A longtime educator at The Brook Hill School was recently the recipient of an award recognizing his contributions to education in the northeast Texas area, specifically to the field of fine arts.
Glenn Ballard, who has taught at Brook Hill for the past 20 years, currently serving as a speech, drama, and theater arts instructor, was one of six teachers presented with awards at the Young Audiences of Northeast Texas’ 2018 Arts in Education Awards Banquet, held Tuesday, April 3, at Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler.
“When you get to be my age and have been teaching for as long as I have, you don’t really feel excited; rather, you feel gratified,” said Ballard. “I am humbly thankful for this recognition. I believe I speak for many Fine Arts teachers in saying that we don’t do what we do for the accolades; when our kids are successful, that’s where our success comes from. I’m thankful to Young Audiences of Northeast Texas for the recognition, but for also what they do throughout the year for arts in education at both public and private schools.”
At the awards banquet, Ballard was awarded the Arts Teaching Excellence Award: Secondary award, honoring teachers who in addition to an exemplary career teaching students, have given back to their own art form, according to Young Audiences of Northeast Texas.
In his area of focus, Ballard teaches the school’s young generation of thespians, while also using his abilities to direct several productions on the calendar each year.
“Inside the classroom, I teach drama classes, and I also direct our stage performances,” said Ballard. “Our schedule for the year usually consists of at least four main productions: a fall dinner theater, a One Act Play, a middle school production, and our big Spring musical. Other than that, we also do a number of productions that are an extension of the classroom.”
Throughout his tenure at Brook Hill, Ballard has now directed a total of 18 dinner theater productions, and is now into his 18th Spring musical event, as he is serving as director of the school’s 2018 Spring Musical, The Sound of Music.
“I’ve been blessed to have great students, but I’ve also been blessed to be able to put kids where I believe they need to be,” said Ballard. “Like a football coach recognizes that an athlete will be a linebacker of a wide receiver, you have to be able to see the child’s gifts and find the literature that fits the students. I spend a lot of time thinking and praying over this area. We actually anticipate and sometimes make these decisions ahead of time; as we see the kids growing within the program, I’m already talking about the literature I can use when they become of age and continue to refine and develop their skill set. The kids know the department has a great reputation to live up to, and they work hard to make the productions a great experience for our audiences.”
Ballard said many students look forward to attending extracurricular activities, such as Fine Arts programs, at schools around the country, allowing the teachers to have an impactful role in their education.
“I have yet to meet a student who rolls out of bed and is excited to go to school because of a physics or world history class,” said Ballard. “At least for a lot of students, it’s an extracurricular activity that draws them, whether it’s athletics, theater, band, among others. I’m very proud and thankful that what I get to do every day is one reason many students come to school. Our job is to foster the love the students have for that activity and help them to be successful. Finding the right combination is hard, but at Brook Hill, we have teachers with many years of experience and we’re able to do what our school’s mission statement says – ‘Affirm the gifts and challenge the potential.’”
In addition to Ballard’s role as a teacher in the classroom, he also wears the hat of Fine Arts Director at Brook Hill, where he oversees all of the school’s Fine Arts programs, including choral music, theater, visual arts, dance performance, and instrumental music, which has recently expanded to include guitar classes and a jazz band.
Ballard also works alongside the Brook Hill Supporters Of Fine Arts (SOFA) organization in an effort to raise funds for the school’s Fine Arts performances, which allows the program to afford a number of additives to their productions, such as costuming and set design.
With two decades of teaching at Brook Hill, Ballard said the growth of the school’s Fine Arts department is directly credited to God allowing the right teachers to find their way to Brook Hill.
“Very often in our setting, we use the analogy of our school being like an orchestra – God brings us the right person we need to play the right instrument at the right time,” said Ballard. “We certainly give Him the honor and credit for the success of the school. Mrs. Eden and I have been colleagues for 19 full-length musicals. We had Jamie Reason as our orchestra teacher for many years, and when she retired, God allowed Dr. Gary Gardner to take over that department. Also, He allowed Suzanne Shelton, who had been writing AP art curriculum for the big schools in Dallas, to come here. Additionally, God brought Savannah Holik, a former principle dancer with the New York City ballet, to teach at our school. It’s not by accident that this level of talent has found Brook Hill and Bullard, Texas.”
Ballard is a Class of 1976 graduate from Aldine High School. After high school, he attended the University of Texas at Tyler, earning a Bachelor degree in science and education, as well as a Master of Arts degree in speech communication and theater.
According to the Young Audiences of Northeast Texas website, the organization’s Arts Teaching Excellence Awards are presented to elementary, middle, and secondary arts teachers who have each gone above and beyond in their field.
Other award recipients for 2018 Young Audiences of Northeast Texas awards included Johnny Ray of All Saints Episcopal School (Lifetime Achievement Award), Denny Whitley of Whitehouse ISD (Lifetime Achievement Award), Alison Adkins of Mineola Elementary School (Rising Star Award), Cynthia Dempsey of Clarkston Elementary School in Tyler ISD (Arts Teaching Excellence Award: Elementary), and Darren Richardson of Gladewater ISD’s Weldon Elementary School (Distinguished Service to the Profession Award).
The finalists were selected from nominations made to Young Audiences of Northeast Texas. Individual arts educators from public or private schools within the Region 7 ESC geographic area were eligible to be nominated. Finalists were selected by a panel of local arts professionals and community members.
Since 1997, Young Audiences of Northeast Texas has supported the arts in education and partnered with educators to bring unique arts experiences to students, teachers and schools. The Arts in Education Awards event honors those art educators, whom the organization considers ‘heroes of the arts in our schools’.
Young Audiences presents awards for Arts Teaching Excellence in six categories: Elementary, Middle, High School, Rising Star, Distinguished Service to the Profession, and Lifetime Achievement.
Awards include grants and free arts experiences for the winners’ schools, presented by a Young Audiences teaching artist. The selection committee includes members of local businesses, local educators, patrons of the arts, and Young Audiences Board members.
Young Audiences of Northeast Texas is a proud affiliate of Young Audiences Inc., the nation’s largest arts in education learning network, with 30 local affiliates nationwide, including five in the state of Texas. The organization is dedicated to bringing quality arts-in-education experiences into northeast Texas schools.
For more information about Young Audiences of Northeast Texas, visit www.yanetexas.org.