Special To The News

An East Central University graduate has received a prestigious Medal for Excellence award from the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence as an outstanding educator in Oklahoma’s public schools.

Dr. Betsy Ballard, winner of the Medal for Excellence in Secondary Teaching, earned a bachelor’s degree in speech, theatre and English from ECU in 1973.

Ballard was one of five state educators receiving $5,000 cash prizes and glass “Roots and Wings” sculptures designed by the late Oklahoma artist Ron Roberts. Medals are awarded annually to an outstanding teacher at the elementary, secondary, community college/regional university and research university levels. The foundation also presents a Medal for Excellence to an exceptional administrator from the elementary or secondary level.

The awards were presented in May at the foundation’s 26th annual Academic Awards Banquet in Tulsa. With support from scholarship sponsors, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence also presented merit-based Academic All-State Scholarships of $1,000 each and medallions to 100 Academic All-State Scholars.

Ballard, who also holds master’s and doctoral degrees in English from the University of Oklahoma, retired this spring after 36 years at Norman High School where she taught English, debate and competitive acting.

One of her colleagues said Ballard set high expectations and inspired her students to reach them. She incorporated student-led learning projects into her curricula, such as one-act plays written by juniors in an advanced English class which were sometimes directed and produced onstage by fellow students, or in-class mini-tournaments set up by debate students as a means of developing their best arguments and speaking styles.

She is a National Board Certified teacher who has won numerous national honors, including the National Forensic League’s Five Diamond Coach Award.

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