A Fresh Face


Sofia Meritano, General Assignment

Not many people in the world are lucky enough to love their work and can describe it as “fun, fulfilling and wonderful,” but, among the few exceptions, we certainly find Mr. Ballard.

Mr. Ballard is a first-year teacher here at LHS, and if it wasn’t enough, this is also his first-ever teaching experience. His subject is physical science, and the journey that gave him his passion for this subject is inspiring. 

Let’s start with his education, which was, as he described it, “all over the place.” 

At a young age, he was homeschooled in Post Falls, and then he went for a while to a prep school at Real Life Church called Genesis Preparatory Academy.

But then, during his high school years, he moved to the Philippines, the birthplace of his mother’s family. While he was there, he was homeschooled again, but this time in a US school distance learning program. 

After four years of a lot of online work, he graduated and decided to come back across the Pacific Ocean and attend Western Governors University, a private university in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

When giving his preference on which place is better to live, Ballard said, “I like both living here and the Phillippines. I would like to spend summer and fall here, and then winter and spring there. It’s warm there. There’s a kind of tropical beach life; blue water, coconuts, mangos, etc. The Philippines is like Hawaii, without all the crowds and the tourists.”

He studied science at college, but his passion originated back when he lived in the Philippines. He said, “I used to spend my days at the beach, at the waterfalls, exploring caves, or hiking in the jungle. I fell in love with nature, and then when I started learning physics, I started understanding the laws and the principles that could explain all the beauty that I saw.”

He wasn’t certain about becoming a teacher during his college years. His dad thought he could be suitable for this profession, but he had not realized this potential himself until he did his student teaching.

Ballard added, “The part I love most is when I get to do demonstrations, experiments, and the kids freak out. Then they start thinking, ‘How is that possible?’ and at that moment, you can get their attention and help them learn the idea.”

“I love the wow factor of science. That’s the most fun part.”

In his opinion, it is also nice to bond with students and be a positive influence in their life. “Spending each day with kids can be hilarious. Conversations are fun, especially with freshmen who have a lot of energy and are crazy sometimes.”

However, despite the humor that Mr. Ballard enjoys implementing into his job, students see him seriously. “An important step when earning others’ respect is to carry yourself professionally, put a hand down when you need to, and don’t be afraid of confrontations.” He added that he doesn’t tell students his age for this reason. 

There are obviously challenges as well in his work, like helping the kids try to learn the contents of his class and get them interested in it. Also, from his point of view, it’s very hard to help them understand that they must engage and grow in high school.

After only a month, Mr. Ballard at LHS already feels at home and a part of the kind staff.

“It’s nice not being the only new teacher. They hired three other teachers, and for two of them, it is their first teaching experience as well. We support each other a lot and always get together, talk, and share ideas.” 

It appears the school also reciprocates Ballard’s passion. Many students already appreciate him, and principal Hoffman describes him as a “young, talented guy with great potential. He builds good relationships with his students. He is smart and has a broad range of knowledge. He has all the works to be a fantastic teacher.”

It seems like Mr. Ballard has found his place in this new chapter of his life, and LHS couldn’t be happier to welcome him and be a part of his path as well.