Above and Beyond

Ballard and Letzig earn teacher of the year honors


Every year, Lakeland High School allows its staff to vote for two teachers that are outstanding at their job. 

These teacher of the year awards are presented to the two most well-deserved educators that leave the biggest impact on their students out of the five nominated. 

Physical science teacher, Joshua Ballard, received one of the awards. 

Ballard is in his first year at LHS, and his first ever year of teaching, making the reward means even more. Ballard was shocked after hearing the news and is very thankful that he has been noticed for his teaching and influence. 

“It means a lot; it really helps you feel appreciated and recognized for the time and effort you put in,” said Ballard. “Teaching is not the most lucrative job in the world. A significant percentage of our compensation comes in the form of appreciation from others.” 

Ballard feels that the award justifies all the hard work and effort he has put into this past year, and will continue to put in as the school year comes to a close. It proves the extra mile Ballard has gone for his students and the work he put in to set up labs in class meant something.  

Winning the award in his first year of teaching definitely makes the award more special because not every new teacher is capable of this achievement. 

Although Ballard has learned an infinite number of things this year, he has a few that have stuck with and helped him the most. 

“Relax. That’s the big thing I’ve learned,” Ballard said. “Build relationships with your students, understand them, and listen to them. Don’t take yourself or your job too seriously.”  

Ballard’s students have certainly played a large role in his achievement, as there were said to be a number of them that said good things about him. They mention that he is always walking around the classroom helping them and answering questions, making sure everyone understands. 

“He is not only a teacher, he’ll be your friend. He relates to us,” said one of Ballard’s students, Dreyden Smith. 

Ballard is set apart due to his teaching style being fun but effective. He also has the ability to come up with new ideas and think of creative ways to convey his lessons. 

At the end of the day, Ballard’s hope is to at least help his students have a good day or help them to dislike school a little less. 

English teacher, Beth Letzig, was the other teacher that received the annual award.  

Winning teacher of the year means a ton to Letzig because of the love she feels for everyone at LHS, and for her to be recognized in this way she sees that she is valuable to these people as well. 

The award holds even higher importance to Letzig because she has not previously won the award. 

Every year, Letzig learns new things about teaching, and this year was no exception.

“I have learned the value of being flexible and structured at the same time,” said Letzig. “We all have things that we need to get done but life happens and we need to learn to adjust, give a little grace at times and then get back on track and accomplish what we need to in order to grow.”

The reason Letzig has for doing what she does every day is for her students. They keep her on her toes constantly, help her to improve, and make her laugh, which is never a bad thing.

By her students, Letzig is described as a kind teacher who genuinely cares for her students. She provides information in a way that they can really understand making it easier for kids to learn. 

Aly Caywood, a sophomore at Lakeland who has Letzig believes all of these things to be true.  

“On Mondays, we discuss how our weekends were, and that connects us on not only an educational level but a personal level as well,” said Caywood. 

Caywood has been impacted by Letzig and the positive energy she brings to the classroom and school. Having her first period allows Caywood’s day to start off on a positive note, and Letzig overall makes English more fun.

Moving forward, Letzig’s one piece of advice is to keep teaching, keep learning, and love your students, “…you may be the one positive they see that day,” said Letzig.