After he helped save a medically-distressed student last month, Tuscaloosa's Ryan Ballard was named a Teacher of the Year at the 11th annual Apple Awards Monday afternoon.

The annual event, hosted by the Tuscaloosa City Schools, honors teachers throughout the district in three categories with the Teacher of the Year Award, TCS Support Employee of the Year Award and a new category, the Interdisciplinary Innovation Award.

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During the awards, 64 teachers were nominated to represent their respective schools and eight were awarded at the district level.

Ballard, along with Amber Whitcomb from Woodland Forrest Elementary will represent the district at the Alabama Teacher of the Year competition, which is slated for Spring 2023.

Ballard, a Northridge Middle School teacher who doubles as a bus driver, was recognized in November for his role in saving a student who had a medical emergency during her ride home in early November.

Ballard said the recognition he received as the secondary category winner for the award is "awesome."

"God is awesome," Ballard said. "It's recognition that God has put me in a place where He wants me to be and being in His will is an awesome place to be. Impacting students in any way that I can is an awesome experience and it's been so rewarding. It's more than any award. It's the idea that I'm doing the right thing and I'm doing what I'm called for."

Dr. Mike Daria, superintendent for TCS said the awards ceremony is a consistent way to highlight and honor teachers and other staff in the school district.

"Our schools system is so fortunate to have the absolute best educators around," Daria said. "We've got these amazing teachers in our classrooms. We've got incredible folks serving in our school system on buses and in the front office and today is a celebration of them. They represent the amazing folks we got in our schools all day and everyday and their work is simply terrific."

Daria commended Ballard for his efforts in education and on his bus route.

"The example of Mr. Ballard speaks to the core of who he is and who his colleagues are," Daria said. "We got amazing teachers and Mr. Ballard is certainly a shining example. We've got amazing teachers who care so much about our students and they're relentless in making sure all of our students are successful and Mr. Ballard certainly is an example of that."

Ballard, a math teacher who has been in education for over 20 years, said he is excited to advance to the state-wide competition.

"After 22 years, I think it's validation for me and I hope I can carry the name for Tuscaloosa City Schools in a manner that they would want me that's worthy and I hope that I'm a good representative for them," Ballard said.

The other 2022 Apple Award District Winners include:

TCS Support Employee of the Year

  • Nakesha L. Coleman-Wesley- Eastwood Middle School
  • Nichole Redding- Woodland Forrest Elementary School
  • Greg Rogers- Transportation
  • Kim Hamner- Central Support Team

Interdisciplinary Innovation Award

  • Amanda Anderson- Eastwood Middle School
  • Paige Holtz- Skyland Elementary School

Alabama Teacher of the Year

  • Amber Whitcomb- Woodland Forrest Elementary School

Outstanding Community Spirit Award

  • Shelton State Community College
  • The University of Alabama College of Education
  • Nick's Kids Foundation

Stay connected with the Tuscaloosa Thread for future updates on education highlights happening throughout the Druid City and surround areas.

Rising Star Character Students of the Month

During the 2022-2023 school year, Tuscaloosa City Schools, along with Townsquare Media Tuscaloosa and Legal Services of Alabama, will highlight Rising Star Character Students of the Month from each school in the district, highlighting two to three students each month.

Here's a recap of the previously recognized students!

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