Ballard Elementary earns coveted education award

Published 2:23 am Tuesday, September 21, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Ballard Elementary School recently traveled to Lansing to accept the Muth Excellence in Leadership Award presented by the Middle Cities Education Association.
Ballard Principal Amy DeVos presented the award to the Niles Community Schools Board of Education at the board's meeting Monday night.
DeVos spoke about initiatives taken at Ballard that she thought led to the school's consideration for the award.
DeVos said that the uninterrupted two hour blocks for language arts education students receive at Ballard played a significant role in the high MEAP scores achieved by students at Ballard.
She also credited the 90 minute blocks for math education as a factor in the resulting high MEAP math scores at Ballard.
Increased specialized attention is another initiative DeVos attributed to the success at Ballard.
Students who are struggling receive instruction from teachers in a normal classroom setting, and instruction from Ellen Law, the school reading specialist, or one of the school paraprofessionals.
The staff at Ballard also set up a reading club for students in first, second, third and fourth grades, where the students spend 15 minutes of their 45 minute library class in guided reading with a paraprofessional.
Middle Cities Education Association, which presents the Muth Excellence in Leadership Award, is a collection of urban school districts in the state of Michigan which are dedicated to improving educational opportunities for urban students.
Since the awards inception in 1989, Ballard is the only school to win the award twice; once in 1997, and again this year.
The board also accepted a $17,000 gift from the Hunter Foundation to support the Niles Community Schools involvement in the HealthWorks Kids Museum in South Bend, Ind.
In addition to regular field trips to the museum, Niles schools also completes its reproductive health education for fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students at HealthWorks.
The board also recognized the donation of 36 backpacks, filled with school supplies from the First Missionary Church to Niles elementary schools, and the donation of $500 to Niles High School from the Wal-Mart Corporation.
The backpacks were distributed to needy children by the principals of the elementary schools.
Niles Community Schools Superintendent Doug Law thanked representatives from the two groups who made the donations personally.