Credit: Charles County Public Schools / Charles County Public Schools

James Ball, a longtime art teacher, mentor and coach with Charles County Public Schools (CCPS), is one of seven finalists in the 2020 Maryland Teacher of the Year award program. A veteran teacher with 26 years of teaching experience with CCPS, Ball is Charles County’s first state award finalist in more than a decade.

The designation of Charles County Public Schools 2020 Teacher of the Year, and now as a state finalist, is fitting for Ball who grew up in the community in which he teaches. It was at La Plata High School that Ball met Joseph Troy, a retired CCPS art teacher, as a student in Troy’s class. Troy fueled Ball’s passion for art and instilled in him a love for creativity. Ball has been teaching art for 26 years and has called North Point High School home since 2005. Ball also taught art for several years at Westlake High School. 

Ball gives back to Charles County not only as a teacher and coach but also as a mentor to young adults and students. Ball realized his passion for working with children soon after he graduated high school. He took a position teaching at a Parks and Recreation summer camp. “After my first day teaching the kids, I knew this is what I wanted to do as a career,” he said.

Aside from his love for art, Ball is a passionate advocate for youth athletic programs. He is known in the Charles County community as Coach Ball and often oversees a fall, winter, and spring sport. His coaching resume includes nearly 29 years of coaching experience in basketball, cross-country track, and lacrosse.

Anyone who has met Ball has seen the energy, excitement, and passion he demonstrates in working with children. As a coach and mentor, he strives to ensure students learn and understand what it means to demonstrate pride, sportsmanship, personal responsibility, and integrity. “His actions as a coach lead to one objective – the building up of young men and women,” Andy Shattuck, athletic director at North Point, said.

Parents credit Ball with helping their children achieve academic and personal success. “Our son’s freshmen and sophomore years of high school were a real struggle. Our family knows firsthand how Ball’s mentorship through his study hall program has helped to mold and shape our son into the man he is today. Ball knows the right balance between discipline, guidance, and motivation,” wrote the parent of a North Point graduate in a nomination letter.

State finalists were chosen by a panel of judges from key educational organizations that represent principals, teachers, school boards, parents, and institutions of higher education. The seven finalists were chosen based on a rigorous set of state and national criteria including: teaching philosophy and results, community involvement, knowledge of general education issues, and desire for professional and instructional improvement.

Ball’s next step in the awards program is to complete his finalist interview this weekend. “I look forward to it. I think I have a great shot,” Ball said.

The 2020-2021 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced on Maryland Public Television (MPT) on Oct. 8 in a 30-minute special program airing at 8 p.m. on MPT2 and in a live stream on MPT’s YouTube channel, MarylandPublicTV.

The winner will receive a cash award, technology equipment, national travel opportunities, and a new car donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.

The selected Maryland Teacher of the Year will go on to compete for the National Teacher of the Year Award and spend the coming year as an educational speaker and advisor.

Ball has a bachelor’s degree in studio art and a master’s degree in education, both from West Virginia Wesleyan College.

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