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Sharon Ball of Patterson High School wins the September Teachers Are Heroes award

Posted: 12:11 PM, Sep 30, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-30 17:55:10-04
Engineering teacher emphasizes hands on learning

In Sharon Ball's engineering class, students spend less time sitting at desks and more time standing around a work bench.

"The concept has to be covered but then it's time for you to perform," Ball said.  "We act more as facilitators than teachers."

Ball has her students do a variety of projects, from propelling a plastic bottle across the table using a small motor, to building robots that can pick up objects.  Her goal is to make math and science engaging and fun.

"They get a chance to say 'Oh, I can do that, I'm good at that.'"

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She has a lot of bragging rights when it comes to her students at Patterson High School.  Over the years, they've won robotic competitions and two of her graduates got a patent on a soldering tool they made in her classroom.

"She inspires students, she engages them with great hands-on activities, and she inspires them to go on into STEM fields," said Nick Yates, one of Ball's engineering colleagues at Patterson.

"Mrs. Ball is innovative, creative, supportive and she's challenging to the students," said Vance Benton, principal at Patterson.

Ball also spends a lot of time after school, working with kids on coding and robots and bringing in professionals from the industry to mentor the students.

"I get very inspired when they get engaged so I don't mind spending the time after school," said Ball.

"If I need anything in the classroom, outside the classroom, she will always help me," senior Memi Desta said.

Ball made the switch from an engineer at Lockheed Martin to a teacher 22 years ago.  Her husband thought she would last just three months.

"Here we are, 22 years later.  It's been pretty good," she said with a smile.

To nominate your favorite teacher for the ABC2-MECU Teachers Are Heroes award, click here .

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