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Ballard selected as 2022 South Dakota Teacher of the Year

Stephanie Ballard of George S. Mickelson Middle School in Brookings was named the 2021 South...
Stephanie Ballard of George S. Mickelson Middle School in Brookings was named the 2021 South Dakota Teacher of the Year.(SD Department of Education)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 9:42 PM CDT
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FORT PIERRE, S.D. - Stephanie Ballard, a special education teacher at George S. Mickelson Middle School in Brookings, has been named the 2022 South Dakota Teacher of the Year.

Secretary of Education Tiffany Sanderson made the announcement Tuesday evening at a banquet at the Drifters Event Center in Fort Pierre.

“The Teacher of the Year recognition is much more than an award,” said Secretary of Education Tiffany Sanderson. “Over the coming year, Stephanie will become South Dakota’s ‘teacher ambassador,’ advocating for the profession and for students. At the national level, she will network with colleagues, sharing her expertise and bringing back valuable insights to South Dakota.”

Ballard has taught in the Brookings School District since 2014, first at Camelot Intermediate School before moving to George S. Mickelson Middle School in 2016. She has served on a variety of school and district committees and is active with her local education association. She enjoys professional development and leadership opportunities and mentors new special education teachers in the district.

Ballard says that one of her biggest inspirations was her mother, who was also her first teacher.

“I was actually homeschooled from kindergarten to sixth grade, my mom homeschooled me and my three siblings,” Ballard said. “That is something that I have taken pretty seriously now as a special education teacher. I just know that students can be way more successful if there is a close relationship between home and school.”

As recipient of the honor, Ballard receives prizes including a $5,000 grant from the South Dakota Department of Education and a $1,000 honorarium from the South Dakota Board of Regents to present a series of professional development seminars to aspiring teachers.

Ballard will also represent South Dakota as a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year award. The 2022 National Teacher of the Year will be announced during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in the spring.