LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Amy Ballou

Position: Physical Education Teacher
School: Wheelock Elementary School
School District: New Hampshire School Administrative Unit #29
City, State: Keene, NH

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Amy Ballou has pursued her elementary school dream of becoming a physical education teacher and a gymnastics coach. She leads by example on a daily basis, creating an age-appropriate curriculum that challenges each student to do their personal best. Over the years, she has also initiated and participated in a variety of community, school, and district wellness and fitness programs/committees.

Ms. Ballou says it best in her philosophy statement:

      Recognizing the ever-increasing problem of obesity and other health-related conditions resulting from sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary habits led me to pursue a degree in physical education. The need to instill the knowledge, practices, and positive attitude surrounding a healthy lifestyle must begin at a young age. The role of the physical educator is to use a variety of creative techniques to engage each student on an individual level. Daily lessons must incorporate safety, encourage self-respect, and promote responsibility in all aspects of a student’s life. My lessons allow students to excel in movement activities at their own pace within a positive learning environment. By utilizing developmentally appropriate practices, my students leave my classroom with a positive outlook on physical activity, as well as the confidence to pursue physical activity throughout their lives.

     As physical educators, I feel it is essential for all students to succeed, to feel confident in their abilities, and to have the skills to perform a variety of activities. By incorporating modifications and extensions into my daily lessons, I expect all my students to leave my class with a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. I believe creating a positive and safe learning environment will contribute to positive lifespan changes in my students’ lives. As a result, they will be less likely to be affected by preventable conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and hypertension. I believe with an adequate combination of motivation, enthusiasm, and variety in my instructional format, I will contribute to my students’ desire to live healthier, more fulfilled lives.

    To achieve these outcomes, I have an educational focus in my class which challenges my student to a higher order of critical thinking. I want them to understand how the activity will improve their physical fitness, why we are doing it, and when and where to utilize specific techniques and strategies outside the classroom. I also want my students to learn skills and attain a level of mastery. I expect them to demonstrate respect for themselves and for each other to ensure the entire class is successful. To internalize the significance of physical education into their lives, students need to transform the purpose of an activity into personal desire and bridge their knowledge and skill level into a willingness to participate and enjoy physical activities, and thereby create the desire to pursue ongoing healthy and physically active lifestyles.

    I believe assessing my students’ progress is essential for this process to be successful. It also provides an essential means for assessing my effectiveness as a teacher. This can best be accomplished by utilizing many forms of testing in the grading process. To properly evaluate all types of learning styles, a variety of tools can be used, including demonstrations, portfolios, journal writing, written/oral testing, peer and self-assessments and rubrics. A creative and flexible instructor is a crucial component of daily lessons in schools. This versatility is fundamental to providing student-centered learning, stimulating lessons, and fair, effective testing practices.

    The ever-increasing problem of obesity and other conditions related to sedentary lifestyles mandates the necessity for increased physical activity. As a physical educator, I believe we need to be the professionals promoting physical activity in our schools and communities and teach by example. I believe that a teacher needs to be a good role model for his/her students. I live a drug-free lifestyle and incorporate fitness and nutrition into my everyday practices. I have been involved in sports since I was young and know the benefits of physical activity, self-discipline, and time management. I developed confidence and leadership skills that helped me with coaching and teaching children at various levels. I have a learning disability which has enhanced my appreciation for different learning styles and the need for a variety of methods to assess individual students. As a nation, we can only benefit from positive behavior changes and I hope to see the obesity epidemic reversed in my lifetime.

“Amy Ballou has been our assistant coach for gymnastics at Keene High School for several years," said Mike Atkins, director of athletics at Keene High School. "She took over as the head coach two years ago and has done a terrific job with bringing new KHS students into the sport. She is supportive, outgoing, approachable, and a positive role model to all her students/athletes."

"Amy communicates very well with all constituencies including parents, fellow coaches, teachers of her student-athletes, the administration and the community," Atkins continued. "She is simply fun to be around because of her sunny demeanor. Her involvement in the lives of her student-athletes has a positive effect on them as young adults.”

Ms. Ballou identified an issue of equipment and space at the high school. She researched alternatives and established an affordable agreement to hold all gymnastic practices and meets at the local YMCA. Previously, the team had to set-up and take down all equipment every day. She is always working for the best for the team while holding safety as a high priority. In addition, she worked to establish a booster club group for the gymnastics team.

“Amy Ballou has impressed me as an industrious individual who puts forth great effort in whatever she undertakes," said Patricia Yoerger, Wheelock Elementary School principal. "She is dedicated to tasks and expends the time and energy necessary to complete projects. She develops an effective network of resources and colleagues with whom she collaborates well."

"Amy is a self-starter and intuitively knows what needs to be done and does it," Yoerger continued. "She challenged her classes to bring in box tops for extra money to purchase PE supplies to benefit the students. When our school participated in the American Heart Association Jump Rope for Heart/Hoops for Heart fundraiser, 96 students raised over $2700, far surpassing the goal of $1000. Her dedication to provide support and encouragement to student physical activity is admirable. Amy regularly gives 110%."

As an instructor, Ms. Ballou clearly understands student physical and motor skill development. She uses music to support students and encourage cardiovascular warm-ups at the beginning of all lessons. She uses games and centers to teach and practice skills. Ms. Ballou is resourceful, and ensures that she has the most appropriate equipment to support student learning.

She is also an effective communicator as a member of the school staff. She created a website where she shares pictures and videos of students engaged in physical activity. Ms. Ballou created outreach by participating in Safe Routes to School Walk and Bike to School days. In addition, she coordinated physical education activities for students at recess such as dancing to music and an additional gymnastics practice session. She is also the teacher/advisor for the Safety Patrol Program at her school.

To be effective, a teacher has to interact with every student. Front-loading and setting a student up for success is a driving force for active participation. Encouraging students to take positive risks enables them to apply those skills to other situations in their lives. Allowing them to make mistakes in a safe environment helps them to develop a sense of good judgment that they can benefit from throughout their lives.

Throughout her career, Ms. Ballou has expanded her school’s physical education curriculum and provided diversified PE activities. These include interactive exercise video games (e.g. DDR), an outdoor ice skating rink, a snowshoe unit, vertical climbing apparatus activities, a coed dance team, an adaptive PE class for students with weight issues, and updated gymnastics equipment.

She strives to instill habits for a healthy lifestyle that her students can share with their families and carry into their adult life. Parents have commented that they have been motivated by their children to initiate family activities that incorporate physical fitness and improved dietary habits. Her instruction is literally crossing generations through the education of her students. If Ms. Ballou is chosen for an award, she will utilize the funds to benefit the school, her students, and the community to the best of her ability.



Comments (39)


Jen Posted over a year ago

Amy Ballou's energy and enthusiasm has made a positive impact on our school community. She is a skilled PE teacher, who truly cares about her students. Amy has created school wide activities and friendly competitions that foster wellness and healthy habits. We are truly fortunate to have her at Wheelock School!

Andrea Guild Posted over a year ago

Congratulations to a very inspiring individual. Good luck.

Nora gould Posted over a year ago

Congratulations! Very deserving of the award. Good luck!

Sarah Guthrie Posted over a year ago

Amy is a fantastic PE teacher and is always looking for new ways to encourage students to move and enjoy many different kinds of physical activity. She is truly amazing.

Tina Posted over a year ago

Amy Ballou is a caring, energetic, enthusiastic PE educator. She is a coach and encourages each student to do his or her best. Amy puts time and energy into additional activities and events. She has friendly school wide competitions between classes to collect box tops to earn money for our school. She educates students and gets them involved and excited about raising money for organizations such as Hoops for Hearts. Students are so fortunate to have such a positive role model for physical education:)

Kevin Sullivan Posted over a year ago

Great Job!

Ann MacKenzie Posted over a year ago

Amy makes class fun! Her students are learning that work can be fun even if it is hard. She pushes them to push their limits so they are excelling and learning they can do more! As a new staff member to Wheelock, she has jumped right in to support students and staff, giving beyond 100%. As I get to know Amy more, I clearly see she lives the same as she teaches, holding the bar high for herself in all that she does.

Kelly C Posted over a year ago

Amy encourages all her students to reach their goals through taking risks and learning through positive reinforcement

Nicole Posted over a year ago

Congrats! This does not surprise me at all. You have a super positive attitude & it’s obvious you love & feel passionate about making a difference with children!

Chris Ballou Posted over a year ago

It would be an understatement to say that Amy is one of the hardest working people I know. If you are not putting in your 150%, then you are not giving it your all. Amy puts in 150% into everything she does and it reflects in all aspects of life, especially her teaching. Her students, fellow teachers, gymnasts, and all other individuals who work with her daily routinely seek out her guidance and advice because she is that good at what she does.

Heidi Posted over a year ago

No matter which school Amy has taught at she shows strong leadership skills. She is always actively involved in the school and the community. Amy gives more than 100% in everything she does. She is most deserving of this award.

Kathleen Whitham Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Amy! A well deserved honor for a hard working teacher!

Bryan G. Posted over a year ago

I've seen her passion and dedication first hand and I will tell you that there is no doubt that Ms. Ballou absolutely deserves this award. The measure of a person is not simply how great their gifts are, but the impact they leave on others. I've seen it first hand, that she has provided guidance, confidence, and direction to every child she has worked with. Her impact continues from her focus on physical and mental health, to well into the classroom and beyond. Not only is she doing great work, but she is the definition of a "Life Changer". In my opinion she embodies the full spirit of this award.

James Butterfield Posted over a year ago

Since I had Ms. Ballou as a student at Monadnock Regional High School I new she would be successful. She has always had a genuine care and concern for others. Her sense of empathy always led her to help others and make their challenges her challenges. She has continued this approach to life as a teacher. Ms. Ballou works to fulfill this same sense of mission professionally as she works to help ensure that today's youth have healthy minds and healthy bodies so they are ready to fulfill their innate potential. Ms. Ballou is bringing her own positive experience and love for health and physical education to her students. I was inspired to watch Ms. Ballou compete as a student athlete and now I am inspired and proud to see her share that same passion with students and fulfill her life-long mission to serve others. Ms. Ballou is the kind of person and educator that this prestigious award is meant to honor. If selected there is no doubt that she will live up to its ideals.

Justin Egounis Posted over a year ago

This is AWESOME to say the least!!! I have known Amy, since we were in preschool (Jack and Jill Nursery School) If anyone deserves this, it's Amy! She's an amazing mother, teacher and most of all friend that I have ever known. I am very proud of you and all you have and continue to accomplish! Goooooo Ammmyyyyyy!!!! ??

John Feeney Posted over a year ago

I have know Amy for about 18 yrs. She was on my college gymnastics team and in my class's here at Brockport college. She was a very dedicated and hardworking individual who accomplished a lot in her time here at Brockport. It does not surprise me that she has done such an amazing job at her school. She was a great team leader while on the team and came in with an attitude of "Make progress not excuses" Congrats.

Carley Pedruczny Posted over a year ago

I think Amy would be a great recipient for this award. Her accomplishment bring a tremendous amount of positivity to the community truly changing lives for the better.

Stephen Kantor Posted over a year ago

Amy has been a great role model and coach to my daughter! I cannot think of a more deserving individual to receive this award!

Nathaniel Gould Posted over a year ago

Amy is a wonderful and positive person and works very well with kids. Definitely a well deserved award for her.

Joan Van Saun Posted over a year ago

Amy s excellence as a teacher and exceptional committment to her students make her a truly deserving recipient of this award.

Donna Baldwin Posted over a year ago

Developing healthy habits now will last a lifetime. Physical education should be a priority. My opinion--- Mrs. Ballou is a great candidate for the LifeChanger of the Year award.

SteveSanders Posted over a year ago

I think Amy would be an excellent recipient of the life changer of the year award. Her accomplishments are exactly what parents and community members are looking for with our teachers. Excellent job by her

Patty Yoerger Posted over a year ago

Amy is a talented educator, a strong builder of community, and an energizer to spark making positive changes happen. Amy is dedicated to children in all that she does. She works to instill the love of learning and communicate the benefits of exercise, wellness, and physical well being. She dedicates her self to creative fundraising in order to provide additional equipment and services for children. She is an active member of our school PTA. Amy is like the energizer bunny- she goes and goes and goes- and brings great skills and opportunities for children.

Amy koons Posted over a year ago

Amy was wonderful with my daughter and a bully situation. She was very quick to spot it and very quick to resolve it and my daughter was so greatful for the help. They. Talked their problems out and even cried and became great friends again! So blessed she was their and so helpful!

Jana Barry Posted over a year ago

Amy works really hard to set up a program that works for each individual student. I work with several parents of students of Amy and they and their children love her and love having her for a teacher. I see her use the same principals raising her young son as she uses in teaching her students. The results are amazing.

David L. Bickford Posted over a year ago

From all I read about Ms. Ballou, she is just the type of educator we need in our school systems. Reading her philosophy and the comments of others who know her show that she is truly a teacher that values the whole child and is truly concerned with the development of healthy values and habits that can serve her students far beyond their years in her classes. This remarkable young woman is far more than a gym teacher. I am extremely impressed by what I have learned about her and her work. I can only hope that my grandchildren have a physical education instructor as inspiring and knowledgeable as Ms. Ballou.

Jaime Pearsall Posted over a year ago

Amy is a strong and confident person that always cheers on others to be the best that they can be whether it be in a role as a teacher, gymnastics coach, or a friend. Her positivity and energy are contagious. I have heard stories from other parents talking about how excited their children are to have Mrs. Ballou as their teacher. Stories of how she makes recess fun by going out to play with them and interacts with them beyond the expected roles of a physical education teacher. Her students, no doubt, are lucky to have her as their teacher and role model.

Lisa Seelen Posted over a year ago

I have appreciated Amy's commitment to fitness through fun interactions since she came to Wheelock in the fall of this year. From the very first class with my kindergarten students she has encouraged the children to move, learn appropriate fitness techniques, and play stimulating games. I come early to pick up the students just so I can watch them learning a new skill, playing a game that entertains and challenges them, or simply having a great time! To me, P.E. should be their favorite "special". When I see the joyful looks on their faces I know that for most of them it definitely is a favorite time of the week for them. Amy is indeed a special P.E. teacher. We are lucky to have her.

Kristin Froling Posted over a year ago

Amy is my colleague at Wheelock School. She has only been at our school for 1/2 a year, but her dedication, commitment and passion for teaching are easily apparent!

Debbie Bright Posted over a year ago

Yay Amy!!!

Al and Pam Bielunis Posted over a year ago

In spite of her learning disability, she learned at an early age that hard work pays off. From her accomplishments in college as a scholar-athlete including attaining All-American status in Academics and Gymnastics, to graduating Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, to her professional career as a physical educator and coach including being selected for the 2008 NH No Child Left Behind American Star of Teaching Award, to her personal life as a daughter, wife and mother, to the role model lifestyle she exhibits to her students, athletes, and the community everyday yielding a positive impact on those around her. We are so proud to support our daughter, Amy Ballou, as a candidate for the LifeChanger of the Year Award.

Kerry Hutton Posted over a year ago

Amy is an awesome PE teacher! As a fellow PE teacher I aspire to be as good an educator as she is!

Jennifer Gauthier Posted over a year ago

Amy is a truly exceptional woman.

Alan Gould Posted over a year ago

Well deserved recognition for a focused young lady.

Marty Summers Posted over a year ago

Amy is a very dedicated teacher and a hard worker. It’s a pleasure to know her.

Kevin Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Amy!

Maxine Houle Posted over a year ago

When Amy was a teenager at Monadnock Regional High School, she was inspiring others to be the best that they could be. She had a strong determination to succeed in her life and share her journey with other students and staff. Amy has stayed in touch with my husband (who was a teacher) and me (Principal's Administrative Assistant) for many years and we've enjoyed traveled with her through life's special moments. If anyone is deserving of this nomination, it's Amy Ballou.

Denise Banister Posted over a year ago

Great philosophy. Really apparent that Amy cares about her students. This is clearly not just her job - it is her life's mission.

Alana Morin Posted over a year ago

It is no surprise that Amy would receive such an achievement! She is a leader, and deserves every positive accolade offered. Thank you Amy for being a positive role model for our youth.