After 32 years helping track down bad guys, Troy Ballard, '78, hung up his smock as a supervisor with the Indiana State Police (ISP) crime lab in Fort Wayne to tackle a new challenge—teaching.
He joined the ranks of 2011 Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows
at his alma mater, looking to complete the special intensive master's program that is boosting the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers available for Indiana's classrooms.
"The Indiana State Police is a tremendous agency. These are dedicated, highly skilled people, and I owe them a lot. It's been a great career," Ballard says. "But always, somewhere in the back of my mind, was this idea to become a teacher.
|Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (left) congratulates Troy Ballard, '78, and Amy Lee on their selection as 2011 Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows at Ball State during a ceremony in the governor’s statehouse office. Ballard returns to his alma mater to pursue his master’s degree as a fellow, while Lee comes to Ball State after earning her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Kentucky in 2011.|
"I just love science, so school was a lot of fun for me" adds the veteran of thousands of drug identification cases for ISP since his graduation from Ball State with a degree in chemistry
when Jimmy Carter was president and the disco era epic Saturday Night Fever
ruled the movie and music charts.
He credits his undergraduate experience at the university for prompting his interest in the fellowship program. Although Purdue, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and the University of Indianapolis also host groups of fellows, Ballard indicated he wanted to participate only if he could return to campus in Muncie.
"I had really great professors at Ball State—some, like Bruce Storhoff
, that are still with the department—and they provided the inspiration that led to a great opportunity with the state police and the lab," he says. "I just thought if I could have the same kind of positive influence on some future student, that would be so rewarding."Knowledge and Excitement
If enthusiasm is no issue for Ballard as he contemplates a future career in the classroom, he admits to some trepidation about the more immediate prospect of picking up the books again himself.
"I thought of asking on the first day if they'll still let me use a slide rule," jokes the real-life CSI. In fact, he is familiar with all manner of modern analytical equipment, including the mass spectrometer he used recently to ferret out the identity of an "unknown" molecule detected in a curious drug sample. It turned out to be from a newly developed psychotropic drug for treating adolescents.
"The pharmaceutical companies are coming out with this stuff all the time," Ballard says, still pleased at having figured out the puzzle, which resolved around the chemical's specific molecular weight.
"What I have to do now," he adds, "is learn how to convey that knowledge and excitement to students."
The son of a career state trooper, Ballard grew up in east central Indiana and graduated from Portland High School (now part of a consolidated Jay County H.S.). After completing his fellowship, he is committed to spend at least three years as a teacher in a traditionally underserved inner city or rural school district that is considered high-need.About the Fellowship
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
of Princeton, New Jersey, administers the program with the generous support of a $10.1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. and $2.9 million in funding from the state. Indiana was the first state to launch the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships, with the announcement of the first cohort of fellows in 2009, and Ball State was selected as one of the inaugural hosts for the program by virtue of its long established and well-regarded Teachers College.
Michigan and Ohio also have since created Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships and other states now are in discussion to launch their own programs.
More than 1,500 post-graduates nationwide applied for the 54 fellowships awarded in 2011. Recipients also include from Ball State's Class of 2011 Kalalau Cantrell, a music technology
grad from Kapolei, Hawaii, and Megan Hall, a biology
major from Fort Wayne, both of whom will remain on campus to pursue their master's degrees. They are expected to be ready to enter their own classrooms in fall 2012.