Angela Ballard Joins WTCI-PBS AS Chief Learning Officer

Friday, November 01, 2013

Despite growing use of tablets, 82 percent of all children ages 2-8 watch PBS television, according to a Common Sense Media research study released Thursday.

That’s good news for parents, since children who watched PBS Kids program “Super Why!” scored 46 percent higher on standardized tests than those who didn’t, said officials.

Children who played the “Martha Speaks” PBS Kids app for two weeks showed a 31 percent gain in vocabulary tested.

PBS serves 99 percent of TV households, often offering the only educational programming for those children. The network offers six literacy series and seven that focus on science and math.

Chattanooga’s PBS station, WTCI, serves the Tennessee Valley through on-air programming, outreach in schools and in the community, and professional development for teachers in Hamilton County’s public schools.  

This August, Angela Ballard joined WTCI as chief learning officer and brought 18 years of communications and education experience to the station. She has already spearheaded several initiatives at WTCI that expand the impact the community’s PBS station will have on local education, including a new professional development series for teachers in partnership with Hamilton County Department of Education. 

WTCI’s teacher learning series gives HCDE educators the chance to share their best practices for instruction incorporating technology. Sixteen teachers can participate in person in each training session, and WTCI will video the sessions and upload them to wtciTV.org so that unlimited numbers of teachers in Hamilton County and beyond can train asynchronously online. Two of these professional learning sessions are scheduled each month for the next 15 months.

Ms. Ballard is also working with the Tennessee Department of Education to create customized learning objects that help explain to teachers, parents and students the new K-12 PARCC assessment tests that are being implemented in 18 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. PBS will distribute these learning objects nationally via PBSLearningMedia.org.

Paul Grove, president and CEO of WTCI, said he celebrates Ms. Ballard’s role at the PBS station. “Angela has hit the ground running, and her drive and commitment have energized our ability to impact the students, families and educators in the community we serve,” he said.

Teachers and administrators from 33 different schools and districts attended an educator open house at WTCI last month to see some of these new educational resources firsthand. The event highlighted WTCI’s media lab and its Ready To Learn reading classroom for children in preschool through second grade, as well as the more than 30,000 videos and interactive lessons free to teachers and families through PBSLearningMedia.org. 

“Before I joined WTCI, I didn’t realize how much amazing classroom content was available through PBS,” Ms. Ballard said. “Now, I tell everyone I meet about it, whether they teach preschool students, college students, or anyone in between.”

Ms. Ballard’s 16-year-old stepson is “self-schooled,” and she said PBS’s environmental science content from “NOVA” has been of particular interest to him. “It’s challenging to find quality content for older homeschool students, and PBSLearningMedia.org is a very valuable resource for parents and kids who are looking for interesting, challenging material and more advanced lesson plans.”

Her younger stepson has also taken advantage of her new professional role and spent his fall break participating in WTCI’s code camp. Designed specifically for 13- to 18-year-olds, the camp taught students HTML, PHP, app development and more. Professional programmers from the Tennessee Code Academy led the sessions, and students hosted a “demo day” at the end of the week to show off their new coding skills for parents, grandparents and school administrators. 

The fall code camp was such a success that Ms. Ballard said she has already scheduled a second session for spring break, April 14-18.

A self-proclaimed advocate of lifelong learning, Ms. Ballard is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she has also taught as an adjunct instructor since 2003. 

“I’m very lucky to have found such a great opportunity to combine my professional experience with my love for learning and do it in a way that benefits teachers and students,” she said. “We are so fortunate to have WTCI and PBS in our community, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”


Movie Matinee At Heritage House 'Cyrano de Bergerac'

As part of the Monthly Classic Film Series, Heritage House presents the movie matinee "Cyrano de Bergerac" on Thursday, Nov. 20, at Heritage House Arts and Civic Center, 1428 Jenkins Road. There will be two showings, one at 2 p.m. and one at 7 p.m.  There is free admission and popcorn. In the film, the charismatic swordsman-poet helps another woo the woman he loves in a ... (click for more)

Chattanooga’s Live Music Scene – “Payne” In The Neck Is Gone!

Sunday I wrote about my adventures with a busted up C5 disc rupture on my neck/spine. It was one of the most painful things I ever endured, and I have had kidney stones, so I know all about pain. I haven’t given birth to any kids I am aware of, so I won’t touch that one. (I did live with someone that gave birth to two kids and that had some pain associated with those, however.) ... (click for more)

Two North Shore Sold To Pennsylvania Real Estate Firm For Almost $24 Million

The Two North Shore commercial development on Manufacturers Road in North Chattanooga has been sold to a Pennsylvania real estate firm for  $23,983,363. Steve Arnsdorff, who developed the successful center from the ground up and has continued to manage it, said the deal closed last week. He said the sale for the property at 319 Manufacturers Road is to Stoltz Real Estate ... (click for more)

Lookout Valley Middle High School Closed Friday Due To Water Main Break

County school officials said late Thursday night that LookoutValley Middle High School will be closed Friday due to a water main break. Officials said, "This is an official message from the Hamilton County Department of Education to the parents, faculty, and staff of Lookout Valley Middle High School.  Please accept our apologies for the lateness of this message. "Due ... (click for more)

Thanks For Publishing The Stokes Photo Book

I pre-ordered the Stokes Photo Book and picked it up Wednesday . The covers and content are very high quality and contain photos you will not see anywhere else.  This book of photos is worth much more than $35.  I have seen many historic photos of my hometown Chattanooga, but this collection is amazing. My favorites are National Cemetery, Confederate Cemetery near ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saban: ‘Ratings Don’t Matter’

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week, Alabama football coach Nick Saban got it right on the button when he shrugged, “I don't even care, to be honest with you." "To me, none of it matters, What does it matter?” he laughed at the Tide’s No. 6 ranking. “I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how ... (click for more)