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.”


Operation Paper Drive 2014

The 2014 Mix 104.1 Family Expo will be held on Aug. 9 at the Cleveland Family YMCA. "The purpose of the event is to create a stronger, more connected community," officials stated. "Because education is and has always been the foundational cornerstone of the community and its development, Mix 104.1 has partnered with Cleveland Insurance to deepen the impact the event has on the ... (click for more)

Road To Nightfall Winners Function Play Friday At Miller Plaza

The 2014 Nightfall free concert series continues its schedule of summer musical programming Friday at Miller Plaza with a headline show by Function at 8 p.m. Opening at 7 p.m. will be Roger Alan Wade with Sparkle Motion. Nightfall is hosted each Friday at Miller Plaza through Aug. 29.  Function were the winners of this year’s Road to Nightfall competition, which took place ... (click for more)

DA Looking Into Issue Of County Commission Candidate's Campaign Sending Filled-Out Request For Absentee Ballot To Elderly Voters

The District Attorney's Office has been provided with documents that a County Commission candidate's campaign sent filled-out requests for absentee ballots to elderly voters. Kerry Steelman, election administrator, said there have been four instances in which such requests came from the Elect John Brooks campaign. He said state law says in Section 2-6-202:  (3) A person ... (click for more)

Graham Says County School-City Lawsuit Settlement "Stinks," But County Commission Approves It

The County Commission on Wednesday approved a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Hamilton County Schools against the city of Chattanooga, though several commissioners said they were not happy with the deal and Commissioner Joe Graham said it "stinks." Commissioner Graham was the lone no vote. He was joined by Commissioner Tim Boyd in a failed effort to defer it a week. ... (click for more)

The Truth From Weston’s Sister - And Response (2)

I try not to read the negative articles and opinions about my older brother. Growing up around politics, I learned a long time ago that thick skin is not only necessary, it’s paramount. But this time, the lies and the rumors and the inaccurate information has gone too far. It’s too ridiculous for me to ignore. So let’s clear a few things up: Weston and I do not “come ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Oscar Brock’s True Passion

I don’t pay much attention to the Hamilton County School Board. Once the moon and the stars aligned behind Superintendent Rick Smith, you hear very little, if anything, from the nine-member council that oversees an annual budget of almost $400 million and employs 4,480 people. So chew this for a minute: approximately 2,000 of those people are not teachers. Yes, there are 78 principals ... (click for more)