When Greg Ball, formerly of North Carolina, decided it was time to leave the classroom to take an administration position, the first place he looked was West Virginia. He found the principal job he wanted in the heart of Pocahontas County at Marlinton Elementary School.
“I was ready to be a principal,” Ball said. “My wife and I wanted to give my son an opportunity to start and stop in the same school and so he’s a senior now. When I started to look around I targeted West Virginia. What drew me to West Virginia is West Virginia. I can sit at my desk and look at a beautiful mountain and a gorgeous church and a peaceful street.”
Ball was hired in the summer which gave him a chance to come to the area, get comfortable with the school and meet with his new staff.
“Primarily I want to have the teachers – I’ve been telling them this, it’s cliché, but it’s true – I want their pace to increase when they get out of the car in the morning and walking into the building, instead of, at some schools, their pace increases as they walk out of the building to their car in the afternoon,” he said. “What I’m saying is I want it to be fun for everybody. I want it to be fun for the kids. I want it to be fun for the staff because I feel like when you have fun, you do a better job and I feel when the kids have fun, they do a better job.”
One of Ball’s main focuses for the year is to get teachers back to “the art of teaching” and use their personal gifts to teach their students.
“Recently in this profession we’ve gotten into – and I don’t think it’s a good thing – telling teachers how to teach,” he said. “These people are educated professionals. They’ve gone to school to learn what to do. I’m going to try to see if I can cultivate the art of teaching and have people feel free to experiment and not worry so much about the Common Core. What you want is, you want them to want to do [the Common Core] and not have it forced upon them.”
Ball comes from a family of teachers and naturally joined “the family business.” In his career, Ball has worked in elementary, middle and high schools, so he has been a part of the spectrum of primary and secondary education.
“I taught seventh grade and eleventh grade social studies in Pennsylvania and in North Carolina,” he said. “Then I went into administration – four years in elementary, nine in the middle and five years in the high school, so I’ve seen it all. It enabled me to have the perspective of, I can see and forecast how things we do at the elementary level are going to manifest when the kids move down the road to middle school and high school. It gives me a good and unique kind of perspective.”
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org