Principal inspires students every day

Teresa Chan

More stories from Teresa Chan


From managing a forklift in a lumberyard to improving graduation scores at a high school, and being a parent to two sons, the life of Keith Ball, principal of Etowah High School, is not a walk in the park.
“It was the best experience to remind myself to get an education,” Ball, said when asked about his work in the lumberyards driving a forklift.
Growing up in New York, Ball went to school as a free and reduced lunch student.
“If you are hungry, you can’t learn,” Ball said about the free and reduced meals at Etowah. He states that it is important that the program continues at Etowah because he does not want kids to be food insecure, unsure of when their next meal would be.
In Ball’s regular week, he wakes up at four in the morning to work out. He enjoys indoor biking more than outdoor biking due to dangerous drivers.untitled
“Cycling seems to feed my competitive nature and prepare me for the day,” Ball, said.
Ball, named a finalist for the 2017-18 U.S Department of Education of Principal’s Ambassador Fellowship Program, explained that he wants to help other schools achieve their goals.
“My goal was to take things that we have done and help other schools find success,” Ball said.
During the years Ball has been principal, Etowah has had the highest scoring on Advanced Placement Exams and ACT and SAT scores in the county. Ball also introduced a seven period day to Etowah, which was the toughest, he claims, because of how complex the process was, and he did not want to affect the lunch service or student academics.
“Once the schedule unfolded in the 2011, the students, teachers and parents loved it because students could take more electives and had a longer lunch, which provided tutoring opportunities,” Ball, said.
Because of the change he made, Ball was able to increase the number of AP classes from 12 to 23.
Last school year, more than 24 percent of the Etowah student body conducted in AP exams, the highest rate Etowah or Cherokee County has ever had.