Darius Ballard ’07
Just weeks into his career as a biology and environmental studies teacher at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids, Darius Ballard ’07 reported two major highlights.
First, seeing his students having “a-ha” moments that tell him his lessons are sinking in. Second, helping to orchestrate Pledge Day, an experiential event designed to curb bullying and build positive relationships among Jefferson’s 1,600 students.
At Cornell, Ballard helped produce fun events like the Ultimate Foam Dance Party, Nerf Gun Dart Wars, and The Price is Right as a member of the Performing Arts and Activities Council (PAAC). In the process, he says he gained valuable skills that will serve him well as a teacher.
“I learned to be more creative, outspoken, and aggressive, while honing my leadership skills,” he says. “The most memorable moments were when a brand new brainchild I had a hand in went off without a hitch.”
Ballard also found time to be of service to others. He served as a peer advocate and residence hall council advisor, and co-founded a Greek Life service group, Sigma Kappa Psi. He also participated in intramural sports, attended many athletic events, and was named Homecoming King.
He says that his education courses provided him with the pedagogical tools to succeed as a teacher. Meanwhile, Cornell’s flexible One Course At A Time schedule made it possible to grow outside the classroom, as well.
“OCAAT allows you to be more active on campus because the class day is over at 3:00,” he says. “You have a little more freedom to experiment on campus and find your niche.”