National Teachers Hall of Fame recognizes LVA Music Teacher

by Misael Virgen

Launch Virtual Academy (LVA) music teacher Keith Ballard, is representing the state of California as one of the newest inductees into the 2024 National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF).

Driven by his passion for nurturing young minds and fostering a love for music, Ballard’s journey into education began in the Sweetwater Union High School District more than 28 years ago. He has taught mariachi music, steel drum band, African drum ensemble, and currently teaches guitar at Launch Virtual Academy.

2024 National Teachers Hall of Fame educator Keith Ballard.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized alongside so many dedicated educators,” said Ballard.

“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to represent our school, our district and our state.” he said.

His extraordinary dedication has earned him over 25 teaching awards, including the prestigious Milken National Educator Award. Additionally, Ballard’s classroom programs have been featured in the media over 80 times, including in national broadcasts such as the NBC Today Show, CBS This Morning, and PBS National Television.

Ballard has made significant contributions to the field of education through his extensive research and speaking engagements, including a groundbreaking comparative international education project, which involved visiting 170 K-12 public schools worldwide and his TEDx Talk at Grand Canyon University which emphasized promoting solutions in the U.S. K-12 education system. His adventurous spirit has also lead him to complete feats such as the Alcatraz Swim, world-class rock climbing, skydiving and summiting Mt. Aconcagua.

Furthermore, Ballard’s extensive travel experiences, including visiting schools inside North Korea, demonstrate his commitment to understanding diverse cultures and perspectives. His motto, “The truly educated never graduate,” epitomizes his passion as a lifelong learner.

“Keith’s adventurous and determined spirit, combined with his commitment to the South Bay community, make him a natural fit for our school,” said Launch Virtual Academy School Principal Dr. Jesus Ulloa-Higuera.

“We are proud to have Mr. Ballard, a true Hall of Fame educator, propelling our students into the future,” he said.

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  • What is Launch Virtual Academy?

    Launch Virtual Academy is a Course-Based Independent Study School using a blended learning pedagogical approach designed for the student and family that wants a flexible program that maximizes choice. It is open to any 7th – 12th grade student that wants their education primarily online. It provides Choice, Flexibility, Personalized Learning, Online and On-Site Activities, Certified Teachers, Engaging Curriculum, Access to On-Site enrichment programs (as conditions allow and safety protocols are in place) including Sports, Visual and Performing Arts, Career Technical Education (CTE) and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM).

  • How is Online Learning at Launch Virtual Academy different than Distance Learning?

    Launch Virtual Academy is an online school. It is not Distance Learning. Launch Academy is an independent study program where student attendance is based on satisfactory course progress, not seat time. There is teacher online instruction (LIVE Academic Sessions) and student collaboration, but less frequent than what students experienced during Distance learning. In regular school the teacher paces the class for all students to be on the same curriculum topics. At Launch Academy students have access to the course content 24/7 and can move faster through the curriculum than regular school. Students at Launch move independently through the course content while teacher monitors, evaluates, and provides support. Launch offers personalized and flexible education for each student.

  • Who can attend Launch Virtual Academy?
    1. Any student  in grades 7th-12th who lives within the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) boundaries.
    2. Any  student in grades 7th-12th who lives outside SUHSD boundaries but obtains an inter-district transfer permit from their current district office.
  • How many classes do students take at a time?

    We operate on a quarter system. Within each quarter, students will take 3 classes (credits). Each quarter class is equivalent to a semester-based class at a comprehensive school. By the end of the academic year students will complete 12 credits (classes) just as they would at a traditional site. Opportunities for advanced credit completion are also available within our quarter system.

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