Ballew retiring from long career at IHS

Published 11:10 am Thursday, June 2, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

A desire to help students facing challenges prompted Amy Ballew to pursue a career as a school counselor.

Now, after 18 years at Isabella High School, Ballew is retiring to take a step back and spend more time with family.

Ballew began thinking about retirement while the school was closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I had originally planned to stay until my twin daughters graduated,” Ballew said.

However, having some time off gave her time to reflect on “my family’s needs and what I needed to be able to do, and I thought this might be the time” to retire.

Ballew said she had noticed in recent years, there were weeks where she was working to 10 p.m. or so to make sure everything got done.

“People’s scholarships and livelihoods and everything else depend on you,” Ballew said.

IHS has a special place in her family history.

Ballew, her parents and her grandfather all attended IHS. Now, her twin daughters will be Isabella juniors next school year.

“I think that says a lot about the community … I love Chilton County,” Ballew said. “I love where I live. I wouldn’t really want to live anywhere else. The families here are very hardworking, sweet and so are the students.”

The 2022 school year was her 26th year as an educator.

Retirement will not just be a time of relaxation for Ballew. She will be working at Lowe’s starting this month. She said she hopes to “be a blessing to others” no matter where she is after retiring from education.

“Sometimes it is good to take a step back from what you are doing, especially if you are a person who is a counselor, and you are telling people to evaluate their choices,” Ballew said. “You have got to practice what you preach. I just felt like this would be a good time.”

In her role as a school counselor, she offers guidance to high school students in making decisions for their future as well as serving as a listening ear for challenges they are facing in school or life in general. She makes referrals for students that need more specific counseling.

“It is a very challenging, but very rewarding job,” Ballew said.

She said she will miss the job.

Developing relationships with students is what she has enjoyed most about her job.

She said working in the school’s after-school program was a highlight for Ballew in this final year as a school counselor.

“I really enjoyed it,” Ballew said. “The kids were so sweet.”

An interest in working in education originally stemmed from Ballew’s love of music.

She completed a music education degree, then taught general music classes for six years in Selma.

As her career progressed, she connected with students who were facing challenges.

“I just really seemed to like to help kids one-on-one and especially kids who needed extra help, I seemed to really enjoy that, so I felt led to get my counseling degree,” Ballew said.

When she completed her school counselor degree, Ballew worked at Montevallo Elementary for two years before applying to a position at IHS.

Ballew started as a part-time counselor for elementary grades, while also working in the library as an assistant. Later, she became a full-time counselor.

Music continues to be something Ballew enjoys. She has used these talents at Mulberry Baptist Church, where she plays the piano and is in the choir.