Students Give Standing Ovation To Retiring Tulsa School Superintendent

Friday, May 22nd 2015, 2:09 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The top leadership at Tulsa Public Schools changes next month. Dr. Keith Ballard is retiring after seven years as TPS superintendent and 40-plus years in education.

Friday was the last day of classes on the regular calendar at Tulsa Public Schools, and it was the last chance for Ballard to visit students in the classroom.

Ballard is down to the last few times he'll walk the halls of a Tulsa Public school as superintendent.

While he seemed to know most of the people he met - people gave him hugs and handshakes - he still asked about schools and meeting the students.

Ballard said his final tour of schools made him thankful that his own parents worked hard to get their children off to college, making it possible for him to have the career he's had.

“And what they instilled in me and my siblings changed the trajectory of all of those lives,” he said.

Over the last few days, Ballard has been shaking a lot of hands - the thousands of 2015 graduates from Tulsa Public Schools.

He's been superintendent for most of the time they've been in TPS, and his influence will last well into the years, for a new generation of children he helped educate.

Ballard said he's most proud of successful bond issues, the school consolidation effort and the effort to improve teacher quality.

He's been in education 43 years and is retiring after seven years as the superintendent.

"It's just the greatest city, the greatest schools, and I just am the most blessed person ever that I got to do this," Ballard said.

He went to four schools Friday, but nothing matched what looked like a victory lap at Eugene Field Elementary as he got a hallway standing ovation from students that lined up to cheer for him.

Ballard's last day in the office is June 30, but with some vacation time, he'll be out of the office before then and Dr. Deborah Gist takes over from there.

Ballard's still going to be around the classroom though, taking on a professorship at the University of Oklahoma's Tulsa campus.