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Jan. 14, 2022

Ballance receives teaching award from state math council


A Northwest Missouri State University student is the Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) Outstanding Pre-Service Teacher of the Year.

Lainie Ballance, a senior elementary education major and mathematics education minor from Macon, Missouri, received the award at the MCTM annual conference Dec. 3-4 in Columbia, Missouri.

Award recipients are selected based on nominations and letters of recommendation.

“She has proven to be an exceptional student, always participating extremely well in class discussions, working collaboratively with classmates, both during class and outside of class in projects, and completing assignments at high levels,” said Dr. Jenni Wall, a Northwest associate professor of mathematics and statistics who recommended to MCTM that Balance receive the award.

Lainie Ballance received the Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics' Outstanding Pre-Service Teacher of the Year award in December.

Lainie Ballance received the Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics' Outstanding Pre-Service Teacher of the Year award in December.

Ballance, who plans to graduate from Northwest in May, is completing her residency practicum and student teaching requirements during the 2021-22 academic year in a fourth grade classroom at Eugene Field Elementary School in Maryville.

As she prepares to enter the teaching profession Ballance says she has enjoyed learning from other teachers and developing her own approaches to teaching children.

“I have worked and observed with teachers of all ages, and it has been such an eye-opening experience as to all of the different teaching styles and methods I have seen,” she said. “As a college student, I am constantly learning a mixture of old and new strategies to use in the classroom.”

Ballance decided to pursue her degree in education and a teaching career because she enjoyed connecting with children and working at a daycare in her hometown while she was a high school student. Along the way, she found a niche in mathematics.

“I had some awesome high school math teachers,” she said. “That’s where the math just kind of exploded for me. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I love this so much.’”

Expert faculty at Northwest helped Balance develop teaching strategies and gain important insights into how children learn. In addition to her student teaching program at Eugene Field Elementary School, Ballance took advantage of opportunities as part of her coursework to observe students at the Horace Mann Laboratory School, which serves children in kindergarten through sixth grade, on the Northwest campus.

“It’s super impactful,” Ballance said. “You get to see Horace Mann and they say, ‘You’re in the classroom on day one.’ You really are. My freshman year, we were already out, observing and you’re doing it. You start learning so quick and, along the way, you get so many different experiences.”

In addition to receiving the Outstanding Pre-Service Teacher of the Year award, Ballance was one of five Northwest students to attend the MCTM conference and presented a session with Wall, titled “Escape Rooms, Breakout Boxes and Virtual Breakout Rooms = Collaboration and Math Discourse.” Their presentation described games teachers can facilitate with students to review math concepts.

“Miss Ballance has been a fabulous collaborator as we have prepared activities for this presentation,” Wall said. “We have been able to split up responsibilities and share progress with each other in our meetings. She has found ways to improve my work and has helped me think outside the box.”

Balance added, “I just love learning all of the things about becoming a teacher, and I know with more observation, research and practice I will keep growing and learning about myself as a teacher and person, too.”


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704