Kerrie Bal, an English teacher at T.K. Stone Middle School, always strives to do her best, she said. On Mon­day, the district announced she was the top teacher this year.

Elizabethtown Independent Schools Superintendent Jon Ballard surprised Bal Monday to announce she won the WHAS-11 ExCEL Award. The annual award stands for Excellence in Classroom and Educational Leader­ship and recognizes teachers from area school districts.

Bal is in her seventh year of teaching. She’s spent her entire career at T.K. Stone.

Bal couldn’t stop smiling after the announcement. She said she was “totally psyched” about the award.

“There were really pheno­menal teachers who were up for it from the other schools,” she said.

Nicole Hines from Panther Aca­demy, Eric Bristol from Helm­wood Heights Ele­men­tary, Dana Ingram from Mor­ning­side Elementary and Ka­leena Thompson from Eliza­beth­town High School also were finalists.

“I’m just so excited,” Bal said.

One student said she should be excited.

“You deserve it,” he said.

The students were lobbying for no homework to celebrate the award.

A committee of teachers and administrators selects the ExCEL winner. Finalists interview with the committee and are observed in the classroom twice. This is the 27th year of the ExCEL Award for EIS.

T.K. Stone Principal Dawne Swank said Bal’s enthusiasm makes her stand out.

“She’s not afraid to take chances,” she said. “If it doesn’t work, try something else.”

Swank said Bal has a knack for building relationships with students.

“She is amazing,” she said. “She gets those kids. She drives them and they love her.”

She said students in her class are engaged with the material because of Bal.

“They do the work because they want to,” she said.

Katherine Knott can be reached at 270-505-1747 or

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