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Beyond the Board

Beyond the Board

Glenn Ball, Danville Independent Schools

Kentucky School Advocate
October 2021

Q. You moved back to Danville after living in Florida for 42 years. Why did you decide to run for the school board in 2018?  

I was substitute teaching and a school employee asked, ‘Mr. Ball, why don’t you run for school board? You have some experience we could use.’ So I did. I was successful. About eight of us ran and only three could win, and I was third by one vote.

Q. You’re known for wearing items that honor the Tuskegee Airmen. Why is honoring the nation’s first Black military aviators important to you?

My uncle Marvin Durr was a Tuskegee Airman. My first flight instructor, Cecil Ryan, who was also my major adviser at Tennessee State, taught Tuskegee Airmen before he taught me. I was able to buy a Tuskegee Airmen jacket and cap in Orlando in honor of them and in honor of what they did for me; they laid the groundwork for me.

Q. You are a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War. You have been a speaker at Danville schools on Veteran’s Day. What was your message to students?

I told them I did something very unusual; I graduated from college, then I enlisted in the Army. That is a different path, and it was the best thing I could have done. Through the GI bill when I left Vietnam I went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to become an aircraft mechanic. In my class there were 20 men; 19 of us were veterans.

Q. You then worked in aviation, for McDonnell Douglas and Eastern Airlines before you started teaching aviation at Tennessee State, but you also continued your education.  

I had a bachelor’s degree and an associate degree when I was hired at Tennessee State with the stipulation that I get my master’s, so I taught and went to school. I got 11 As and 1 B. I got a second master’s while I was with Martin-Marietta. I have four college degrees. And I’m a licensed pilot and a licensed aircraft mechanic.

Q. Although you are retired, you recently took on a new assignment.

I’m at the Central Kentucky Career Academy in Taylor County, substitute teaching aviation courses and drone operation and teaching high school students how to fly using airplane simulators.

Q. You attended Danville Schools when the district was segregated and graduated from Bate High School, the Black high school prior to integration. How does that experience help you as a board member today?

What I tell kids is if you get it in your mind, they can’t take it away. And I tell kids don’t get hung up on going to college. As long as you are qualified and certified for whatever expertise it is, you will have a decent standard of living. I tell them to look at the military. Three hots and a cot. An honorable discharge from the military is as valuable, if not more so, than a college degree. It means you can be disciplined and organize yourself and be a successful citizen.

Q. Are there issues that resonate with you as a board member because you were taught in segregated schools?

A lot of people did not come through a dual system as I did. So I tell them to make sure the school system has a model of success for all, no matter race, color or religion.

Getting to know

Profession: Army veteran; retired aviation professional; project manager at Kennedy Space Center

Hometown: Danville

Family: Married 51 years to Barbara Ball, who died Dec. 22, 2020; sons Sheldon and Damon  

Favorite subject in school: Civics and social studies    

Hobbies: Playing golf. Serves as church deacon and on local airport board.

Interesting fact: When he worked at Kennedy Space Center for almost five years, Ball was one of the many people who helped put the International Space Station into space. On different occasions, Ball met and shook hands with Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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