By JOYANNA LOVE | Chief 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 step back and spend more time with her family.

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

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

However, having time off gave him time to think about “my family’s needs and what I needed to be able to do, and I thought maybe it was time” to retire.

Ballew said she noticed in recent years there were weeks when she worked until around 10 p.m. to make sure everything was done.

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

IHS holds a special place in his family’s history.

Ballew, his parents, and his grandfather all attended IHS. Now her twin daughters will be Isabella juniors next 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, lovely, as are the students.

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

Retirement won’t just be a time of relaxation for Ballew. She will work 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’s good to take a step back from what you’re doing, especially if you’re a person who’s an advisor and telling people to weigh their choices,” Ballew said. “You have to practice what you preach. I just felt like it would be a good time.

In her role as a school counselor, she offers advice to high school students in making decisions for their future as well as an attentive ear to the challenges they face in school or in life in general. She directs students who need more specific advice.

“It’s very hard work, but very rewarding,” Ballew said.

She said she would miss the job.

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

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

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

His interest in working in the field of education originally stemmed from Ballew’s love of music.

She graduated with a degree in music education and then taught general music classes at Selma for six years.

As her career progressed, she bonded with students who faced challenges.

“I seemed to really enjoy helping kids individually and especially kids who needed extra help, I seemed to really enjoy that, so I felt led to get my counseling degree,” Ballew said.

Upon graduating as a school counselor, Ballew worked at Montevallo Elementary for two years before applying for a position at IHS.

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

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

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