For five years, B’laster Products, Cleveland, OH-based makers of PB B’laster, and Tomorrow’s Technician, a brand dedicated to supporting the students and educators in the country’s technical and vocational schools have spent the entire school year searching for and telling compelling stories of amazing innovative, inventive and inspiring teachers who are giving everything they can to educate the next generation of automotive industry professionals.
The 2022-2023 Instructor of the Year competition was everything you want it to be: passion, dedication and commitment. And, in true underdog blockbuster style, we have a winner who might have been left behind years ago if not for one mentor who saw something in him.
Robert Ballard, Automotive Instructor at Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, NC, has been named the 2022-2023 Instructor of the Year. You can read Robert’s story HERE.
“It is clear that Robert has a passion for what he does,” said President & CEO, Randy Pindor. “From waiving his free periods to offer extra classes to organizing female lunch and learns in order to get more girls involved in the automotive program, Robert is continuously going the extra mile.”
Ballard credits his high school auto shop teacher for recognizing potential that he didn’t realize.
“The class was great, but Mr. Perry was amazing! I went from being a D and C student to a straight-A student in college,” Ballard explains. “I went to college at Durham Tech in North Carolina where I honed my automotive skills and even began teaching when I was only 17 years old.”
Ballard says he continually tries to be a mentor to his students today. “This was an amazing opportunity to become that teacher that I had in high school and hopefully change students’ lives like he did mine.”
In addition to Ballard, the remaining Instructor of the Year finalists were:
- Jeremy Davis, Hamilton Career and Technology Center, Westminster, SC;
- Rick Fortney, Bloomingdale Senior High School, Valrico, FL;
- Chad Groom, Six District Educational Compact, Hudson, OH;
- Dale McCraw, Madison Career and Technical Center, Madison, MS; and
- Joe Hires, Jefferson City Schools, Jefferson City, MO.
B’laster will present Ballard with B’laster products for his classroom, a $1,000 donation to the school’s automotive program, a $500 Visa gift card for himself, and a one-of-a-kind B’laster Instructor of the Year trophy.
“Instructor of the Year is a program that we are proud to support,” said Pindor. The educational aspect of automotive is an integral part of supporting the industry, so we are happy we can help out in such a way. Congratulations to Robert and all of our finalists.”
Previous winners include Jerry Koenig from Cuyahoga Valley Career Center in Brecksville, OH (2022), Bob Mauger from Corona High School in Corona, CA (2021), Ed Martin from Pickens Technical College in Aurora, CO (2020) and Joe Mendola from Gaither High School in Tampa, FL (2019).