Tony Ball, a physical education teacher at Farley Elementary School, has been selected as the 2019-20 recipient of the Brenda and Tom Wickham Educational Service Award. Usually awarded in the spring of the year, the award was delayed until September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last spring Ball completed his 17th year as a teacher in the Western Dubuque School system, having taught at Farley, Epworth and Peosta elementary schools. He is a University of Northern Iowa graduate. He recently completed his master’s degree at Morningside College.
Ball has been nominated for the award in the past, and teacher associate and parent, Lynsee Wolf, was his ardent supporter in April 2019. In her nomination she said, “Tony has endless energy for the students. As a para-professional, I get to see more than other staff because I supervise a student during their gym time. Tony can make anything fun and finds the most creative ways to make 30 minutes fly by. He is always supportive of all types of student ability, makes sure everyone is safe during what sometimes looks like organized chaos and makes sure we all have red cheeks by the end of the class.”
Wolf continued, “He organizes more extra activities for the students than any other gym teacher I have ever met. My son got to participate in the archery club this year where Tony organized a spring trip to Plum Creek Archery. It got rave reviews from the parents and students. Tony’s activities allow students to explore things they might not do otherwise. He is a wonderful teacher.”
Ball has also set up club activities for third and fourth-grade students. The clubs range from running and jump rope to magic and leadership. He has also assisted in organizing a family fun night and a staff family night at a nearby community center.
Last year Ball and his wife, Abby, sold their Peosta home and ventured on a five-week summer western trip with their seven children, four of whom were foster children they have now adopted. In addition, they sold 75% of their possessions in quest of a simpler life and more quality time with their family.
A committee of past winners of the award selected Ball as the 2020 winner. Past winners include Diane Zismer, Wes Dolphin, Paula Welter, Mary Kay Georgen, Teri Ehlers and Sandy Ross Gassman, from Drexler Middle School; Tom Spalla, Ellen Haley, Deb Heisler and Shelia Knapp, from Farley Elementary; Laura Hoerner, Jerry Ross, Tom Danner, Jerry Schmidt, Julie Westercamp, Diane Callahan, Carla Altes and Paul Schramm, from Western Dubuque High School; Tammy VanCleve, from Epworth Elementary and Lisa Dallenfeld, from Peosta Elementary.
The Brenda and Tom Wickham Educational Service Award was established by the eight Wickham children in 2002 in recognition of their parents’ 55 years as educators in the Western Dubuque School District. Tom began teaching and coaching at Peosta High School in 1961 and served as a teacher and coach at WDHS from 1962-65. He was a principal and school administrator throughout the district from 1965-98. He retired in 1998, but coached tennis and basketball from 2000-05. Brenda began teaching special education in 1990 at Epworth Elementary. Over the next 12 years, she spent time at both Epworth and Drexler schools. She retired in 2002.