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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Master KIPP teacher Harriett Ball dies

By Jay Mathews

Mike Feinberg, co-founder of the KIPP charter schools, just told me that Harriett Ball, whose work inspired the network of public schools for low-income children that Feinberg created with Dave Levin, has died. Feinberg said Ball passed away from a heart attack Tuesday night.

Ball was one of the best teachers I ever saw in action. She responded in 1992 when novice teacher Levin, struggling to handle a rough class at a Houston elementary school, begged for help. She taught him and Feinberg a series of chants, songs, games and other original teaching methods that were at the heart of KIPP's growth -- now 99 schools in 20 states and the District.

Ball became a nationally known teacher trainer in her own right. She had a rich sense of humor and kept audiences of educators enthralled. I will be writing an obituary soon, but I wanted blog readers to hear this sad news as soon as possible.

By Jay Mathews  | February 2, 2011; 3:15 PM ET
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Such an influence. A force. From having met her once and watching the videos of her teaching, it's evident she is a master of her art. A legacy is what she has left us and we shall (we should) continue to improve the art of teaching. Yes, an art. It's a craft that need taiming, molding, and patience. But mostly innovation. Teaching...priceless, yet powerful. If we are to change the face of the education system in America, then we should learn from Harriet and her philosophy. It's is with great honor that I am able to say I work for KIPP. Love what you do!

Posted by: jjimenez10711 | February 3, 2011 11:59 PM | Report abuse

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