New Director, New Direction


Photograph by Courtesy D Ball

The Ball Family

With a new director comes much change and it’s no secret that running an Upper School comes with huge responsibility. But for Donald Ball, it might be less of a daunting task because teaching and education is what he was brought up to do. “I come from a family of educators. My father was a teacher and head of school,” Mr. Ball revealed, with a hint of nostalgia.  “My mother was also a teacher. They were powerful role models for me.”

The nomadic director has gone from his boyhood in Albany, New York to California where he lived into his teens, then to Tennessee. Together with wife Meredith and son Joshua, they hope to make Miami their long-term residence.

“When I moved to Miami it actually felt very familiar and more comfortable,” said Mr Ball, because “it is more similar to LA. [My wife and I] have family here, it feels like home.”       But being a Director comes with its challenges, according to former Upper School director Glen Turf.  “Always trying to stay one step ahead so you continue to attract students and families. This way we are always providing something that’s interesting and cutting edge. With technology and everything moving so rapidly it’s always hard staying one step ahead. Another one [challenge] is dealing with so many different personalities. Having a staff that’s well qualified, but  very different. So many students wanting different things and parents wanting different things, and trying to find a happy medium,” Turf explained.

Coming from at a range of schools, each with its unique identity and way of working, Mr. Ball may be thinking of making changes and additions that were implemented at schools where he worked previously, so Miami Country Day’s Upper School can expect things that may be unfamiliar. Since last July when he got here, he got right to work, getting to know our community and has already made some big changes.  It seems like deciding on a new schedule for 2019, is not the only innovation being made currently.  “We have projects going on, curriculum development, as well as professional development,” explained Mr. Ball.  

Academic Dean Dan Bronish added, “We are all working together as a team to examine our curriculum, and our programs and adjusting those for the opportunities, the new schedule will allow the students to have. It allows Mr. Ball to bring programs that he would like to see at our school.”

Mr Bronish says he can often count on Mr. Ball to help balance the workload. Taking up a significant role like Upper School director means having to oversee hundreds of young adults. “Keeping a program that is engaging for the students is a priority, but then also you’re dealing with young adults that are trying to stretch their wings,” expressed Bronish on one of the many challenges a director must face in his career. Although, for a man whose family business has been education, director seems like a good fit.

Having someone like Donald Ball, come from outside of MCDS offers a new perspective along with fresh ideas. “I think having someone from the outside is always exciting. They bring in different points of view that you wouldn’t get to see from someone on the inside,” stated Turf. “Someone from the outside is certainly going to bring opinions and experience from where they previously worked, and then try to mold them into the community we already have established here.”

Mr Turf generously offered some helpful advice. “To use this year to get to know the community as much as possible. To stay true to your inner gut. To listen to what he has inside of him, and to spend time enjoying and getting to know the community here,” suggested Turf.  Miami Country Day is full of spirit, family, and teachers who care about their students and craft.

“The best way to make an impact on someone is to learn and grow and help them to learn and grow,” Donald Ball told us. That thinking, along with his experience, certainly make for a valuable addition to the Upper School administration as we begin to take a new direction.