Teachers College Alumni Award winners honored on campus on Wednesday, January 18, 2023.

When you receive your degree from the Teachers College, you join an accomplished group of more than 31,000 alumni. From the classroom to state educational administration, Teachers College (TC) alumni are making names for themselves.

Each year TC honors a few of our outstanding alumni with awards that celebrate the impact that they have on their community, field, and the TC family.

Nathan Boyd – Teachers College Outstanding Alumni Award Winner

Nathan Boyd is a recipient of the Teachers College Outstanding Alumni Award. He graduated in 2001 with a degree in Special Education, Mild Disabilities. He went on to earn his master’s degree in Secondary Special Education and Educational Leadership from Indiana University, South Bend in 2008, and a PhD in Educational Leadership from Purdue University in 2022.

Dr. Boyd is currently a Leadership Coach for the National Aspiring Principal Fellowship, where he coaches new principals and those pursuing their principal certification. He also recently started a YouTube channel @DiveIntoBooksDrBoyd, where he reads children’s books. The channel stresses that “every child is one book away from discovering the joy between each page.”

What made you want to earn a degree in education?

I participated in an observation of a classroom (Sutton Elementary) and instantly fell in love with the experience. After the first week, I even took home the class hamsters for the teacher over Christmas break. By my 3rd year, I had already changed my major a total of three times by that point, so finding something I enjoyed and wanted to show up to class for excited me.

Although like many young football players, I had dreams of being drafted into the NFL and that still remained a priority “Plan A”. It was during a moment, while I sat somewhere near La Bambas in the Village stuffing my face with burritos, that my two worlds began to collide. I understood there is life after football and that my Plan ‘B’ had better be as strong as the energy (blood, sweat, and tears) I was dedicating to my dreams of playing professional ball.

The classroom became an extension to my competitive nature on the football field. To get by with passing grades was no longer an option for me. I have always been an intense competitor; however, during this awakening, I decided that I wanted to be one of the best teachers Ball State University’s Teachers College had ever produced. I began to compete against myself and took a quote by St. Jerome and slightly altered it to fit me. “Good, Better, Best. Never rest until what you do good is done better. Then never rest until your better becomes the absolute best.” One of the schools I was a principal at (Grissom Middle School, Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation) still uses this quote as their motto to this day!

What made you choose Ball State?

Honestly, the social life was something I had not experienced before. I came to Ball State on a football scholarship. I had a total of five different campus visits lined up my senior year, and Ball State was the first. By the end of my weekend visit I was ready to be a Cardinal. The remaining visits were canceled.

Do you have a favorite part of your time at Ball State? What do you look back on and remember fondly?

There are many! It could be memories of playing ball in front of 50k+ screaming fans in Florida or having a brief cameo on the David Letterman show when he sent Biff to make fun of Ball State Football. But I think it would have to be where I officially started my career and earned my very first paycheck as a teacher! I began my teaching career here in Muncie at the Youth Opportunity Center (YOC). To this very day, it remains one the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in the profession. I remember the friendships that were built, young lives impacted, and playing basketball with the students every Saturday morning. I still find myself telling people stories about my time at the YOC.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your time at Ball State? Any fun projects you worked on? Favorite class/professor/experience?

Yes, I almost forgot!  During my senior year, myself and several of my classmates spent our Spring Break student teaching at a Navajo Reservation in Henderson, Nevada. We spent the week there at a school called Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle. I enjoyed teaching so much, giving up my Spring Break for an opportunity such as this was an easy choice.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out at Ball State?

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zones. Embrace the journey and commit yourself to improving this world through your passions and gifts.

What is your favorite part of working in education?

It remains my personal mission to motivate, educate, and empower all young people to dream big and believe they possess the power to change the world. My favorite part of education is helping learners leave me as confident and determined contributors to our society.

Do you have any hobbies, or favorite things you do to relax that you would like to share with us?

I like to travel and take students on trips across our state, country and even out of the country. My farthest trip to date was taking 15 middle school kids to China for 10 days.

Fun fact about yourself:

I do not think I will ever retire. I have five kids: 24 (oldest son is a gym teacher), 17, 12, 3, 14 weeks (four boys and one baby girl).

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I was in complete shock when I read the email [announcing the award]. My wife actually got the email first and when she told me to read it, I thought she was playing a joke on me. Took her several minutes to convince me it was real!

Highlights of Previous Awards and Honors

  • 2012 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence recipient
  • 2012 Ball State G.O.L.D Award winner, an award that recognizes outstanding accomplishments of recent Ball State graduates.
  • Indiana School Counselor’s Association 2012 Principal of the Year
  • 2015 Michiana 40 Under 40 winner
  • 2016 Indiana Association of School Principals – Principal of the Year (District 2)
  • 2016 Indiana State Principal of the Year (State)
  • 2021 Black History Month Awardee, honored for service and leadership in the South Bend, Indiana community.

Most recent episode of Dive Into Books With Dr. Boyd