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 Local Educators Recognized as “All-Star” Teachers

​The San Diego Padres have named three local teachers as finalists for a nationwide campaign that celebrates remarkable educators who have an impact on the lives of their students and communities.

The Target Presents People All-Star Teachers campaign is a collaboration between Target, PEOPLE And Major League Baseball (MLB).

The three finalists for San Diego and Imperial counties are Keith Ballard, Stephanie Hubner, and Tim Gilliland. They will be recognized during a special pregame ceremony on June 21. The public can visit to vote for their favorite through June 29.

Ballard, a music teacher at Southwest Middle School in San Diego, recognized that there was a need for musical programs designed for his many ethnic students and created an African drum ensemble, steel drum band, and one of the largest mariachi programs in the country, including 800 students from 13 schools in the district. His mariachi students have performed for presidents Bush and Clinton. Many of Ballard’s students have family members in Mexico who cannot travel to the U.S. because of documentation issues. Once a year, Keith takes his students to perform a large concert in Tijuana, where they are able to see their families for the first time. Over the course of his 20-year career, Ballard has received more than 30 teaching awards, including the 2003 Milken National Educator Award and the Cesar Chavez Human Rights Award.

Hubner, an English teacher at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, has worked with disadvantaged and high-need students there for more than 10 years. From teaching English to students with special needs to running a peer-mediation and anti-bullying program, Hubner’s commitment to each student goes beyond academics. In addition to her normal academic workload, Hubner also assists struggling students in the after-school tutoring center. In 2013, Hubner was recognized by her district as an outstanding teacher of English learners.

A native of San Diego, Gilliland took a job teaching in rural Arizona after graduating from San Diego State University. Thirty-six years later, the Desert Mesa Elementary School teacher is still going strong. A countywide Teacher of the Year finalist, Gilliland has mentored pre-service teachers for more than two decades.  He was one of the first teachers in his district to embrace the creative use of technology in the classroom and also pioneered the use of reading assistance dogs in schools. Gilliland’s fifth-grade class is currently working with their first-grade buddies to document the life stories of seniors in assisted-living facilities. Outside the classroom, he works with Guide Dogs for the Blind, and also helped establish Tails of Joy, a program that provides therapeutic pet visits to patients.

There are 90 finalists across the country.

One winner from each of the 30 MLB Clubs will be included in All-Star Week activities and recognized during the pre-game ceremony of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.  An “All-Star Teacher” winner will be featured in PEOPLE magazine during the week of the MLB All-Star Game.