Southside Makers & Shakers: Dr. Jeanette Ball

San Antonio’s Southside is home to a very special community of creators, hard workers, and people that inspire—many of whom are leaders across the Alamo city. Our Southside Makers and Shakers blog series celebrates Southsiders making their mark. Each addition to the series offers new insight into the community and the gente that make the Southside so unique.

Jeanette Ball speaking at PAC for Cast STEM

In this blog, we interview the Superintendent of Southwest ISD, Dr. Jeanette Ball.

Tell us about yourself, your organization, and the work that you do.

I am currently serving as the superintendent for Southwest ISD, a position I have held since February of 2023. My educational journey began in SWISD in 1995 when I relocated from Del Rio to this area. I was initially attracted to SWISD because of its small-town ambiance, reminiscent of my upbringing. The close-knit community had a familial atmosphere, which I found appealing. In 1995, SWISD looked vastly different from what it does today. There were no Bill Miller’s, McDonald’s, or QT gas stations; instead, it was predominantly farmland, with vast expanses of open fields where anyone could easily get lost. Despite the rural landscape, what truly captivated me were the kind and gracious people of the community.

My teaching career began at McNair Middle School during a time when SWISD had a modest number of students, a stark contrast to the current enrollment figures. Over the years, the district has experienced rapid growth, evolving from a single high school district to encompass three high schools, four middle schools, and ten elementary campuses. This growth has brought with it residential neighborhoods and apartment complexes that were non-existent in the past.

My passion for my work and dedication to serving the community stems from my belief that SWISD is similar to the community I grew up in. As a servant leader, my goal is to make a positive impact on the individuals I interact with daily. I consider it a blessing to have this opportunity, and my goal is to make the journey smoother and easier for our students and families each day. I feel my job as a superintendent is to prepare each child for success. Many times, I share that it is my responsibility to lay out a buffet of opportunities for students so they can pick and choose what they want to participate in and get involved in. I want to ensure that our students have every opportunity possible to them as if they lived on the Northside of town. I want them to have fine arts, athletics, college readiness, career pathways, military options, and more. My firm belief in the transformative power of public education drives me to ensure that every action I take contributes to enhancing the lives of our students.

SWISD is a unique district, offering a balance between a small-town atmosphere and ample opportunities for student growth. With specialized elementary campuses focusing on Fine Arts and STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), as well as bilingual programs, dual credit classes, and certification options, we are preparing students for a successful future, equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in an ever-changing world.

What inspired you to become a leader on San Antonio’s Southside, and what keeps you motivated to continue your work?

The inspiration for my journey into education stems from my own challenges during my school years. Unlike my sisters, who excelled academically as straight-A students, I had to put in significant effort to achieve similar grades. In addition, I had a teacher who suggested that my struggles in school were due to my bilingual upbringing; being taught Spanish by my parents was portrayed as a disadvantage. Despite being proudly bilingual at a young age, this remark made me question its impact on my academic journey for the first time. During my ninth-grade year, a counselor discouraged me from pursuing higher education, stating that college wasn’t a viable path for me. This was devastating, particularly because my mother had always emphasized the value of education and the importance of attending college, framing it as an expectation rather than a possibility. Fortunately, I had the support of my mother. It was her encouragement that fueled my determination to ensure that no other child would experience the same discouragement or feelings of inadequacy that I did. I was driven by the desire to create an environment where bilingual or Hispanic students, like myself, never felt marginalized or underestimated. I am committed to empowering all students, especially young women and girls, to believe in their abilities and pursue their dreams. While success may require hard work, resilience, and faith, I am dedicated to ensuring that every student knows they have the potential to achieve their goals.

Jeanette Ball poses for a photo with a group of young women

Tell us about some of the partnerships and initiatives at SWISD.

At Southwest ISD, we recognize the importance of community engagement and continually look for opportunities to give back through volunteer programs, resource-sharing initiatives, or collaborative projects. From hosting educational workshops for parents and residents to providing access to facilities for community events, we work hard to be a valuable resource for our community. Additionally, the district implements service-learning projects.

These projects teach our students the importance of helping their community and also gives them the chance to make a positive impact in their neighborhoods. Plus, they gain valuable skills and develop empathy along the way.

We also place great emphasis on building strong partnerships with other organizations and leaders to enhance the educational experience for our students. Through collaborative efforts with local businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community leaders, we’ve been able to create opportunities for shared resources, expertise, and support. These partnerships have resulted in innovative programs, mentorship opportunities, internships, and career pathways that prepare students for success beyond the classroom.

Looking to the future, what projects are you most excited about, and how do you believe they will benefit our city and its residents?

Many of the programs at Southwest ISD are designed after studying the needs of the workforce. Through partnerships with companies like Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. and Holt Cat, we align our curriculum with the skills demanded by employers.

For instance, our upcoming collaboration with Evenflow Home & Commercial Services focuses on the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Sheet Metal Program at Southwest Legacy High School. Recognizing the shortage of HVAC workers in our city, this partnership equips our students with industry-certified skills and offers internship and potential employment opportunities with Evenflow. Additionally, we’re broadening our collaboration with South Texas Business Partnerships to connect our students with local opportunities and resources in the region.

What do you believe makes Southside San Antonio unique compared to other parts of the city?

Despite being situated in a bustling city, the Southside has a close-knit, family-like atmosphere. With multiple generations choosing to call this area home, everyone feels like family. Everyone knows each other. Because of this, there is a lot of heart in the community. When someone is in need or in trouble everyone comes together to help take care of this individual or family. We are now starting to see a tangible surge of investment in both the community and the local economy. Coupled with the exceptional educational opportunities available through Southwest ISD, Texas A&M University – San Antonio, and Palo Alto College, we stand at the threshold of becoming one of the premier family-friendly places to reside in.

CAST STEM ribbon cutting

What else would you like to share about SWISD?

At Southwest ISD, we pride ourselves on being inclusive and providing opportunities for all of our students. We are wrapping up our second year of the SWISD Penguin project. This program provides an opportunity for children with special needs to participate in a unique theatrical experience and an outlet for revealing their creativity and talents. In January our students put on a magical performance of The Little Mermaid Jr. It was really inspiring to see these children shine on stage.

I’m also really proud of the work we’ve accomplished with some of our partners. We recently moved our CAST STEM High to Palo Alto College. This move will not only provide our students with a cutting-edge learning experience, but also enhance their access to higher education pathways. We also just celebrated the inaugural flight of Southwest High School’s Dragon One, the first student-built plane in South Texas through our aviation program and with collaboration with partners such as the Dee Howard Foundation and the City of San Antonio. We are now in the planning stages of building our second plane.

Where can our community learn more about SWISD?
Instagram – @southwestisd
Facebook – SouthwestISD
Twitter – @swisd


1000 667 VIDA
Keep In Touch
Learn More About Living Here
Search for...
Our website uses cookies, mainly from 3rd party services. Define your Privacy Preferences and/or agree to our use of cookies.