HOUSTON — Veteran teacher and motivational speaker Harriett J. Ball, who helped inspire the KIPP charter school system, has died. She was 64.

The KIPP Foundation tweeted news of Ball's death. The Houston Chronicle reported that Ball died at a Houston hospital after suffering a heart attack.

Ball taught for about 35 years in the Houston and Austin school districts before becoming a speaker, training thousands of teachers with her techniques.

The KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter chain includes 99 schools that serve about 27,000 children. The public schools help prepare low-income students for college.

The Chronicle said Ball used mnemonic devices, songs and movement to reach low-income children and got surprising results.

The paper quoted her son Paul Franks, 30, as saying he was thrilled that her message spread to so many teachers and children.

“She taught me that excuses are the tools of losers,” he told the Chronicle. “My mom was a very humble person. She wasn't afraid to buck the system to do what's right for kids … I'm just so proud of my mom.”

Her daughter Pamela Franks, 39, told the paper, “She taught me to make good better and fast faster and, if it's not broke, to still try to fix it. There's always room for improvement.”

Among her many honors, Ball appeared on Oprah and several other nationally televised shows.

The city of Galveston proclaimed Sept. 14 “Harriett Ball Day” and Ball was inducted in 2009 to the National Public Charter School Hall of Fame.

Ball, who was born July 1, 1946, in the Houston area, loved horses and crossword puzzles. She is survived by four children and nine grandchildren.

Information from: Houston Chronicle, houstonchronicle.com