No one wants to be sent to the principal’s office, but for Peter Balas, there’s no place he’d rather be. A passionate educator since 2001, he worked his way up from teaching social studies at Minnie Howard to become assistant principal at T.C. Williams High School. He then spent a five-year tenure as principal of Mount Vernon Community School before returning to T.C. Williams High School in 2017 as principal.
“I come to work each and everyday because of the kids. Seeing them in their senior year as they plan out their next life moves is so rewarding.”
“The passion I have for my work is perhaps because of my upbringing. I grew up in a single-parent household with three siblings. My mother worked tirelessly to take care of us, but we grew up on government assistance in an area that did not have that many families in this type of situation,” explains Balas. “I was passionate about school and about improving my chances in life, which made me push myself as hard as I could. I had my first job at age 13, and, learning my work and school ethic from my mother, I continued achieving my life’s goals along the way. I have the best job and use my upbringing as way to find connection with my students.”
Finding connections with his students is crucial to being an effective principal and leader. Balas also understands the importance of connecting with members of the Alexandria business community. A member of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, Balas uses his natural leadership abilities and engaging personality to forge relationships with businesses and professionals who can offer their resources to the school, opening future opportunities to the students in his care. “The businesses in Alexandria are connected to T.C. staff and students in many ways,” Balas says. “We have developed partnerships with businesses as a school and through different student groups as well as with our Athletic Department. Our businesses help make things happen at T.C.—such as our annual All-Night Graduation Party. We have even named our College and Career Center Hallway after the wonderful Jack Taylor. We also work with businesses to employ our students and help them gain the experiences to be successful in life. Finally, our area hotels and stores help train some of our students with disabilities for high quality skill-building and career preparation. We are so indebted to our businesses and business leaders.”
“Being a member of the Chamber gives leaders the opportunity to work together to make sure that businesses in the city grow, which will also lead to more opportunities for our children.”
Ever passionate about the future of his students as well as the children in the community he serves, Balas lives by the principle that our youth are our future, He’s dedicated to seeing our youth thrive in that future.
Story by Liesel Schmidt + Portrait Courtesy of Alexandria City Public Schools
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