Balas, who has been with Alexandria public schools since 2001, made the announcement in a May 11 letter to parents and students.
“After 22 years with Alexandria City Public Schools as a teacher, an assistant principal, and a school principal at Mount Vernon Community School and Alexandria City High School, I am saying farewell to you all as I explore the next phase of my career,” Balas wrote. “To watch these students grow over time is more rewarding than I ever anticipated. My time in ACPS has made me a better teacher, leader and person.”
Balas was appointed by then-Superintendent Alvin Crawley as principal of ACHS in 2017 following the departure of Jesse Dingle. At the time, Balas was the third principal in three years at the school. Dingle was appointed to the post in 2015 but left the area in 2017 to be near family in North Carolina. Dingle was preceded by Suzanne Maxey, who held the job for five years.
“In my time at ACHS, I am so excited to have been part of amplifying students’ voices through the school renaming process, participated in the High School Project, led the school during times of a dual pandemic, and worked to strengthen student support systems and school safety, all while having our Titans consistently shatter athletics, academic and arts records on local, state and national levels,” Balas wrote.
Balas holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in secondary education from Hofstra University. He spent eight years in the classroom as a high school social studies teacher. While teaching, he earned two master’s degrees from George Mason University: one in Curriculum and Instruction and one in School Leadership.
Balas began his teaching career at Northpoint High School and Middle School in New York in 2000. He first joined ACPS in 2001, and in 2007, he became an assistant principal and executive associate principal at then-named T.C. Williams High School. In April 2012, Balas was appointed principal of Mount Vernon Community School where he served for five years. During these years, Balas worked with staff and community to make MVCS the school division’s first and only full school dual language program.
After his years as an elementary principal, Balas was named ACPS Principal of the Year 2017 before transitioning back to the high school to be principal. At ACHS, Balas has led more than 4,500 students and 400 staff across four campuses in the city’s only public high school. It is also the largest and most populous high school in the Commonwealth.
Balas oversees the Graduation Task Force that monitors completion statuses and drop-out interventions. He also leads the educational transformation of tier one instruction with a focus on student engagement, providing training for the implementation of Kagan Cooperative Learning and Project-Based Learning. He led the school as it achieved the highest levels of student graduation and lowest levels of drop-out in the school’s history.
Balas replaces Wakefield Principal Chris Willmore, who has been promoted to Director of Secondary Education at Arlington Public Schools.
“I am honored to have had the last 22 years with the most amazing students, staff, families and community,” Balas said. “I have learned and grown so much. I hope you have found me to be the kind of leader that made a difference in the lives of ACHS Titans. And, it is my true hope that what I often write to others applies to me: Once a Titan, Always a Titan.”