August 30, 2017 Published in Editorials

Mr. Balas Takes The Helm Editorial

T. C. Williams High School has a new principal. Peter Balas, who served on T. C.’s administrative staff from 2007 to 2012, has been appointed to replace Jessie Dingle who resigned to return to North Carolina. For the past five years Mr. Balas has been Principal of Mount Vernon Community School.

When Mr. Balas left T. C., the school was on its way to full accreditation under the leadership of Suzanne Maxie. Since Ms. Maxie retired, T. C. has slipped back into accredited with warning status and test scores have declined, particularly in English and math.

We are pleased with the appointment of Mr. Balas. He has long experience in our school division and knows our students well. He is very familiar with T. C. having spent five years there and was a part of the effort which resulted in the school having fully accredited status. He should be very familiar with the programs and policies that Ms. Maxie used. Moreover he has fresh and innovative ideas that may help.

We are impressed with Mr. Balas himself. He was named Principal of the Year in Alexandria because of his work at Mount Vernon Community School. He has a positive attitude and great energy. He seems to care about all of his students and to view them as individuals rather than as part of a group. These attitudes and attributes will be a significant help to him.

Of course, T. C.  Williams will be a bit different than when he last served there. We are particularly concerned with the increased gang violence in Northern Virginia among the Latino population. We have noted the declining scores among Alexandria’s Hispanic students and wonder if gang activity is playing a role in it. We hope that Mr. Balas will address this issue. It is difficult to have high student achievement if the environment is not safe and secure.

It is also important to maintain the gains that Alexandria’s black students have made over the past few years. Their achievements have been hard won and they deserve the continuation of the programs and other support that have helped to bring it about.

We urge parents and the community in general to get to know Peter Balas. He has a big job to manage our City’s large and diverse high school. We should all try to help him bring T. C. back to full accreditation.


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