Teacher Feature on Mr. Balas


Photo via Mr. Balas

Junior High Math teacher Mr. Balas pictured above.

Kevin Clark, Staff Writer

What school do you teach at as well as the grades and subjects? 

I was hired by the SASD in August of 1986 & began my career, teaching Pre-Algebra & Algebra I, shortly thereafter. I taught 8th grade for 10 years in the beloved “tuna can”, followed by 4 years at the high school, teaching Geometry & Algebra II.  After construction was completed on the Junior High in 2000, I was asked to be a part of the inaugural teaching team, and I’ve been there ever since. 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small town western PA. As the son of a Lutheran Pastor, I was raised and continue to hold strong religious & moral values. They’ve come in quite handy in the public educational setting. 

What college did you attend?

After graduating from high school, I migrated east to Muhlenberg College in Allentown, where I studied mathematics and education. It was near the end of my sophomore year of college when I decided to go into teaching.  How else could I use mathematics, work with the youth & be the center of attention?

What’s your favorite part about teaching?

One of my ‘pet peeves’ if you will, is the usage of the phrase: “living the dream”.  More often than not, the sarcastic phrase is casually used in short conversations, usually in passing.  Let’s make it clear: I am living the dream! This is what I prepared for and have done now for many years! I enjoy every day with which we are blessed.  Sure, there are bad moments, however, part of my job (& this might be my religious upbringing doing the talking) is not only to teach the curriculum, but create academic understanding, social awareness & elevate students’ personal growth. Hey, as I said, I enjoy being here, I want others to enjoy each day with me. 

What is the best lesson you have ever taught?

School days are most enjoyable when I realize the lesson has been a successful “give & take” discussion, filled with “a-ha’s”, “oh yeah’s” & thoughtful follow-up responses. An educator’s career challenge is to do exactly this, as often as humanly possible. Sure, I personally look forward to specific topics such as “solving quadratic equations” or “finding points of concurrency in triangles”, but I don’t want to sound like more of a math nerd than I already am.  That’s OK. After 35 years, I believe I’ve done what I’ve set out to do.