Teacher Feature on Mr. Balas

Junior+High+Math+teacher+Mr.+Balas+pictured+above.+

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.