Arlington Public Schools has hired a well-liked high school principal from Alexandria.
APS announced four new principal appointments last night, after their approval by the Arlington School Board. Among them: Alexandria City High School (ACHS) Principal Peter Balas, who will take over as principal of Wakefield High School in the fall.
Wakefield, which has faced the overdose death of a student as well as threats of violence this year, has its top spot open with Principal Chris Willmore being promoted to Director of Secondary Education at APS.
Balas, who has been with Alexandria City Public Schools for 22 years, took over at then-T.C. Williams High School in 2017. Since then, Balas has navigated the school through Covid, a consequential decision to stick with one large high school for the city, the school’s renaming and issues around violence in and outside of the school.
ACHS saw frequent leadership turnover in the years before Balas took charge and, despite continued turnover at the leadership level in the years that followed, Balas has been a stabilizing force for the school.
“To watch these students grow over time is more rewarding than I ever anticipated,” Balas wrote in announcing his decision to take the Wakefield position. “And, seeing all of my elementary school students now at the high school has given me one of the most unique and special opportunities of my career. My time in ACPS has made me a better teacher, leader and person.”
Balas said he won’t leave until June and will see the school year through until graduation.
Also last night, APS announced a trio of elementary and middle school principal appointments, including Long Branch Elementary Assistant Principal Carolyn Jackson becoming principal of Gunston Middle School.
At its May 11 meeting, the Arlington School Board appointed Carolyn Jackson as Principal of Gunston Middle School. She currently serves as the Assistant Principal of Long Branch Elementary School.
Jackson earned a Bachelor of Science from North Carolina A & T State University, a master’s from George Washington University and George Mason University and is currently working on a Doctor of Education from William and Mary.
Jackson has been an educator serving Arlington Public Schools in a variety of roles for 23 years. Throughout her career, she has served in different capacities at Gunston Middle School, including teacher, activities director, Director of Counseling Services and Assistant Principal. Jackson also served as a counselor at Claremont Immersion School, Assistant Principal at Nottingham Elementary School and a Supervisor in the Office of Equity and Excellence.
Rounding out the appointments are new Hoffman-Boston Elementary Principal Helena Payne Chauvenet and new Carlin Springs Elementary Principal Carmen De La Cruz Scales. Payne Chauvenet is another external hire — she is currently principal of Maury Elementary School in D.C. — while De La Cruz Scales is an assistant principal at Arlington’s Washington-Liberty High School.
The hiring of Balas, meanwhile, is reverberating around Arlington’s southern neighbor, with many on social media lamenting a titanic loss at a time of transition for Alexandria’s school system.
Wow. Mr. Balas is truly a phenomenal principal. Wakefield is lucky to have him!
— Yahney-Marie Sangaré (@yahneymarie) May 12, 2023
— Ashley Simpson Baird (@ASBforACPS) May 12, 2023
That shattering sound you hear is my heart breaking. https://t.co/txZOXt8yQd
— Laura Simons (@_Simons_says) May 12, 2023
Vernon Miles contributed to this report
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Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.