By Ashlee Oakley
Our community welcomes a new principal to SGI high school, James Bialasik.
While he was born in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Bialasik spent his middle and high school years in the Springville Griffith school district. When his father retired from the Secret Service and decided to head back to his roots in Buffalo, Bialasik was moved to Springville’s Middle School… a little bit of culture shock as a 10-year-old boy, and he says his formative years may have not gone so well if it weren’t for the teachers who cheered him on and urged him to succeed.
Bialasik was an athletic student, playing football and running track through middle and high school, then playing football for Canisius College. He credits his sports experiences for instilling the principles he has had for his life and his career. From Canisius, he also earned a dual major in math and math education.
While working as a high school math teacher for the Sweet Home Central school district starting in 2003, he also earned a Masters degree in Math Education at the University of Buffalo.
From the beginning, it seemed he tended to take on leadership roles naturally. He was a teacher on special assignment as the Sweet Home High School assistant principal for a year; the next year, he had the opportunity to do the same at the middle school, and so, was the Dean of Students at Sweet Home Middle School. He went on to be the math coordinator, and then the coordinator for secondary education, managing the instructional programs within the entire district.
He notes, “Obviously, much of my experience up until [the Coordinator for Secondary Education job] had been mathematics, and it really helped me to see more of a global perspective, to understand not only the core area subjects, but to really understand the off-core areas as well, such as arts, technology, physical education… I had a lot of opportunity to do a lot of work in those different areas. And that’s one thing I’m proud of in my work at Sweet Home, in bringing an emphasis back to some of those elective areas that are so important to the students.”
When asked what he thinks he is bringing to the table for the benefit of the SGI community, he talked about the many changes over the years regarding state assessments.Bialasik says, “The social studies is really undergoing quite a bit of change, the Common Core is really out at the high school level now in both ELA and mathematics. On the science side, as well, basically, the state is really looking at changing our standards. They are in the process of doing that final revision.”
He has really taken the time and opportunities, he explained, to study and understand the new timelines and revisions to the high school’s Common Core guidelines, and he believes this knowledge is a strength he brings to the school, and the district.
His reasons for coming back to Springville are simple; he loves the area, and enjoys that his 5-year-old son, Kaiden, can start kindergarten at Springville Elementary School, and both his family and in-laws are close. He has also always wanted the fortuity to come back and serve in this district, but found a job in Sweet Home. He had lived in many local areas since then, until he and his wife built a house in Boston in 2007-2008, to finally come home. “It’s an opportunity to give back to the school; I really had an incredible experience at this school… there were a lot of people in this building that were mentors for me, and I felt like if I could do that for other students who live in this district, I would love that opportunity.” He lauded his staff for making meaningful relationships with the students a priority, as well as communication. Bialasik and Kate Werner, Assistant Principal of SGI’s High School, have been planning to see how they can streamline the avenues of communications, student needs, and community, staff, and faculty relations. He praises Werner as a wonderful asset, as she knows everyone—the kids, parents, and faculty, and she, too, wants to see them thrive, and be the best they can be.
On the forefront of their minds is technology integration and education, and how as a team, each student can be reached, regardless of their demographics.
In relation to discipline, Bialasik is adamant about being patient with the students, and getting to the root of problems. He lauds the idea of having each student be “social/emotional first-responders.”
“You know that 99 percent of the students know that [bullying, harassment, etc] is the wrong thing, and aren’t involved… it’s getting the 99 percent who are just around to GET involved. You are empowering students to know that it’s okay to do the right thing.”
Although he has a lot on his plate with his wife Krista (another SGI Alumni, class of ‘00), 5-week-old baby Kole, and a new kindergartener, new house, and now, a new job, Bialasik plans to get involved in the community once he is settled in. He says he was very adamant about working at the high school, because the best part is the ability to directly impact kids’ lives. “They walk out of here, they’re off to the world– they’re adults.” Going from a nervous freshmen into capable adults is an amazing, yet sometimes difficult transition to being ready for real life, and he wants to help your children succeed.
For any questions or concerns you have for Mr. Bialasik, please see the district website for contact information.