Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Pam Baldwin announced last week that McDougle Middle School Principal Bob Bales was named the 2019-20 Principal of the Year for the district.
According to a press release, Bales' peers chose him, and he will go on to represent the school district at the state level.
“Mr. Bales is a tremendous asset to our school district – and our entire community,” Baldwin said in the press release. “His staff and students find him to be a source of both inspiration and encouragement. He brings out the best in those around him.”
Bales said this is his first time being named Principal of the Year for CHCCS.
“I was very excited,” Bales said. “It speaks a lot to the work that we do here at the school and all of the efforts that are put in by the staff here.”
Bales grew up in Michigan and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University. He also holds a Master of Education degree from Pennsylvania State University.
After teaching in Michigan for a year, Bales said he moved to North Carolina and worked as a math teacher at Culbreth Middle School for six years. While at Culbreth Middle School, Bales worked as the department chair, basketball coach and administrative intern.
Bales then worked as an assistant principal at both Chapel Hill High School and McDougle Middle School, and in 2015, was named principal of McDougle Middle.
Bales has also served on the Principal Council for the Central Carolina Regional Education Service Alliance and is currently working toward his Doctorate of Education degree at Western Carolina University, according to the press release.
Bales said making sure students have a voice has always been important to him as a principal.
“We have students that come from varying backgrounds, varying ability levels, and we’re really trying to make sure that they come to school and feel valued and feel that they’re getting the best education that they possibly can,” Bales said.
McDougle Middle School PTA Vice President Sarah Kornstein said she has had the benefit of having Bales as the principal for two of her children.
“Since the very beginning, he has been innovative, collaborative and willing to take the PTA’s ideas or suggestions,” Kornstein said. “He listens to lots of different opinions and voices and then tries to come up with a solution, even if it’s a risk or requires doing something that hasn’t been done.”
One of these new ideas is The Social Institute, a social media educational program that teaches students how to navigate social media in positive, healthy ways. The program is co-funded by the PTA and the school.
Bales said the program isn’t about promoting students to use social media, but encouraging them to be good people.
“A lot of that can be done through the lens of social media and really trying to teach students what are some of the positive and negative things that come through social media,” Bales said. “That’s been something that the kids have really enjoyed this past year, having something where it’s an interaction with something that’s actually applicable to them.”
Kornstein said Bales is a good communicator.
“I just feel like he faces problems head on, and he’s just really good at communicating with both the kids and the parents,” she said.
Bales said he also strives to give McDougle Middle School a community feel by consistently communicating with parents and students.
“When people drop their kids off, we want them to know that they’re safe, they’re going to be respected and they’re going to be pushed a little bit to exceed their expectations,” Bales said. “As a parent myself, I know dropping my kid off, I’m trusting a lot in the school that I’m sending them to.”