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Leadership Team

Peter Balas

Peter Balas is the executive principal at Alexandria City High School (ACHS), a role he has served in since July 2017. Balas serves as the school leader to more than 4,500 students and 400 staff across four campuses in the only high school in the City of Alexandria. He also oversees the Graduation Task Force that monitors the status of all students in Grade 12 to ensure they are on track for graduation and provide support services as needed. 

Balas first joined Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) in 2001. Before taking on the role of executive principal at ACHS, he served as principal at Mount Vernon Community School. When ACHS was known as T.C. Williams High School (prior to its July 2021 name change), Balas served in the roles of executive associate principal and Academy principal. He also was the summer high school and middle school principal academy coordinator for STEM and a ninth grade teacher at the high school’s Minnie Howard campus.

Before joining ACPS, Balas was a global history and geography teacher at Northport High School and Middle School in New York. Balas has a Bachelor of Arts in history with a minor in secondary education from Hofstra University in New York. He has a master’s in education, curriculum and instruction: advanced studies in teaching and learning from George Mason University in Virginia (George Mason) and a master’s in educational leadership and administration from George Mason. Balas was named ACPS Principal of the Year 2017.

Michael Burch
Assistant Principal

Michael Burch is an assistant principal at Alexandria City High School (ACHS) with over 30 years of experience in working with young adults. Mr. Burch joined the staff of T.C. Williams High School, currently ACHS, in 2010 as a teacher in the physical education department. He has also served as the assistant athletic director, testing coordinator and head volleyball coach at the high school.

Before coming to Alexandria City Public Schools, Mr. Burch spent 17 years in college athletics with various higher education institutions. Mr. Burch holds both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in education from Virginia Tech University. He received his certification in educational leadership and administration from The George Washington University. Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His.

Jessica E. Hillery, MEd
Assistant Principal

Jessica Hillery became the assistant principal at Alexandria City High School (ACHS) King Street campus in 2022. Previously, Mrs. Hillery held various positions within ACPS to include lead academic principal of school improvement and mathematics ACHS, lead administrator Minnie Howard Campus, lead academic principal, academic principal, and technology integration specialist King Street Campus. She also was a math teacher at Francis C. Hammond and George Washington Middle Schools.

Mrs. Hillery earned a Bachelor of Arts in public justice from the State University of New York at Oswego and a Master of Education in educational leadership from George Mason University and a Master of Science from Dowling College, in Oakdale, New York. Mrs. Hillery premiered the March of the Titans graduation march through the ACPS elementary and middle schools with her class of 2014 Titans which continues on with each graduating class. Mrs. Hillery was a 2009 Alexandria Education Partnership Excellence in Education Award nominee. Preferred Pronouns: She/Her/Hers.

Lance Harrell, MEd
Lead Administrator of Operations and Student Support

Lance Harrell is the lead administrator of operations and student support at the Alexandria City High School Minnie Howard Campus. Mr. Harrell has over 20 years of experience in the field of education and previously served as an academic principal at George Washington Middle School. Before coming to Alexandria City Public Schools, he worked as an assistant principal at Ponchatoula Junior High School and as a principal at O.W. Dillon Elementary School. Mr. Harrell also served as a middle school math teacher. He earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and a master's in administration and supervision from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. Mr. Harrell is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His.

Christopher Speich
Acting Campus Administrator

Christopher Speich has been serving as the lead administrator for specialized instruction at Alexandria City High School since 2021. Prior to holding this post, Mr. Speich has worked in Alexandria City Public Schools as an assistant principal, dean of students, teacher, and coach. He holds degrees from The George Washington University and Radford University. Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His.

Alexander Duncan III
Campus Administrator

Alexander Duncan III has been the campus administrator for Alexandria City High School - Minnie Howard campus since 2021. Mr. Duncan joined Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) in 2007 as an English teacher and has worked at the middle and high school levels within the division. He has served as a departmental leader, dean of students, assistant principal, and summer school principal. Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) and partnerships with the community are a concentration of Mr. Duncan's work.

Mr. Duncan earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Johnson C. Smith University and a Master of Science in educational leadership from Trinity College. He also has endorsements in K-12 instruction. Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His

Michael A. Diggins
Lead Administrator

Michael Diggins became the lead administrator of Alexandria City High School-King Street (ACHS) in 2022. Mr. Diggins has been an educator in Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) since 1995. He was the dean of students at Francis C. Hammond Middle School (FC Hammond) from 2015 to June of 2022 and had previously served in the same position at T.C. Williams High School (TC Williams) now ACHS. Mr. Diggins also was an associate principal of George Washington Middle School (GW) and the eighth grade academic principal at FC Hammond. Prior to becoming an administrator, Mr. Diggins was the resource teacher at the STEP Center at TC Williams and had also taught several classes in the school’s marketing department. He began his career at Minnie Howard Ninth Grade Center as a technology teacher in 1995.

Mr. Diggins has a Bachelor of Science in marketing education from Virginia Tech and a master’s in education leadership from George Mason University. He also has a certificate in technology integration from Virginia Tech.

Mr. Diggins is an ACPS alumnus having attended Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, John Adams Elementary School, FC Hammond, GW and TC Williams now ACHS. Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His.