CASTAIC — Red Balfour can see the tower at Six Flags California from the windows of his office at Castaic Union School District headquarters. And while the sight of the amusement park evokes feelings of adventure for some, to Balfour the vision means one thing: He’s back. The park was once a place where he took students on field trips when he was a teacher. After 31 years of working as a teacher, principal and in different administrative positions from San Diego to Modesto, Balfour is returning to the area. On July 1, his contract begins with the district, where he’ll be the assistant superintendent of educational services and human resources. “As a teacher, I took kids to Magic Mountain; I can actually see the tower from the district office,” he said. “Now I say, I’ve arrived. I’m back.’ It’s nice to be back in Southern California.” His start at teaching happened on a fluke, said the red-haired Balfour, named Donald but dubbed “Red” in the fourth grade. It was the 1970s, and he was attending San Diego State University when he heard that a nearby private school needed help. He was intrigued and began teaching two classes there. For the next 12 years, Balfour taught speech and the industrial arts — woodshop, auto, small engine repair — to junior high and high school students. Meanwhile, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial technology. He went on for a second master’s in education administration from National University in San Diego. “Teaching forces you to stay young, because you always have to stay on top of what’s going on,” Balfour said. “It keeps you young. At least young at heart. If I were to leave education, I’d just shrivel up.” After teaching in San Diego, the 54-year-old Balfour was hired by the Orange County Department of Education, where he eventually became an elementary school principal and began developing special programs to support students. One day, a teacher came to his office and talked about homeless children and how their education was inconsistent because of their living situations. She urged him to create a program to reach out to those children living in parks, cars and motel rooms. And he did. With a $350,000 federal grant for the program, he purchased two custom-built motor homes equipped as classrooms that were driven around town and were used to teach these kids. The homeless outreach program caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Education, and Balfour was flown to Washington, D.C., to explain it. It became a national model. Meanwhile, he became a consultant to the agency. For 15 years, Balfour served as a principal, overseeing elementary and high schools. He then moved on to San Benito High School District, where he has worked as director of human resources for 18 months. When he learned of the position at the Castaic district, he was again intrigued. About 23 others applied for the job, but it was Balfour, with his combination of education and human resources experience, who landed it in the end. “He’s an interesting fit for where we want to go,” said David Huffaker, school board president. The district is heading toward change. Enrollment at the Castaic district is expected to double to nearly 7,000 students during the next 10 years, as new houses and apartment buildings come to the area. The district has considered constructing five new schools to accommodate the new students. Jim Gibson, assistant superintendent of business services, will become superintendent as of July 1 when Beverly Silsbee retires. Meanwhile, Balfour and his wife, Laurie, are packing up and heading to a new house in Valencia. They’re eager to move in. “I cannot tell you how excited I am for all the great places to go out to dinner,” he said. “The whole area reminds me of a college town. It has that feel.” — Sue Doyle,(661) 257-5254 [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!