Linda Balfour

Linda A. Balfour

H. Olive Day School
Norfolk Public Schools
Norfolk, Massachusetts

Linda Balfour began her career over 40 years ago as a second-grade teacher before becoming a special education/learning disabilities teacher. Her longstanding commitment to inclusion and accommodation is reflected in her 26 years of leadership as principal of the H. Olive Day School. Balfour strongly believes that children need to feel loved, supported, safe, and competent in order to thrive as students and human beings. When she first became principal, the school was one of the first in the area to adopt a social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum when they implemented the Open Circle Social Competency Program to make sure these needs were met. This program, which teaches students problem-solving, emotional regulation, and peer negotiation strategies while nurturing empathy and understanding, has helped make H. Olive Day School a pioneer in the area of SEL and establish a learning culture that is referred to as “the HOD school family.” As a special education resource teacher, Balfour helped create a series of lessons for third-graders called “Understanding Disabilities” so students without disabilities could learn about the challenges and experiences of their peers with disabilities. As principal, she has encouraged the development of “ClubGLO—Great Learning Opportunities,” a series of activity clubs focused on letting students explore their interests while fostering an environment where students with learning and social or emotional challenges can feel comfortable and competent and shine with peers. Balfour has fostered an environment of continual learning for teachers, with a customized peer classroom observation program and training in advanced student achievement data assessment, analysis, and curriculum integration. Balfour holds an M.Ed. in Special Education and Learning Disabilities from Bridgewater State University and a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Special Education from Boston College.