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The hero in the halls

Harrison Balfour ’24
Mr. Spryszak smiling for the picture.

When people talk to Joseph Spryszak, they can instantly tell he was a journalist; he spoke like a reporter. His years in education were instantly apparent. He had a welcoming and calming aspect that only comes from years of experience.

Before Spryszak came to South, he had extensive knowledge and experience in education. Throughout his 36 years of teaching, he has acquired more than enough experience to be an assistant principal here at South. Spryszak also taught English at Osborn High School, journalism at Western International High School and administered at Detroit Public Schools for three years.

“I was an assistant principal at Western High School,” Spryszak said. “Then (I was) principal at Southfield Lathrup High School for eight years before my school closed.”

After having the opportunity to lead a school, Spryszak said he felt it was time for him to play a supporting role.

“I chose South because I wanted to work at a school with amazing students who perform academically,” Spryszak said. “I knew this was an amazing school.”

After experiencing and being an educator at various schools, Spryszak said he chose South specifically because of the students and their performance.

“I looked at the AP scores, the PSAT results and the standings nationwide,” Spryszak said “I knew this was an amazing school that I wanted to experience.”

Spryszak said he was not disappointed. Everyday, he works towards making South a more pleasant school for students and teachers.

“We have fantastic students and parents who achieve greatly,” Spryszak said. “But sometimes that relationship element isn’t there and that’s what I always hope to bring.”

Spryszak added how his educational style revolves around making connections. He bonds with staff, making the educational machine run smoothly daily. Through connecting with students, he said he tries to make a thicker bond that hopefully pushes the student to reach their maximum potential.

“Relationships are the most important thing because a student may not remember what you taught them, but they will always care about how you made them feel,” Spryszak said.

Student discipline is a big part of Spryszak’s job as an assistant principal. He made it clear that his goal is to lower the amount of suspensions and favor detentions and Saturday school over sending students home.

“I’m proud of the P.B.I.S. results we’ve had, working with students to limit the number of suspensions,” Spryszak said.

Spryszak said his focus on intervention can make his relationships with parents and students rocky, making his job challenging.

“A big part of my job is to work with students and parents to get them to understand why we make the decisions we make,” Spryszak said. “We make sure they understand it’s nothing personal if there is a suspension or consequence.”

While he is firm on the consequences for breaking school rules, Spryszak said he focuses on getting the student back in the educational environment with less of an emphasis on punishment.

“(South administration and I) make sure everyone knows that we’re going to work to bring you back so that there aren’t any lingering issues,” Spryszak said.

Spryszak works very closely with his fellow Assistant Principal, Cindy Parravano. They both started at South at the same time, instantly bonding them together.In her description of Spryszak, Parravano only had good things to say.

“(Spryszak’s) personality offsets mine; this makes us a great team” Parravano said. “I’m going to miss him.”

Christopher Yonkus ’24 said he is also going to miss Spryszak greatly when he retires.

“(Spryszak) has been my favorite administrator at South,” Yonkus said.”I’m really going to miss seeing him in the halls when he leaves.”

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About the Contributor
Harrison Balfour ’24
Harrison Balfour ’24, Supervising Photographer
If you happen to see Harrison outside of school, chances are he either has a skateboard beneath him or a camera in hand—possibly even both. As Supervising Photographer for the Tower this year, Balfour has a knack for finding and capturing the beautiful moments of everyday life, one that he hopes will someday land him a job with a newspaper publication. For now though, Tower is enough for Balfour, who sees it as an opportunity to tell unique stories and talk to people who have something to say.“I was always drawn to (Journalism),” Balfour said. “I like telling stories and talking to people-- I feel like I just like people.”When it comes to his journalistic work, however, nothing inspires Balfour more than photography.“I like taking photos (and) capturing a beautiful moment that can never happen again,” Balfour said. “It’s a one-time thing that only I saw and captured.”

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