Steadfast in his commitment to the teaching profession, Wade Helleson is an exemplar of educational excellence at Lowell Math, Science and Technology Elementary in Sioux Falls, SD. Helleson fearlessly took the reins when his school transitioned to a math, science and technology institution, which included a fair amount of first-year teachers and, for a period of time, no principal. This grace under pressure is but one of the hallmarks that has garnered praise from peers, parents, pupils and others.
Helleson is widely recognized for his role in developing the school’s visionary academic environment. The focus on inquiry-based learning and student involvement dovetails with Helleson’s teaching style, which emphasizes innovation, differentiated instruction and hands-on activity. Instrumental in integrating and supervising the use of technology across all subjects and grades—including SMART Boards and podcasts—Helleson uses rubrics and daily activities to assess and accelerate learning.
Credited with helping Lowell move up in district rankings—it made AYP for 2010— he is a member of the Urban Agriculture committee, Leadership Team and district science curriculum committee. Helleson also presented at the Educators Summer Symposium, he is a South Dakota Counts math coach, and he developed a districtwide “wiki” for K–12 students to share lessons and align standards. Besides designing the school website and individual classroom sites, Helleson organized the science fair and obtained a grant for the school’s indoor garden. One of district’s go-to people, he has proved to be an indispensable resource to students and staff alike.