Helen J. Hughes-Balilo
Wetzel Elementary School
U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity
Baumholder, Germany

“In a highly deployable community, establishing the school as the community center has been essential to our students’ success,” says Helen Hughes-Balilo. “The school is viewed as the one constant for our families as their soldiers deploy to Iraq and reintegrate with their families.” Hughes-Balilo has formed strong relationships with parents in her military school community. She encourages parents to become active in leadership roles within the school and true partners with the school in educating their children. The parent center she established enables parents with younger children to serve as school volunteers as well as receive parenting training and support. Hughes-Balilo was appointed principal of Wetzel Elementary School in 2005. Based in a small town, the school serves 365 students in preschool through grade 6. Hughes-Balilo has raised student achievement at the school by setting high expectations and providing the resources and support to achieve the school’s ambitious goals. She has cultivated a professional learning community among teachers in which they share best practices with each other and participate in ongoing opportunities for professional growth. This environment has resulted in a highly motivated workforce and significant increases in student achievement, she says. She previously served as assistant principal at another school based in Germany. She received her B.A. from Glenville State College in West Virginia and her M.S. from Troy State University in Alabama.