March 16, 2019

From left, Raytown School District Teacher of the Year Dennis Helsel, Blue Ridge Elementary Principal Danielle Miles, and Raytown School District Superintendent Dr. Allan Markley

Dennis Helsel, Blue Ridge Elementary art teacher, has been named the Raytown School District Teacher of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year. Helsel, is a 14 year educator with degrees from the University of Central Missouri (UCM) and the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

In a reference letter for Helsel a colleague said, “Mr. Helsel is someone who desires to make everything and anything beautiful and positive.”

In her letter of support, Blue Ridge Elementary Principal Danielle Miles said, “In the most difficult situations, our art teacher Mr. Dennis Helsel collects the emotions and thoughts in the room and transforms them into profound thoughts of inspiration and hope.”

The judges described Helsel as passionate, intuitive, and dedicated to their school community. They were impressed by his life-long commitment to teaching and his effort to be a light to those around them.

Helsel shared “the greatest joy of teaching art is being able to provide kids with a way of thinking about the world which allows them to see with the eyes of a wide awake dreamer.” Helsel cares “just as much about the feelings of learning as he does about the knowledge of learning,” and believes that “ultimately, how you pursue your education and live your life will always be the greatest work of art that you will ever make.”

Building Teacher of the Year nominations for 2019-2020 include: Ashley Hawkins, Eastwood Hills Elementary; Kelly Anderson, Fleetridge Elementary; Krischawna Robinson, Laurel Hills Elementary; Rachel Barzee, Little Blue Elementary; Mary Rigan, New Trails Early Learning Center; Linda Sistek, Norfleet Elementary; Denise Barnes, Northwood School; Megan Fisher, Robinson; Brandi Stringer, Southwood Elementary; Kathy True, Spring Valley Elementary; Jennifer Blank, Westridge Elementary; Robert Johnson, Raytown Middle School; Michelle Rose, Raytown Central Middle School; Rita Fabin, Raytown South Middle School; Kathleen Kolster, Raytown High School; Venus Webster, Raytown South High School; and Ann Hudgens, Three Trails Preschool.

Helsel will represent the District in the Regional Teacher of the Year selection process and will deliver a speech at the District’s annual back to school Convocation in August.