Women in Education: Granite Mountain Assistant Principal Nancy Hellewell Calls Prescott ‘Heaven on Earth’

By Tara Fort

The job of an Assistant Principal is anything but easy, with challenges that include overseeing staff, ensuring standards for curriculum and discipline, addressing disciplinary concerns, and communicating with parents and teachers to discuss ongoing issues.  But three-year veteran of the Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) and current Granite Mountain School Assistant Principal Nancy Hellewell has adapted well. Hellewell subscribes to the mantra:  “Do something you love and you will never work a day in your life.”

Like many of her peers, Hellewell is grateful for Superintendent Joe Howard, the leader behind the district’s stellar team. States Hellewell, “I have worked under many sets of district leaders and none have been as proactive, innovative, creative and caring as Joe Howard. Many say, ‘The needs of the kids come first,’ but Joe means it with every fiber of his being. His leadership is the reason I will never leave.” Howard himself is as dedicated to his staff as they are to him. He states, “Nancy is a key player on our District Leadership Team.  She is professional and experienced in helping students learn all that they can, and she has brought many great ideas to PUSD.  She has a calm cool delivery, and her ability to build relationships with students, parents and co-workers is a true gift.”

Everyone in the district was put the test a few year ago, when the 5th and 6th grades were combined into one school.  Hellewell recalls, “Our restructuring was a perfect example of how everyone worked together to overcome those challenges. PUSD employees at every level were invited and encouraged to be a part of the planning teams; parents and other community members were asked to give their input to how PUSD should look moving forward. As a result, we have an amazing district that provides more for kids than some of the wealthiest districts I’ve seen.  Let’s face it: Orchestra for 5th grade is pretty incredible!”

Hellewell says there are too many instances to count that make her feel special in her role as Assistant Principal, but she does recall one specific event where two students were having a conflict that began to escalate during recess.  After some investigation, Nancy asked both students to meet with her and asked them to share the facts of what they perceived and how the interaction made them feel. “Both boys were visibly aware of how their personal choices had made the other student feel. By the time we finished, one boy asked the other to sit with him in the comfortable, overstuffed rocking chair, and they began talking about sharing phone numbers and playing outside of school. That was special because they left as friends, rather than enemies.”  Those touching stories and rewarding events are what keep Hellewell coming back for more. “I enjoy offering support to help those students be more successful in areas where they may be struggling.”

A native Texan with a passion for their new-found Arizona digs, Hellewell and her husband spend as much time as possible outside of work—both work very long hours, Hellewell in the district and her husband in the construction industry. They love to explore Arizona, and often visit their two sons who live out of state.  Hellewell recalls invitations to return to Texas for work, but remains true to her new home, “I may not be a native Prescottonian, but I came here as fast as I could! I truly believe PUSD is the most amazing place in the world, and I want to be a part of its future. I love the kids, the staff, the district leadership and Prescott.  I feel I’ve found my little piece of heaven on earth.”

For more information about Nancy Hellewell and the staff and events at Prescott Unified School District, visit http://www.prescottschools.com/

Author: PrescottWomanMagazine

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