The Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals has named Burnsville High School Principal Dave Helke its Hennepin Division High School Principal of the Year. The award recognizes school leaders who use research and innovative practices to improve their schools.
Helke has led Burnsville High School through major transformations as part of Vision One91, which is Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191’s work to redesign the district to meet the needs of today’s learners. In the last year, the school shifted to include 9th graders for the first time, added more than 145,000 square feet of instructional spaces, launched a one-to-one student learning device model, and altered programming to better meet student needs.
Along with teachers and fellow administrators, Helke has helped develop Burnsville High School’s new “Pathways” model. By presenting courses of study in a way that focuses on student being #FutureReady, Pathways at BHS help students discover and pursue their passions through relevant, experiential learning opportunities in areas as diverse as marketing, culinary arts, healthcare, engineering design and much more. Students are no longer just finding credits to make it to graduation. They are getting to graduation with a plan for their futures.
In nominating Helke, Nicollet Middle School Principal Renee Brandner cited “his instructional vision for a 21st Century school, his ability to lead change, his communication skills, and the way he models how we should work with students.”
Brandner also noted that Helke maintains strong relationships with students.
“He is a champion for kids,” she wrote. “He usually has a handful of students he is working to support and inspire, and his staff takes notice. The teacher in Dave still shines through.”
Helke joined District 191 in 2001 as the principal at Eagle Ridge Junior High. He was named principal of Burnsville High School in 2008.
The Hennepin Division includes all the high schools in Hennepin and Scott counties, as well as parts of Anoka and Dakota counties. Helke is now eligible for the MASSP statewide Principal of the Year Award, which is determined at the end of the calendar year.