Pella Teacher Awarded Honor of ‘History Teacher of the Year’ in Iowa

PELLA, Iowa – A fifth grade teacher has been awarded “History Teacher of the Year” in Pella.

Rebecca Helland was up against teachers from all grades across Iowa for the award.

One of Helland’s co-workers from Jefferson Intermediate School nominated Helland for the award.

After a few application rounds, Glider Lehrm Institute of American History named Helland the winner.

Former student Jackson Van Klay said she made learning history fun and easy.

“She just was a great teacher. She explained things really well. If we didn’t understand something, she stopped and explained it,” Van Klay said.

Helland uses different methods like plays and song writing to help her students understand various time periods throughout history.

“History is about stories and it is about taking a look at perspectives, and about seeing what people have done, and then asking yourself if you would have been in their position would you have done the same thing. Or would you handle it differently, and why? When you can get in to the nuts and bolts of the story and go deeper in to it and actually get the perspective of the people that were there, and understanding from what they experienced, then it is much more meaningful,” Helland said.

During class, Helland gets the kids motivated and involved. She uses teaching methods like “popcorn” and songs to get all students to participate in the topic that is being discussed.

Helland said she uses the events that led to the American Revolution to help students understand conflict.

“We all experience conflict in different places, and students can take what they see in history and analysis and apply it to their own world,” Helland said.

Former student Gigi Perrault said Helland deserves the honor of being awarded teacher history of the year.

“She just let us understand everything we were learning about. She explained everything in a really fun way, and I really enjoyed that,” Perrault said.

Helland was notified of the award back in June, and received $1,000 prize from the institute.

Helland has been teaching the last 15 years.