BAUMHOLDER, Germany -- Helen Hughes-Balilo, principal of Wetzel Elementary School in Baumholder, was selected as the Department of Defense Education Activity's nominee for the National Association of Elementary School Principals' 2010 National Distinguished Principals of the Year for Elementary and Middle Level through the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Hughes-Balilo will be honored as the 2010 DoDEA National Distinguished Principal Oct. 14-15 in Washington, D.C.
"Under Helen's excellent leadership as principal of Wetzel Elementary School during the past five years, a complete transformation has occurred that has been keenly focused on student achievement," said Lawanna H. Mangelburg, former Kaiserslautern District superintendent. "Helen is committed to success for all students, and she places the highest priority on exemplary instructional interventions that are based on individual student academic needs."
Hughes-Balilo has been the principal of Wetzel Elementary since 2005. She served as the assistant principal of Smith Elementary School in Baumholder before her time at Wetzel Elementary. She also served as a teacher in schools in Okinawa and Iwakuni, Japan.
She began her career with DoDEA in 1989 at V.I.Grissom Elementary School at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.

The National Distinguished Principals Program was established in 1984 as an annual event to honor exemplary elementary and middle school principals who set the pace, character and quality of the education children receive during their early school years.

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, in corporate partnership with the Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company.

NAESP highlights the fundamental importance of school principals in achieving educational excellence for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students. The national recognition afforded by the National Distinguished Principal designation instills pride in principals' accomplishments and reinforces their continued leadership in helping students develop a lifelong love of learning.

Hughes-Balilo earned her bachelor's degree from Glenville State College in Glenville, W. Va., and her master of science degree in education from Troy State University in Troy, Ala., in 1996.

"Helen Hughes-Balilo exemplifies the term 'exceptional educational leader,'" said Dorothy Meckes, a first-grade teacher at Wetzel Elementary school. "She energizes, engages and encourages the stakeholder in the Wetzel community to excel and work together. She creates an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect throughout the school and community."

DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates and manages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs for Department of Defense dependents who would otherwise not have access to a high-quality, public education.

DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, the United States, Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico. DoDEA also provides support and resources to local education activities throughout the United States that serve children of military families.