Stephen Helwig Joins Teaching Staff at Sandy High
By Ty Tilden
Stephen Helwig’s journey to Oregon took several unexpected turns before he found his true calling in the classroom at Sandy High School. A decade ago, the Arizona native set foot in Oregon, he and his wife seeking a change of pace after residing in the same small town for years.
After moving to Portland and weathering a job loss right before the pandemic hit, Stephen found himself reevaluating his life’s direction, especially as he welcomed his first child in 2020. This significant moment prompted a pivotal decision: to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a history teacher. In 2022, he graduated with a Bachelors in History from Eastern Oregon University, swiftly advancing to earn a Masters of Arts in Teaching the following year.
His motivation to teach wasn’t a sudden choice but a long-standing aspiration, rooted in his passion for history and the joy of imparting knowledge. “When I graduated high school, I wanted to be a history teacher. I took a couple different detours in my life with every job I had; my favorite part of those jobs was training or teaching or passing on information,” he said.
Helwig found his way to Sandy through a stroke of serendipity; he student-taught at David Douglas, where he formed connections that recommended him to SHS principal Sarah Dorn. The alignment of timing and fit with the school led him to this picturesque town. “I was lucky enough to find a place that I really wanted to explore. We’ve always lived on the eastside of Portland and [the Mount Hood area] has lovely outdoors and camping and fishing and obviously you go through Sandy so often to get up to Hood. So having an opportunity to come here and experience Sandy life and contribute to the community is something I’m really excited about,” he said.
As he settled into his role at Sandy, Stephen discovered a deep satisfaction in working with the students. It wasn’t until he began teaching that he realized the true extent of his enjoyment in mentoring and observing student growth and development. He particularly values the relationships he builds with his students. “I’m a firm believer that you don’t actually know whether or not you’re going to like something until you do it. I thought I enjoyed working with kids but I wasn’t sure until I started student teaching and it’s the same here. I just really like working with kids and seeing them grow. The kids in all my classes are super awesome,” Helwig said.
But Helwig’s commitment doesn’t stop at the classroom door. Eager to revolutionize his role in education, he’s pursuing a second master’s degree, this one in history. His goal is to teach dual enrollment courses, believing them to be a more fair and accurate measure of academic prowess than the AP system that offers college credits reliant on a single test.
In his own words, Helwig sees himself as a fairly ordinary individual, now engrossed in parenting his two children and deeply committed to furthering his career in education. His ardor for empowering students through a progressive approach to academic recognition is a testament to his dedication to making an impact in the classroom and the community.
Stephen Helwig may describe himself as “boring,” but his transformative journey from a sudden job loss to a passionate educator underscores the fervor with which he has ingrained himself in his career and his teaching style. SHS is fortunate to have him.