Helstad Receives Fellowship

The old adage, “third time’s the charm,” rings true for Jennifer Helstad. After applying three times, Helstad was named a James Madison Fellow through the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia. This fellowship grants Helstad (MBU ’04 BS Broad Field Social Studies and History Education) up to $24,000 for her pursuit of a master’s degree in history.

“I love working with young people,” Helstad says. “I love reading, learning, and history. So, being a high school history teacher is the perfect fit for me! I hope to inspire other students to appreciate history, especially American history, so they appreciate the privilege of growing up in this great nation and the responsibility of preserving our freedoms for future generations.”

Helstad has been teaching for 16 years. In her first several years of teaching, Helstad had the opportunity to mentor several Maranatha student teachers. Dr. William Licht, Vice President for Academic Affairs, says, “Jennifer was an excellent cooperating teacher in a local school district, mentoring MBU student teachers in a constructive way, so I was excited to hear Jennifer was accepted into this prestigious graduate program. It will be a tremendous professional  benefit to her.”

Helstad has pursued her Master of Arts in American History and Government through Ashland University since 2015 and plans to finish her degree at the end of next summer. Per the fellowship guidelines, once she has completed her master’s, Helstad is required to teach American history, government, or civics in a secondary school for one year for each academic year she is supported by the fellowship.

“I chose [the Master of Arts program] because I wanted to have a master’s in my content area, not merely a broad education masters,” Helstad says. “​Since I love to read and learn, I wanted to improve my content knowledge. I teach high schoolers, so their ability to go deeper in content challenges me to know more [and] to be a better teacher.”

Not only is Helstad passionate about sharing America’s great history with her students, but she is also passionate about sharing her Savior. “Being a Christian history teacher in a public school allows me to be a testimony for Christ among so many unsaved students and staff. I have had many opportunities to share my faith throughout my 16 years of teaching. We need more Christian teachers in public schools to be a light in this dark world.”