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For Helmers, a short tenure, lasting legacy

He was superintendent for only three years.

Posted: May 5, 2008 2:10 a.m.
Updated: July 6, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Editor's note: Over the next several weeks, The Signal is giving you a closer look at local schools named for individuals.

When James Foster retired in 1985, he handed over the helm of the Saugus Union School District to another superintendent who would leave his own legacy.

Charles Helmers started his career as a teacher in the district in 1972 and, while his time as superintendent was cut short due to illness, he left a lasting impression as an educator.

A native of Illinois, Helmers had been a General Motors Scholar at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he received his bachelor's degree in philosophy. He moved to California in 1969, continued his education, and eventually obtained his doctorate degree in education at Pepperdine University.

After teaching for a few years in the Saugus district, Helmers served as principal of Skyblue Mesa Elementary in Canyon Country, and in 1981 was appointed director of administrative services, managing business services as well as curriculum and instruction for the district.

In the fall of 1988, after just three years as superintendent, Helmers took a medical leave from the district when he was diagnosed with cancer. At the same time, the district was preparing to break ground on a 4.4-acre school site being developed by Newhall Land's Valencia Company and located in the Northbridge tract north of Newhall Ranch Road.

In a Signal article published November 30, 1988, staff writer Jennifer Pearson wrote, "Saugus Union School District officials say it has not been their policy to name a new school after one of their own, but they feel Helmers, 41, is an exceptional person."

Helmers was moved to tears during the groundbreaking ceremony for Charles Helmers Elementary School, and spoke briefly about his love for children and education. He lost his bout with lung cancer on March 2, 1989.


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