Dr. Helen K. McCracken

Superintendent, Canon-McMillan School District; Instructor


Dr. McCracken is the superintendent of the Canon-McMillan School District, 20 miles south of Pittsburgh and one of the fastest-growing school districts in southwestern Pennsylvania. In reverse chronological order over the past 30 years, she has served as the assistant to the superintendent, director of curriculum and instruction, high school academic principal, Canonsburg Middle School principal, Wylandville Elementary School principal, high school reading specialist and elementary reading specialist.

She lives in Waynesburg, Pa., with her husband, Jeff, and their daughter, Elissa, who is a freshman in college.


  • Supervision
  • Research/Evaluation
  • Child Growth/Development
  • Finance
  • School Public Relations
  • Orientation to Administration
  • School/Community Relations
  • Curriculum Leadership
  • Administrative Theory
  • Organization and Operation
  • Research Field Project
  • Strategic Planning/Policy Analysis/Board Relations

Expertise and Publications

  • Textbook Reviewer: Sage Publications. Effective School Community Relationships in an Era of Accountability, 2008
  • Peer Reviewer: Quality Matters. Online Course Reviewer, 2007
  • Peer Reviewer: U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Grant Panel Member, 2007
  • Quality Matters Training: Inter-Institutional Quality Assurance in Online Learning, 2006
  • Peer Reviewer: U.S. DOE: Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Grant: Facilitator, 2006
  • Peer Reviewer: U.S. DOE: Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Grant: Facilitator, 2005
  • Peer Reviewer: Manuscript Reviewer: Pennsylvania Educational Leadership, journal of the Pennsylvania Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005-present
  • Online Instructor, PennWest California, 2003-present: Administrative Program for Principals; Superintendent Letter of Eligibility Program
  • eCollege Certified Online Instructor, 2002
  • Peer Reviewer: U.S. DOE: Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Grant: Panel Member, 2002
  • National Blue Ribbon Schools Site Visitor, 2002
  • Administrative Mentor: PennWest California, Duquesne University, Youngstown State University, 1996-2001


  • Distinguished Title I School: First Street Elementary, 2008
  • No Child Left Behind National Blue Ribbon Award Winner (only one of 13 in Pennsylvania; First Street Elementary School, Canonsburg, Pa.), 2007
  • Administrator Certificate of Recognition: Organization of American Kodaly Educators National Conference, 2006
  • Distinguished Title 1 School 2009 South Central Elementary
  • Distinguished Title I School 2009 First Street Elementary

Affiliated PennWest California Departments

  • Advisory Board member: School of Education, PennWest California, 2004-present
  • Advisory Board member: Career Services, PennWest California, 2002-present
  • Advisory Board member: Principal and Superintendent programs, PennWest California, 1998-present

Service-learning Projects

  • Presenter: Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (PASCD) State Conference, 2009
  • Judge: West Alexander County Fair Pageant, 2009
  • Statewide Conference Committee Member: PASCD, Hershey, Pa. , 2008-present
  • Presenter: PASCD State Conference, 2009
  • President: Waynesburg Central High School Band Boosters, 2006-2009
  • Presenter: Phi Delta Kappa National Conference: Chicago, Ill. Online Instruction: Collaboration Between the School District and the University, 2005
  • Presenter: PASCD Annual Conference; Secrets to WalkThrough Success, 2005
  • Advisory Board on Educational Issues; Representative Tim Murphy's Office, 2005-present
  • Presenter: PASCD Annual Conference; Standards-Based Classrooms: The Compass of Accountability, 2004
  • Presenter/Facilitator: South Hills Area School District Association; led three collaborative work sessions with superintendents and teachers' union presidents regarding the use of the new PDE teacher evaluation forms (426-427), 2002

In the Classroom

"My favorite and most beneficial teaching tools are the real-life experiences I present to my students in order to encourage higher-level problem-solving opportunities. My goal is to teach them to think like a principal or superintendent."

  • B.S.: Elementary Education, PennWest California
  • M.Ed.: Reading (Reading Specialist), PennWest California
  • M.S.: Business Administration, Robert Morris University
  • Elementary Principal Certification: PennWest California
  • Superintendent's Letter of Eligibility: PennWest California
  • Ed.D.: Educational Leadership; dissertation: "The Past as Prologue: A Search for Meaning and Character in Education Reform: A Study of the Superintendency;” University of Pittsburgh