Thursday, May 10, 2007
Belk runner-up for MPSA teacher of year
By SUE WATSON
Marshall Academy’s Linda Belk took second place in this year’s teacher of the year recognition handed out by the Mississippi Private School Association.
Headmaster Jane Hubbard said the 32-year veteran is a “teacher every principal wants in their school.”
“She’s an encourager and a motivator,” Hubbard said. “She’s such a pleasure to work with and so positive with her students. She’s more than just a teacher. Students just love her.”
Belk taught five years in the Holly Springs School District before moving to Marshall Academy. She’s certified to teach elementary through junior high and today teaches fifth and sixth grade math.
“I was surprised at my nomination,” Belk said. “I had to write an essay and a student wrote an essay saying ‘if you can get through Mrs. Belk’s class, you can make it anywhere.’ ”
Belk is a teacher who has high expectations of herself and her students.
“They dread it before they have me, they have me, and I think they realize I’m not the bear they thought I was.”
It’s the kids that turn a teacher on, she said.
“I’m close to retiring,” Belk continued. “Sometimes teaching makes you want to pull your hair out and it’s fun to see them mature through the year.”
It is often in the middle grades that students become motivated by the subject matter, itself, she said, and prepare for junior high where subjects become even more challenging. But in middle school is where students usually choose a favorite subject, be it science, math or history.
Belk attended Mississippi State College for Women one year and transferred to Ole Miss to complete a bachelor’s of arts education. She was a stay-at-home mom until all her four children were school age, and then went back to the classroom.
“I had four children spread out, age-wise, so it took a while before I was ready to go back,” she said.
The early years of teaching were a learning time for Belk, who said she had so much to learn about children and how to manage the classroom.
“I know there are plenty of good teachers who don’t have children, but I think it helps,” she said.
Belk said sometimes her husband, attorney Fred Belk Jr., acts as a sounding board for her in situations involving teaching. But he couldn’t discuss his work much because of the confidential nature of his job.
A growing faith also was at work.
“My faith has grown so – that’s a big part of helping me know what to expect with children and to understand them better,” she said. “I try to teach them more. I tell them there’s a whole lot of life after school. You’ve got to learn when you are young how to deal with people.
“I tell my kids they are going to have mates, they are going to have a boss. There’s so many things, if you don’t learn these lessons as you go along, you’ve got a difficult time ahead of you.”
Belk said she plans to teach at least one more year and will have her oldest grandchild in class next year.
The MPSA is composed of about 122 schools and more than 40,000 teachers, according to Hubbard.
The Belks are parents to four, Tish Summerlin, Fred III, Fielding, and Jonathan, and grandparents to four children. The sons live in the Collierville, Olive Branch and and Memphis area and Summerlin lives in Holly Springs.
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