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Arkansas State University

Kevin Belt at A-State

A-State Ed.S. Principalship graduate Kevin Belt

As a company commander in the National Guard, Kevin Belt takes the leadership element of his teaching job very seriously. With this in mind, he pursued the online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, Principalship program at Arkansas State University, which he completed in August of 2020.

Belt is in his first year teaching chemistry and physical science at Little Rock Central High School, but he has been active in the classroom for 17 years.

“I’ve always taught at smaller schools; this is my first large district. Up until this year, I was the high school science department,” he said. “I taught everything from physical science and chemistry to biology, environmental science, AP biology and physics.”

Kevin Belt was attracted to biology growing up in rural Arkansas and spending a lot of time outdoors. Environmental sciences acted as an extension of that interest, which allowed him to bring multiple disciplines to bear.

“I enjoy environmental sciences because there are so many different dimensions, from economics and psychology to law, philosophy and technology,” he added.

His undergraduate degree is in biology with an education specialization from Henderson State University. He followed up with a Master of Science in environmental science from Oklahoma State University. Belt was the first in his family to earn a degree; they have all been proud and supportive of the work he has put in. Like his nephew, who recently finished a master’s degree program, others have since followed in his academic footsteps.

Making an Impact

Belt started his teaching career in his 30s after getting certified in his 20s. He quickly fell in love with the field. He sees his role as the opportunity to make a positive change for students on the cusp of adulthood. 

“I enjoy working with kids,” Belt said. “And [teachers] play a really important role in trying to get them on the right track for life. I want to better position myself with credentials and knowledge and skills to work at that interface to better the experience for students.”

The curriculum classes, like ELCI 7063: Curriculum Management, were his favorite, giving him a better sense of why educators teach certain subjects. The course developed in him a further appreciation of how students learn, giving him insight into how to diversify his pedagogy.

“Looking at that research gave me an opportunity to really think about the things that I do: the assumptions I make and the methods I use in my classroom and the science and theory behind all of that,” he said.

Tools for Transformation

A-State’s online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership program appealed to Belt because it has a classroom focus, giving him a more comprehensive array of tools to use as an instructional facilitator. He wants to remain engaged in that special relationship between teachers and students. 

A-State’s online graduate programs attracted him because of convenience and cost, as well as their sterling reputation. Also, the 7-week course structure worked well with his hectic schedule.

“The way A-State structures the program is very conducive to the schedule of the teacher,” he added. 

Between work and his obligations to his company and his family — including his three sons Cannon, Cayden and Brycen — he stays busy. The degree program allowed him to keep up with everything, including his kids’ activities. 

“My family’s really into outdoors and my sons do martial arts and soccer,” Belt said. “So, most nights of the week, I go home and we grab our boys and go to either taekwondo or soccer or both on some nights.”

A Born Leader

Belt has spent the past 31 years in the National Guard, where he leads a company of soldiers. Despite having to step away from the program for overseas deployments, Belt maintained his momentum and eventually began working toward the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership a few months after completing the specialization program.

“I’m getting a lot out of it personally and professionally, as far as developing my leadership skills,” he elaborated. “I’m in charge of a group of soldiers and ensuring their welfare and the execution of the mission. The army will give you opportunities to grow and pay you well for it and you can’t find these types of experiences any other place.”

His military experience helped him develop those leadership abilities and learn to adjust on the fly, as all educators have had to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. These adaptations have included teaching to students in the classroom while others learn remotely, forcing him to dramatically modify how he teaches by utilizing technology to get students the information they need.

Having successfully completed the online Ed.S. program, Belt would advise prospective students to grow themselves professionally with this valuable postgraduate work.

“Jump into it!” he said. “You’re not going to find a more affordable program of such quality that’s as user-friendly.”

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, Principalship program

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