Since joining the Shorecrest community in 1994, Tracie Belt has held teaching positions in both the Lower and Middle Schools. Now the Director of The Learning Center at Shorecrest
, Tracie leads the school’s efforts to provide support to students, parents, and teachers to optimize learning and student achievement.
For many of our beloved faculty members, their impact and ability to engage, inspire and lead is a testament to their care for their students and their dedication to their profession.
We asked Tracie to tell us a little about herself and her time thus far at Shorecrest.
What drew you to a career in education? Please also share how you came to work at Shorecrest, what positions you held while here, and the year you started.
A career in education was not something I chose, honestly the career chose me. Working with children has always come naturally to me, but what drew me into teaching is the love of watching children discover how powerful they are as learners. Providing children with the opportunity to play, explore, discover and create on their own brings me great joy as a teacher.
Working at Shorecrest was by chance when I relocated to Saint Petersburg, Florida from Daegu, Korea. My husband and I bought a home in Venetian Isles and my new neighbors (who became dear friends), Mark and Sue Sibley, knocked on my door to welcome us to the neighborhood. During that conversation, we found out we both had children of the same age. The Sibley's encouraged me to enroll my daughter, Casey '02, in Shorecrest and apply for a teaching position. Having been a public school teacher for many years I hadn’t considered private school as an option. However, after interviewing with Mary Booker and hearing about the innovative curriculum at Shorecrest, I knew I wanted to be part of Shorecrest as a parent and a teacher.
My first job at Shorecrest was in 1996, as a fourth-grade teacher. Teaching fourth grade was an awesome experience. Fourth grade is a fun grade to teach because the children are passionate about learning anything and everything. The children I met when teaching fourth grade were all very bright, creative and ready to learn. Fond memories of exploring caves, hunting fossils, invention convention, Native American history unit, reading the book "Roxaboxen
" and then having the children create their own outdoor make-believe space called "Roxaboxen" are some of my more memorable experiences from teaching fourth grade.
After teaching fourth grade for 9 years, I moved up to the Middle School where I worked as a sixth grade math teacher for two years, and as the seventh grade life science teacher for 9 years. The Shorecrest Middle school is a wonderful place to teach and I enjoyed every second of teaching middle school students about science and math. There are so many favorite memories but some of my favorites would be going on a whale watch with the seventh grade class, Science Camp in the Keys, and the seventh grade Coffee Shop which the students put on for parents to highlight their science and history projects related to the study of the book "Fever 1793," based on the Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793.
In 2015, an opportunity to become the Director of The Learning Center was presented to me and I decided to take on a new challenge. As the Director of the Learning Center, I work with students, parents, and teachers in all divisions. The mission of the Learning Center is to provide support to students, parents, and teachers to optimize learning by providing any study strategies, or research and support that will make learning easier and more productive.
What is the biggest takeaway from your time at Shorecrest?
The biggest takeaway from my time at Shorecrest is that students, teachers, and administrators should always start any project, lesson, or initiative with the question, "Why?" If you know why you are learning a concept or why something matters to you personally, then you will always find learning worth the effort and time.
Any advice you would share with future graduating classes?
Yes, Always stay green. If you are green there is always room to grow, if you are ripe all you can do is rot.
I would also add that I would love to hear from any students who want to share what they are doing now that they have graduated, etc. Thinking about former students is something I do often so It would be wonderful to hear what these creative, intelligent and hard-working young adults are up to and how they are changing the world. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!