Mesquite’s secondary 2020 Teacher of the Year: Making an impact at home

Earlier this year Mesquite ISD named its 2020 teachers of the year. This year’s Secondary Teach of the Year was Ty Belt, a teacher and coach at Poteet High School.

Belt is a graduate of Mesquite High School and Oklahoma Christian University, where he realized he felt called to educate young people. He began his educational career with MISD at Poteet, teaching social studies and coaching boys JV basketball.

How does it feel to represent Mesquite ISD?

It's a huge honor, and I'm going to do what I've always done and that's ask what everybody else what I should do. The only reason why I have any idea what to do every day is because of mentors; people who have helped me learn.

Why did you decide to go into education?

I loved school, and high school was a really great experience for me. I know I love people, so when I was in school I ran through my brain the different career paths I could take where I would get to interact with people the most, and education is definitely one of those fields. I also knew I wanted to be in some sort of ministry so this is a ministry for me, in getting to reach out to so many kids every day, and staff as well. You get to deal with so many people every day and that's a huge blessing.

When you got into education, which route did you initially want to go into - coaching or teaching?

Both. When I was applying for jobs I'd always heard that it was going to be hard to find a history job without coaching attached so it just kind of worked out that I wanted to coach, and it was a huge blessing and answer to my prayer that I found an opportunity here. I've loved both fields - coaching and teaching. 

Why did you choose to work with high school students?

High school was my favorite phase (growing up) so that was definitely part of it. Also, when I was in college I had an opportunity to go to a bunch of different summer camps and recruit for my college. Doing this, there were times where I loved working with those kids and there were times where I wanted to leave, so I was like, I think I can do this because the mountain tops were always more than the valleys whenever I was with those kids and I love that time.

I would've been fine with middle school or wherever the Lord decided to put me, but it's worked out really good; I love working with these kids. Having conversations with them about life and trying to point them into the right direction; I like having those kinds of conversations.

As an educator, what's the most rewarding aspect for you?

I think it's whenever kids realize how important their education is to them. That's one of the challenges; you don't really want to teach a kid how important their education is but kind of guide them to be able to comprehend the opportunity that they've been given by being able to get an education. 

A huge goal for me every day is to see which of these kids I can get to understand that this is part of their future. 

What are some challenges you face as an educator?

For me it's negativity in general. It's really easy when you get into the grind of the school year to point the finger, blame, get really negative, complain and things like that. Every job has things that are difficult, so if you only focus on the things that are hard you can get overwhelmed and it bleeds over into your classroom and you're upset all the time. I've been in those moments before so sometimes it takes you sitting down and focusing on the things that are positive (and) the kids that you get through to every day. You're not going to get through to every kid every single day; it's impossible to do that because kids come with some many different stories.

Just trying to focus on the good things, and when you go home, you're thinking about those good things and you're trying to multiply the good things. The negative things, if I can't fix it I let it go, if I can fix it I address it.

Did you have teachers growing up who made a lasting impact on you?

I grew up in Mesquite ISD so the list is long of teachers that have helped me, but all four years of high school, my English teachers really helped me and my future educational career. There's never been a time, whether I was in college or something that I was doing here, where I felt intimidated by some kind of writing and I felt like it was all due to them. 

How does it feel to return to MISD as a teacher?

It brings me great pride to come back. That was one of the first things I did whenever I graduated was I looked here (for jobs). I made so many friends in Oklahoma that I just kind of wanted to stay there, but I got to thinking that it would be great to come back home and teach here.

What's one thing you hope your students get from their time with you?

I want them to succeed with humility, and in my room we compete all the time, but when they win I want them to win the right way and win with humility. Humility is a dying trait; a lot of these kids don't know what it is to be humble. 

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