Marty Belcher, middle school teacher, retires after 44 years of teaching

Marty was one of Harmony’s first teachers. He began teaching at Harmony in 1977 as a 5th and 6th grade language arts teacher. He made the transition to middle school ten years later, where he continued to focus on language arts and social studies. Marty coordinated Harmony’s yearbook every year, and says, “publishing student work has been a fundamental part of my curriculum.”

What’s been keeping Marty busy this fall now that he’s retired? Well, the middle school welcomed Marty back the other week as a guest teacher to teach about current events. He continues to play music. Alongside his teaching career, he has been playing music for 55 years, though he says the two worlds rarely mixed. Here’s a recent photo from recording a music video at Lake Monroe. Other projects he’s working on right now include an article for the Wire Magazine on improvisation, and a brochure for the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center (TMBCC). He is also teaching English to a Tibetan monk at the TMBCC.

Last year, as Marty prepared to say goodbye to Harmony, he wrote down some reflections:

12 Things I’ve Learned Over 44 Years of Teaching…

1. Being more knowledgeable than my students didn’t make teaching any easier. This was a naïve concept I carried with me out of Ed. School.

2. The Computer was a game changer. The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature was great, but doesn’t hold a candle to Google. A friend mentioned that kids don’t need to actually learn facts anymore, just where to find them — I wouldn’t go that far, but I see his point.

3. Global warming changes everything. Just think what would have happened if Florida deemed Al Gore the winner over George Bush in the 2000 election. Looking back, that bit of Republican shenanigans may prove to be the proverbial fork in the road.

4. Kids, however, haven’t changed much over the years. The same things that “made them tick” 40 years ago still “makes them tick “ today.

5. 9-11 was a very bad day with far-reaching consequences that will continue to haunt us going forward. We teachers knew it at the time and felt an obligation to put things into perspective but not to be alarmist (due to the fact that the kids were genuinely alarmed).

6. The day after Trump was elected was also a tough day for my students — Many were in tears.

7. The little-heralded personal pronoun has grown in importance. The binary gender specification doesn’t apply to many students these days.

8. Recurring question: Do video games actually affect attention spans? — I doubt it.

9. Inside information: A successful teacher can juggle 5 things at once.

10. Looking back, schools have become more dangerous places over the years, and teachers are working under deteriorating conditions.

11. Observation: With young people, tobacco products don’t disappear for long,

12. And, by all means, teachers should always model the behaviors they want to see in their students — respect, tolerance, empathy, honesty, reliability, effort, flexibility, humor, and striving to make life better for others.

– Marty

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February 2024

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