Belcher's work with arts honored with Kids First citation

Apr. 26—Glen Belcher is the chief ambassador of community support for arts in the schools.

"I met Mr. Belcher when I was in college," recalled Cumberland County Director of Schools William Stepp. "He was going on strong, one of the most respected music educators we all knew."

Stepp, a former band director, holds Belcher in high regard.

"As soon as I got into the business, he was there helping me," he said. "He was always there, wherever we were, doing things, encouraging. What do you need? Where do you go? So he's been supporting people his whole career. It's amazing."

Stepp isn't alone in his admiration.

"The Cumberland County School District owes its current fine arts growth and successes to Mr. Glen Belcher's unwavering dedication," said Emily Kilby, Homestead Elementary music and band teacher. "Over the past eight years, he has selflessly taken on the role of an unofficial arts coordinator for Cumberland County Schools, investing his time, his talents and his personal funds to support the Cumberland County School District's fine arts, our students and our educators."

She was among the 26 Cumberland County educators who signed a letter nominating the Cumberland County Community Band member and founder of Support the Arts — known as STARTS — for the school district's Kids First award. She read that letter April 26 before Stepp presented Belcher with the honor during April's Board of Education meeting.

Kilby said Belcher has announced he is stepping down as executive director of STARTS, which evolved from one of Belcher's volunteering ventures when he helped Pleasant Hill Elementary reignite its band program eight years ago. It's a nonprofit extension of the Community Band program that's supported by arts patrons and the community at large to provide moral and financial support to the school district's arts programs.

Those supporters help make it possible to repair and round up instruments for elementary and high school band programs, secure copyright fees and scripts for performing arts productions, put supplies into the hands of art students, and assist those teachers with various needs in the classroom.

As a retired music educator himself, Belcher is intimately familiar with the challenges facing arts teachers. He has taken STARTS's purpose to area organizations has spoken to area organizations to let their members know the needs and secure funding to continue that work. And he has been there for the teachers themselves.

"Mr. Belcher has created personal relationships with each fine art educator in the Cumberland County school district and with members of the Cumberland County community," Kilby read from the letter. "The fine arts educators of Cumberland County School are forever grateful for Mr. Belcher's service."

Stepp presented Belcher with the Kids First Award for "exceptional selfless service to the kids of Cumberland County Schools."

He added, "Thank you for your continued support and love for our kiddos."

Teachers in addition to Kilby who signed the letter nominating Belcher for the honor were Aaron Marsee, Brown Elementary music/band; Andrew McDonald, Pine View Elementary music/band; Angela Robbins, Cumberland County High School theater; Blake Saldana, Stone Memorial High School chorus; Brandon Fletcher, Martin Elementary music/band; Bruce Johnson; Cumberland County High School band; Eleni Fragopoulos, SMHS theater; Elizabeth McDonald, Brown art; Ethan Tipton, SMHS band; Evangeline Sorbet, Homestead art; Jerry Buttram, Pleasant Hill music/band; Jessica Marsee, Crab Orchard Elementary music/band; Johanna San Inocencio, North Cumberland Elementary art; Kimberly Varner, CCHS art; Kristin Lopez, Stone Elementary music/band; Laura Rodriguez, North Cumberland music/band; Lindsay Akin, CCHS chorus; Lisa Hill, Pleasant Hill art; Mario Laborde, South Cumberland Elementary music/band; Nekesha Matthews, Crab Orchard art; Tristessa Luetkemeyer, SMHS visual art; Rachel Davis, Martin art; Sam Pharris, South Cumberland art; Shannon Brown, Stone Elementary art; and Teresa Cowley, Pine View art.

Contact Cheryl Duncan at or 931-484-5145.