Brad Belin ’03: The Accidental Educator
No one seems more surprised about Brad Belin ’03’s career trajectory than Belin himself. Looking back on his years at Rivers, Belin—the most recent recipient of the school’s Young Alumni Achievement Award—says, “I wasn’t a model student or necessarily someone who thought of school as a place for education. School was a convenient place to play sports and hang out with friends.”
It’s probably fair to say he’s come around on that position: Belin has forged a life in education, working as a teacher, consultant, and administrator. He recently entered his second year as assistant head of school for curriculum and program/director of upper school at Glen Urquhart School (GUS), an independent school serving grades pre-kindergarten through 8 in Beverly, MA.
School wasn’t always easy for Belin. Formally diagnosed with ADHD just prior to the start of his tenure at Rivers in 1997, he sometimes struggled academically at Rivers. “But the majority of my teachers invested in me and held me accountable and taught me tough lessons about my expectations for myself. I wanted to work for them,” he says. Today, his neurodivergence has become an integral part of his identity as an educator. But when he went off to college at Quinnipiac University, he had a very different goal in mind.
A dedicated athlete while at Rivers, Belin played football and lacrosse, earning seven varsity letters. He was drawn to a major in sports medicine—specifically, athletic training. But, he says, “I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.” He instead studied sociology and legal studies, with no particular career aim. In his senior year, he mentored at-risk teens through a local YMCA, which, he says, “got me thinking that maybe I could work with kids on a full-time basis.”
He earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and took a series of positions in independent schools, as a teacher and, later, an administrator focusing on curriculum, program development, and DEI work. At GUS, he says, part of his role involves making sure that DEI “is not an added-on component but a part of our teachers’ everyday work.” His own background as a transracial adoptee from South Korea, he says, helps him “make sure we do our best to create equitable and inclusive conditions—so that every student is given a chance to feel as though they aren’t just part of a school, but truly of that school community.”
Belin also found his sweet spot in working with middle school students. He acknowledges that it can be a challenging age group, but he appreciates their energy, enthusiasm, and humor. “I probably laugh too much at the things kids say or do,” says the married father of three. “They do some borderline crazy things, but it keeps me young and engaged and helps me build connections with students. Hopefully, I’m playing a small but important role in shaping their future.”
This story first appeared in the fall 2023 issue of the Riparian, The Rivers School's alumni magazine.