Maine DOE Team member Courtney Belolan is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Campaign. Learn a little more about Courtney in the question and answer below.
What are your roles with DOE?
As the Director of Policy and Government Affairs, I am a part of the team that works to bring our vision for education in the State of Maine to life. My focus is on legislation and policy, collaborating with people from across the department to understand, respond to, and influence the different laws, rules, and guidance related to education here in Maine.
What do you like best about your job?
I value the opportunities I have to see the interconnectedness of all the different aspects of education. Before coming to the DOE, my background was mostly in instruction, assessment, and curriculum. Every day I learn something from one of the incredible people here or get to hear about an issue from a different perspective. The philosophical and theoretical discussions I get to be involved in never fail to make my day. I have long said that argument and statistics are two of the most important areas of skills and understandings for anybody to learn and practice. I get to use them every day!
How or why did you decide on this career?
Honestly, I avoided a career in education for a little bit! It wasn’t until a teacher approached me after I finished a whole-school assembly presenting the wildlife of Long Island (I used to work for NY Audubon, and was the person who brought the animals from a sanctuary into schools) and told me I needed to be in public schools that I took it seriously as an option. Once I was teaching, I quickly discovered a passion for teaching and learning and student-centered practices. As far as ending up in policy, I didn’t see that coming! I was fortunate to be able to get involved with policy work through the Maine Curriculum Leaders Association, and the more I did it, the more comfortable I became, the more I liked it, and the better at it I got. Policy is a way to have an impact on all the learners in Maine, not just the ones in my classroom or school, or district. It is important work and I am honored to be a part of it.
What do you like to do outside of work for fun?
I have the most fun when I am moving my body in some way or enjoying silliness with my son. Roller skating, tap dancing (any dancing really), hiking, yoga, even boxing! If it involves coordinated movement, I’m in. Nothing brings me more joy than having laughing fits with my son, though. He loves all the silly comedy shows I love and has a sense of humor that gets me every time. I am also a musician beginning to get back into the music-making groove. I love to sing in choirs and bands, I picked cello back up after about 20 years, and still play my piano and guitars now and then. My gardens also are a source of joy in my life, they help me stay connected to the earth and its beauty.