Meet Jared Belew! Jared has been the principal of Spout Springs School of Enrichment for two years and has been working for the school since 2005. He moved his way up from Media Specialist to Assistant Principal to now, current Principal. Jared lives in Decatur with his wife Jennifer of 20 years and three children; Isaiah (16), Ellison (12), and James (8).
Jared was born and raised in Atlanta and went to Georgia State to earn his Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education and a Masters in Library Media. He also attended Mercer University to earn his specialist’s in Leadership.
When he’s not at Spout Springs, you can find Jared “taxing [his] children around” to different sporting events. He and his family are huge fans of traveling and like to focus on creating experiences and memories together. Jared has traveled to countries like Greece, Norway, France, Spain, and many more.
We want to thank Jared for spending time with us and telling us about his love for Hall County!
Question: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A: “I think working with children can be extremely impactful. There’s different domains of working with children. Different areas that you can tap in to, but I think it’s a very rewarding profession. One of my favorite quotes is ‘The best thing about education, about teaching is that it matters, and the hardest thing is that it matters all the time.’ It can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be extremely emotionally draining. I feel like there’s a lot of jobs you can have that are good and they do good things, but they don’t impact lives as much as education does.”
Q: What do you love about working at Spout Springs?
A: “It’s a great school in a lot of ways. We have a wonderful committed staff of teachers. We have a wonderful community that’s invested in education, so we really focus on partnership and working to maximize student education, but just in general, I think it’s a vibrant school, has a lot to give. We don’t have a lot of teacher turnover, so we have the ability to really build deep relationships with each other and also really have the ability because of that to know what the school’s about and what we’re trying to achieve which is student outcomes.”
Q: How did you end up working in Hall County?
A: “So, this is a strange story. I was actually teaching in Clayton County and ended up deciding that I wanted to try a different setting. I was at a Title 1 school and started looking for positions. A friend of mine was also looking for a position, strangely enough, and actually called this school and the principal at the time who was Damon Geebs actually mentioned that he did not need any teachers but he needed a media specialist, so she told me, and I called and interviewed and ended up getting this job here, and I’ve been here since 2005 and moved up. During that time, I’ve served as Media Specialist here, I’ve served as AP here, and as Principal here.”
Q: What is the main difference between an enrichment school and an elementary school?
A: “That’s our magnet is school-wide enrichment model, so that’s why our name is Spout Springs School of Enrichment, so some of the things we really try to do is rigor for all, and we really try to look at providing that no matter where that child is, so it’s taking in the gifted pedagogy and pushing it down to all students. We believe that a rising tide lifts all ships, so if you provide high expectations, rigor for any student no matter where they are on the continuum of learning that they’re going to grow. We really look at that as our philosophy. It’s our mission, and so we do things like learning contacts, things of that nature. We do enrichment clusters which are interest-based learning experiences for students. Those are just looking at ways to focus on the whole child but doing that in a way that’s helping them develop their talents and interests as well.”
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Hall County?
A: “I like the diversity of Hall County. I think it has a lot of beautiful land. We have actually come up here a few times, just with my personal family, and I’ve actually gone hiking up in Alachee and places like that. I like the fact that it’s got a good community feel. It has a lot of traditional values. A lot of Hall county believes in family and that kind of commitment, so I think that’s a positive for Hall county.”
Q: What is something you want your students to always remember?
A: “We have our creed which is to be respectful, responsible, and to serve others. We want them, obviously, to be academically strong but we also want to focus on whole child and the character development of that child and having those skills that will take them well beyond the halls of Hall county schools. That’s something that’s really important to us. It’s infused into everything we do, and so we really try to make sure we give them opportunities to practice those experiences.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Hall County, and what do you love there?
A: “There’s a little restaurant up in Oakwood. I think it’s called Haydee’s. It’s Hispanic owned, and it’s really good food. It’s a very small place, but it’s a really cool place to go, and they’re always very friendly. The food is always very good.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?
A: “This is my second year as principal at Spout Springs, and so I know that eventually, I’d like to move beyond building-level administration, but it could very well be right here where I’m at currently or it could possibly be a central office position at some capacity. You have to be in a school setting to be effective school administrator like usually, your plans take about 4 or 5 years for them to actually play out, so I really want to make that I’m committed to bringing about that change that I have a vision for, but definitely still in education. In 10 years, I could very well be close to retirement, strangely enough. You can retire with 30 years in education, and so I’m getting pretty close. I’m at 18, so I would be at the tail end of my career if I were doing 30 years in education. I want to still be, in some way, impacting students, and I don’t know what that would look like in terms of specific job, but I’m pretty much in it for the long haul for 30 years in education. Once you sort of get in, you’ve got so many years. You sort of have to stick with it. That’s not a negative. It’s a positive for me, and I hope wherever I’m at in 5 or 10 years, I’m still really impacting student outcomes, and I want to be working with students in some capacity.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “There’s a lot of things on my bucket list. We like to travel, and so, one of the things that I really have not been able to see yet, and I actually am frustrated that I haven’t been able to see yet is, I’m a big World War II guy and have not actually see a concentration camp in person, and so that’s on my bucket list is to see one. I’ve traveled pretty extensively overseas, but I’ve never actually been able to make it. That’s something that I’d definitely like to see.”
Q: What advice would you give to a crowd of people?
A: “Be kind to people. Love people honestly, and make sure that you speak to the importance of trust. I think you can see that sort of in our society now is that it’s extremely difficult to have faith in people and have a deep, true trust that someone’s going to take care of you and that you can take care of them and just that it’s extremely important to foster that. So just ensuring that that’s important. I think that’s extremely important is that people know that they have the opportunity to change people, and they can do that just through loving them and showing them kindness and generosity, but also, we have to keep people understanding that they can honestly rely on us when they need to rely on us, so just building that trust.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person that you’ve met here in Hall County? Who would you like to see nominated as a Face of Hall County?
A: “I’ve met a lot of interesting people in Hall County. I’m going to go with Will Schofield. He’s the superintendent of schools, and I know that sounds like a bad answer. I’m always fascinated to see somebody that can manage such a large scale of things and he’s managing so many pieces. He’s managing vision and mission. He’s looking at a long term longitudinal plans. He’s looking at data. He’s managing people. He’s the politics of the community, and to be able to see somebody do that and still come to work happy and jovial and committed to the task is really neat to see. He’s a great guy. He’s one that you can trust, and he trusts in you. He’s easy to talk to. He’s very approachable, but I just think it’s neat to be able to see somebody that can go in and sometimes take on a job that’s sort of a thankless job sometimes and making hard decisions that are probably the right decisions even though they may not be the popular decisions and kind of living with that every day, so I would say him.”
Q: If you were a guest star on any TV show, what would it be? And why?
A: “I’m a big documentarian. I like watching documentaries. I’m a big fan of Ken Burns’ documentaries, and I like Frontline. I’m very committed to watching Frontline, so I think I’d just like to have maybe just an experience in a documentary talking about something maybe you’re familiar with or an expert on or something like that.”
Q: What three words or phrases that come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: “I think it’s a safe place, rest comes to mind, family comes to mind, and just maybe sanctuary I think. It’s definitely a place where you can be your true self, and they accept you for it. For better or for worse, and those are just some things that come to mind for me.”