Boyce found second home at Buckeye Local

Photo Provided Buckeye Local High School English teacher Belinda Boyce is saying farewell after 34 years in the school district and nearly 41 years in education. An avid reader, she has inspired countless students and encouraged a love of literature. Her last day was May 31.

CONNORVILLE — Buckeye Local High School English teacher Belinda Boyce has made the school her second home, but now she is saying a fond farewell.

Boyce wrapped up her tenure on May 31 but plans after nearly 41 years in education to continue fulfilling her love of literature, something which led her to the classroom in the first place.

“My love of reading English literature just came easily and naturally,” she said, noting her love for bookstores and libraries to this day.

Growing up in West Virginia, she was in the last graduating class at Wellsburg High School in 1969 and received her bachelor’s degree in education and music from West Liberty State College. She returned to teach at Brooke High School for four years and was a substitute teacher for 14 years, finally finding a permanent space across the river at Buckeye Local. Boyce later earned her master’s degree in communication from West Virginia University and has been certified in grades 7-12 English, K-12 music and comprehensive communication such as drama, speech and reading.

She recalled her early days at Brooke, where she worked from 1973-77 and recalled harsh snow conditions and freezing temperatures between 1976 and 1978. Schools had closed down and snow remained until May as she trudged through the white mess while pregnant with her second child. During her first year at Buckeye Local, she was choir director and organized concerts. As she finished her final days at BLHS, she shared how teaching has invigorated her and instilled a passion for reading among her students.

“I’m 73 but don’t feel it. I think this keeps you young. I’ve been in the same room for 34 years and it’s a second home. This is my haven.”

She remembered how it had been her respite through dark times, including the deaths of her parents, brother, two sisters, a brother-in-law and her granddaughter, who was also named Haven. Boyce said her students were warm and comforting and being there has soothed her.

“Life is so out of control everywhere and this is where you have control,” she added. “You want to get kids to love reading and to instill a love of reading into them. I love senior English. I love British literature and we always focus on works such as ‘Canterbury Tales,’ ‘Beowulf’ and ‘Macbeth.'”

She has taught them the classics from Shakespeare to Chaucer, as well as stories from local native Robin Yocum. Boyce has kept her students’ projects in her classroom, including a handmade replica of the sword from “Beowulf” and medieval posters advertising Shakespearean plays at the Globe Theatre, while she has lent books to staff and pupils alike to build their interest in the written word. The students’ projects will stay in the classroom where she has taught senior English and College Credit Plus courses.

She said there were too many highlights to name but counted working with great colleagues and serving as senior class advisor to oversee prom and graduation events among them.

“Everything has been memorable,” she added, but said one outstanding recollection was the 20th Anniversary Memorial Service of 9/11 which she coordinated as advisor of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“I have been the advisor for many years. The service was very beautiful. Music, recounts of the events, and the pictorial video made it memorable. Most of the students had not been born yet or were too young to remember it,” she recalled.

Outside the school, she has promoted education in other ways by serving as a mentor and district coordinator in the resident educator program and co-founding the Alpha Delta Kappa Beta Epsilon Chapter in 2001 with Susan Nolan, principal at Buckeye North Elementary, and serving as chapter past president and both the regional and international music chair, the latter which involved organizing the music for events in Atlanta and now Philadelphia. Meanwhile, her musical interest has also continued with area church choir activities.

However, things may become somewhat quieter on the 108-acre farm near Dillonvale that she shares with her husband, Danny, and raises beef cattle. Days will also be filled with catching up on housework, making homemade jelly and spending some quality time with the couple’s four children and eight grandchildren.

Despite it all, she shares a final piece of advice for future students–read.

“Reading improves your vocabulary and it’s amazing. I just taught kids to love reading as much as I do,” she commented. “I think reading can take you anywhere, and there are kids who have never left their hometown.”


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