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Black History Today: Dr. Kristina Bellamy, Actualizing Her Dreams in Service of Others

by Marcus Harden

Black History Today, created by Marcus Harden in celebration of Black History Month, pays tribute to the living legacy of Black history in our community and beyond and recognizes the people shaping the future.

Presented in collaboration with Rise Up for Students.

“Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”

—Shonda Rhimes

Only those who are brave enough to chase their dreams are bold enough to catch them. The act of turning a dream into a plan, a plan into an action, and that action into an accomplishment is what truly defines “success.” The person that does that over and over again, across various disciplines, is more than just a dreamer — they are an agent of change and proof of possibility.

Dr. Kristina Bellamy is a dream-chaser, dream-catcher, and in many ways, a dream-creator. Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, she actualized one of her first dreams at a young age as a beauty pageant winner, earning the crown of Miss Alaska Teen USA.

The dreams didn’t stop there. Kristina is always one to redefine stereotypes and went on to pursue and obtain a degree in criminal justice from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (where she was a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.).

As dreams will often do, though, Kristina found herself called down an unexpected path as her passion and purpose to serve shifted toward education.

Kristina followed that call by joining Teach For America, earning her Master of Education from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in the process.

Like many dreamers, Kristina desired to bring her newfound skills back home to Anchorage, where she became a teacher and a principal, serving as a role model of possibility for all children, but especially for young Black and Brown children in the community.

Having planted her seeds back home, she moved on to lead in Seattle Public Schools (Go Emerson Eagles!), transforming the school with her dynamic leadership. Yet, she knew there was more to be done, more she could do.

In 2013, she took the risk and left all she’d built behind to create a paradigm shift in education as one of Washington’s first three leaders to open a free and public charter school — and the first Black woman to do so. As creator and founder of SOAR Academy, she led with clear vision through uncertain times and blazed a trail for those behind her.

More of life’s twists and turns brought Kristina her greatest joy: the joy of being a mother to her brilliant son. This journey led her back home to Anchorage, where she now serves as a senior district administrator, coming full circle yet still pursuing the dream.

Her accolades aside, to know Kristina is to truly know a woman with a servant’s heart. Whether volunteering in the community (and running her own company) with young women involved in pageants to redefine that genre, championing causes for healthy living, or advocating for children with autism, Kristina’s dreams extend to transform the lives of others.

Her ability to dream big and actualize those dreams in service of others has truly changed lives for the better, allowing others to dream bigger, bolder, and brighter. Dr. Kristina Bellamy continues to create change, and that is why she is, indeed, Black History Today!

Marcus Harden is a seasoned educator, with experience as a teacher, counselor, dean, administrator, and program and policy manager. Marcus focuses his work on creating better culture and climate for students, families, and staff. He believes deeply in restorative justice practices and in mindset and resiliency work that leads to excellent and equitable educational outcomes for all students.

📸 Featured image by Devin Chicras for the Emerald.

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