Beloved CAA Icon Rests
A beloved teacher passed away Feb. 27, 2018, after a second bout with cancer. During the 30-plus years Reavis Belin taught at Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) in Battle Ground, Wash., he became the icon of all the good teachers at the school.
Belin first came to CAA from College View Academy in Lincoln, Neb., in 1979 as the industrial education teacher. One of the things he did to hook students’ interest was build sand rails. Belin loved to use his homemade buggies to get kids interested in many things, and trips to the dunes were just one of them.
As the student association (SA) did a Fall Fest fundraiser every year, he turned his buggy into a money-making machine as students and community members bought tickets for buggy rides. Belin used the land features of the Northwest — mud, rain and puddles of standing water — to make the ride an exciting experience.
Camping was another of Belin's favorites, and he would plan the boys’ club campouts, alternating between the coast — often to Fort Stevens in northwest Oregon — and the mountains.
Belin wasn’t only an outdoorsman and craftsman but also a musician. He sometimes helped with the praise music by playing his electronic bass, and, yes, he had made it himself in the shop.
In whatever he did, Belin lived to bless the lives of others. That might include shifting much of his teaching load over the years from industrial education to math classes, working late to tutor students needing help. He could be found anonymously helping to fund the tuition for students, driving the coach for biology trips and various other events, or playing Santa for the underprivileged kids in the annual Headstart program that the SA sponsored.
He continued his support for CAA as well as the Santa tradition even after retiring in 2011, and the sparkle in the kids’ eyes always matched the sparkle in his and spoke volumes about the love he had for people whether they were toddlers, maturing adults or colleagues.
CAA students’ words sum Belin up well:
“He was the heart and soul of Columbia Academy. Always kind. Always gentle. How someone can manage a classroom full of teenagers and power tools, yet keep his composure, I'll never know. But Mr. Belin did it. I learned a lot from him.”
“Mr. Belin was the only teacher that never gave up on me and the only one that believed in me. To my surprise and joy he showed up at my wife's funeral and honored her even though he didn't know her. He only knew she was my wife. He told me that I always held a place in his heart. He was a gentle man and he made me feel like I was worth it.”
“Mr. Belin was a bright light for how humans should live. He loved and laughed and lived fiercely with a passion for people that everyone could see and feel.”
“From his booming ‘whoa’ to his gentle smile, Mr. Belin was a caring inspiration to each of his students.”
“Woodworking, welding, auto mechanics, drafting, fabricating, silk screening, driver's ed, ELS, biology, algebra and geometry — these are the subjects you taught us. Patience, humility, caring and loving are what you were to us.”
Until that anxiously awaited resurrection day, a God-fearing, gentle, spiritual giant and mentor sleeps, and only in heaven will the full impact of his life on others be known.