Staff Spotlight – Learning Designer, Crystal Beshears

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”

Ignacio Estrada

Crystal Beshears is empathetic, a good listener, and puts passion into everything that she does, including transforming education for the future of Arkansas and beyond. What most people may not know is that her passion for education stems back to her own educational experience as a student. In her interview, she shares her experience that led her to become a Learning Designer at OIE.

Tell us about your background.

I moved around a lot as a kid, rarely staying in one place for more than a year, and settled in Arkansas in middle school. I’ve lived in many different places in Arkansas, Texas, the Midwest, and Germany, and have called Fayetteville home for several years. I went to college in Omaha, Nebraska and completed graduate studies in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I have two amazing daughters, 17 and 24, and a bonus daughter who is 8 and a bonus son who is 19. My doctorate is in Curriculum and Instruction, and my studies emphasized inquiry-based learning. I taught high school in the Delta near Helena and later spent many wonderful years in Lincoln schools. My work has taken me all over the states and overseas. Being a Learning Designer at OIE is my dream job, I’m able to integrate my love of research, educator and student support, and innovation!

What is your role at the Office of Innovation for Education?

Learning Design and Innovation Leader

What are three traits that define you?

Enthusiastic, Curious, and Kind

What are some things that you do to help maintain a positive culture at OIE?

Currently, I’m personally working on active listening, lifting different perspectives in the room, and being more compassionate.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I had a challenging home life, especially during high school, and a lot of responsibilities at home. I was not a “well-behaved student” in school, in a traditional sense, even though I made top grades. I was chronically absent and while I loved learning, I didn’t feel known or heard. I worked close to full-time from the age of 15 on. I pushed back on what felt like a lot of rules and norms, that didn’t make sense to me, especially given the adult-like life I lived outside of school. I was often in detention and spent many days in in-school suspension. I have a heart for listening to students and trying to understand and support them as a result!!!

What is your favorite thing about working at the Office of Innovation for Education?

Our team environment and the work we get to do with schools and educators for students.