By MARK MCGEE
Maleah Claxton has a problem most businesses would love to have: her business is growing and she needed more room to add some help.
She moved into her new offices, across North Main Street from her old office, earlier this year. With the move she was able to add another agent to ease her own workload.
Bonne Belden, a former Spanish teacher at Shelbyville Central High School, is a new agency representative for Claxton who started in June of this year.
“I had all of the business I could handle by myself,” Claxton said. “That is what Bonne does. She takes cares of new clients.”
A plus is Belden is also fluent in Spanish. She interacts with the Hispanic clients.
“It has been so important to my Hispanic customers that she is here,” Claxton said. “They are so much more comfortable talking with her.”
Belden was born and raised outside of Houston, Texas, but also has many family members in East Tennessee. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, with a minor in Secondary Education. Her Master’s Degree is in Curriculum and Instruction, from Nova Southeastern University.
She is married to Brian Belden, who is an attorney and a member of the Army National Guard. They have three daughters (Katerina, age 15; Cora, age 10; and Christine, age 5) and also have a German exchange student living with them.
“I taught high school Spanish for many years in the Middle Tennessee area, mostly recently at Shelbyville Central High School for six years,” Belden said. “I decided to make a change in career and begin a new professional journey. So, while my husband was away at basic training and I was still working full-time as a teacher and mother, I did online real estate classes and earned my real estate license.”
Chatting with Claxton while both were on a school trip to Puerto Rico began Belden’s interest in insurance.
“I took students from SCHS on a trip to Puerto Rico,” Belden said. “One of my students, Gracin Qualls, brought his mother, Maleah Claxton, on the trip and we became friends.
“After chumming around Puerto Rico for a few days, she asked me if I’d ever want to consider learning the insurance business and come work with her. I was shocked and flattered. She liked the fact that I could speak Spanish and could obviously work with the public since I had been a teacher for so long.”
A year after they talked Belden ended her teaching career in May of this year. It has been the right decision for her.
“I can honestly say I have loved it every single day,” Belden said. “Maleah and our office assistant, Susie Emery, have made me feel so welcome. I have loved learning a new profession and genuinely look forward to coming into the office every day.”
She also has remained active in real estate as a realtor for Heritage Realty Group.
“The two professions work well together,” Belden said. “I have been able to juggle both professions very well.
“I specifically love the fact that I can still use my Spanish degree every day in the insurance and real estate world. I consider myself very blessed and am very thankful to have these opportunities.”