Bell wants her students to find a place of belonging in her classroom
This article is part of a series by The Vicksburg Post, in partnership with the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, featuring each of the nominees for teacher of the year honors.
For Theresa Bell, an English teacher at Warren Central High School, her career is not work, but rather destiny.
“I teach because it is the only job God has for me,” she said.
Bell is one of the educators nominated for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher of the Year awards.
The chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at its luncheon Feb. 25. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino, and the runner-up for each award will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union.
“When teaching a community of students with multiple abilities, cultures, races and socioeconomic backgrounds, it is important to me that everyone feels a sense of belonging,” Bell said in her Teacher of the Year application. “In order for students to learn, they must trust the teacher and the environment by which they are leading.”
Bell, who is in her 19th year of teaching, received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Jackson State and later a master’s degree in education from Mississippi College. Currently, she is working on another master’s degree in English.
During her career, Bell said she has had many memorable moments, but it was when she received a letter from a student on the last day of a school year that meant the most.
“This young man was one who was extremely deterred from school. He was consistently disciplined by teachers and administrators for the first three years of high school and half his senior year,” she writes.
Bell said the student’s grades were average, but his test scores were below average. But that did not change the way Bell looked at the student.
“I often reminded him of the talents and high intellect that he had,” she said. “On the last day of school, he placed a letter in my box with his own personal handwriting. He stated how grateful he was for me not giving up on him even though others had.”
She said the student went on to say it was Bell’s recognition of his abilities that meant the most.
“He continued to say, although he had had a large number of teachers in his life that I was his favorite because I did not see color or gender but I just saw him for him and that he would always remember me,” she recalled.
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