The Herald had an opportunity to interview Bell regarding her time working in the alternative classroom, where students with social/emotional disabilities, ADHD, learning disabilities, and behavioral issues are educated in a highly structured environment.
“During the time that Ms. Bell has been here, she has helped many students complete high school that otherwise would not have,” said Raymond Superintendent Steve Holland. “These have included students who have dropped out of high school and wanted to try again, as well as students who required flexibility due to various personal challenges. Her passionate drive to ensure that all of her students were successful will be greatly missed.”
Although she had numerous careers throughout her life, Bell said that teaching was her favorite. “I love the students. They are so interesting and fun and have their whole lives ahead of them to become whatever they choose. Many don’t even realize their potential or the opportunities in the world that await them,” she explained.
The most rewarding aspect of being a teacher is “having a student you have been working with, finally “get it” and watching them develop confidence and pride in their accomplishment,” Bell said.
Bell explained that she is frustrated with the direction education has taken over her time as a teacher. “Students now have to pass to math, one science and two English tests to graduate and the test questions don’t always evaluate what the student knows,” she said. “Some students are not good at test taking. I dislike the focus on test taking and I’d like to see more vocational offerings so students could come out of high school prepared for more than a minimum wage job.”
For Bell, the biggest challenge of teaching is “that it now encompasses so much more than teaching. There are students who are without family support and without the necessities and it makes it difficult for them to focus on learning. Many of the people who criticize schools have no idea of the problems that students have that interfere with their learning. There are major societal problems that teachers are expected to address in order for students to be able to pass standardized tests which don’t really help them get a job, be successful in college or function in society.”
She continued that in order to improve public education, teachers need to be left to do their jobs. “[Teachers] are professionals who spend years learning their profession. I have worked in several career fields and I haven’t seen any people more dedicated, caring and hard-working than teachers. Before a politician can make any rules for schools they should have to spend a week in a classroom.”
Bell said that she will miss the students and staff. “RHS is a very nice place to work. I will probably substitute and attend the school functions to keep in touch. I won’t miss the exhaustion and will enjoy the free time.”