Jeremy Bell has been named the Vancleave High School (VHS) Teacher of the Year.
Bell has been at VHS for four years. The first three years as an inclusion teacher, and this year as a math teacher to ninth and tenth graders. He’s been teaching for nine years, having previously taught math for five years at St. Martin High School.
He graduated from East Central High School and began college at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Gautier before transferring to the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Then he attended the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson before finishing his Master’s degree at William Carey Community College.
Bell was humbled by the nomination and the award ceremony.
“The school provided a wonderful presentation ceremony. Upon announcing the winner, people cheered, and best of all, my two-year-old daughter was allowed to attend and joined me. I have a dream of making her proud some day and that was the initial thought in my mind when I saw her,” Bell said.
Bell is honored to be named Teacher of the Year.
“The award confirms that my devotion to the students and community is noticed by others. I hope that they are proud to have me as a coworker and I am so blessed to be a part of the Jackson County School District.”
He also has high praise for his fellow teachers.
“If you were aware of the amazing staff at VHS, you would understand that it is quite an honor. I can’t think of a single teacher I work with who isn’t deserving of this award.”
Bell left a medical career to become a teacher. Initially, he had wanted to be a teacher to have some time off, but as he progressed in his new-found profession, that sentiment evolved.
“I never knew that I would fall in love with the profession the way I did. I feel like I have the opportunity to make a difference, just like my teachers did for me.”
What is his favorite part about teaching?
“I love each and every chance that I get to remind students that they matter. They are awesome. And they are the future. The content and responsibilities of teaching are fun too, but to see a student light up when they hear that I am proud of them or that they are important in my life – it’s priceless.”
Teaching does offer up some challenges for Bell.
“No matter how hard I try or how much research I do, I am not able to motivate every single student that needs it. It is quite frustrating when one exhausts seemingly all resources and efforts to motivate a student to succeed, and then lose them.”
Bell believes that teachers as a community should continue to find answers for all students, regardless of their backgrounds or motivation.
Family provides a great source of support for Bell and he didn’t realize he was capable of the kind of appreciation he has for them.
“My parents have sacrificed so much for me over the years and I will be forever in their debt. My brother is amazing and supportive. My wife is amazing at everything she does and has always shown me support. To my amazing little girl, I hope to always make her proud of me.”
And his gratitude extends beyond his family and coworkers.
“To my kindergarten teacher, thank you for loving and believing in me. To my speech teacher in elementary school, thank you for holding my face and whispering ‘I want to hear what you have to say, just slow down.’ To my ‘wings’ teacher in elementary school, thank you for putting problems in front of me that I could not solve and thank you for helping me find the strength to eventually figure them out. To my biology teacher at MGCCC, thank you for sliding $20 under that table for me so I could eat with the others that night. I have, and will always, pay that forward. To the entomology professor at Ole Miss who gave me a 47 on the first test in college, thank you for challenging me to dig deeper and truly earn a grade.”
Bell also has some advice for current and future teachers.
“Most of these teachers I described above will not remember these acts of kindness, but I think about them daily. Let your light shine, and I’ll continue to shine mine as well.”