LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Michael Bell

Position: Orchestra Teacher
School: DeKalb School of the Arts
School District: DeKalb County School District
City, State: Avondale Estates, GA

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Music that Describes Michael

Dr. Michael Bell was nominated by his colleague, Nicole Jacobs.

"Dr. Bell is an advocate of the arts, as well as general curriculum," said Jacobs. "He arrives at 7:00 AM, tutors calculus, teaches strings all day with passion and energy, and stays for hours after school working with his orchestra students. He greets every student in the morning with a grand voice, and he has the funniest sense of humor that the students adore. Dr. Bell has a big heart and goes above and beyond. He is the chair of the department, is involved at all levels of the school, and has helped new teachers tremendously. He is like the Energizer battery/ bunny, and he has been teaching for decades."

Comments (5)

Peyton Basnight Posted over a year ago

I only knew Dr.Bell for a short period of time, but I remember he came to DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts when I attended there and he visited my orchestra class and taught us for a little bit. I knew at that moment I wanted Dr.Bell to teach me. Even though he could not continue to teach me all of my 8th grade year, I truly appreciate everything he has done. He encouraged me and worked with me. He is honestly dedicated to his job and his students.

Michael Jones Posted over a year ago

Dr. Bell (I knew him as Mr. Bell) was my middle school orchestra teacher in SC in the mid to late 1980s. He went the extra mile back then too! Teaching music theory beyond the requirements of the curriculum and worked with me after school regularly to prepare for Jr All State auditions. He gave me a great musical foundation and was a key influence on my career choice as a public school orchestra teacher the past 24 years. Eternally grateful!

Robin Ayers Posted over a year ago

I am an 2018 alumni from DeKalb School of the Arts. While I was attending DSA, I was an cello major and visual arts minor. I am now majoring in Music Education- Instrumental K-12 at Appalachian State University. If I had not gone to DSA, I would not have pursued majoring in music. Dr. Bell changed my life for the better, and I cannot express how grateful I am for him. I showed me how to continue loving music, even when I was at my lowest points. I have continued using these strategies even today. Thank you so much Dr. Bell for everything you have done for us.

Dilya Posted over a year ago

Truly an amazing teacher, someone who is beyond passionate when it comes to music. Always willing to help and educate students and push them to their full potential. An amazing person over all.

Anna N Dunn Posted over a year ago

Senior orchestra student Maya collected these great reflections from students: 1. Cassia Hagley (Former DSA student, Class of 2021) “I love how honest he was and never failed to insult me.” 2. Symone (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “ His mustache is always perfect. He has the perfect balance of creepy and sarcastic.” 3. Adeyemi (Current DSA student, Class of 2022) “He is nonchalant in a sweet way.” 4. Jasmine Davis (Former DSA student, class of 2021) “ That man would just walk into our chorus class like he belonged there and I can respect that.” 5. Leila (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “He expects more from you than you would expect from yourself. He’s the only teacher that cared about my mental health.” 6. Justin Buckles (DSA Alumni, Class of 2020) “I loved the way he would conduct so aggressively.” 7. Zuri (Current DSA student, Class of 2022) “He’s always willing to work with me, even when I’m being lazy.” 8. Kennolia Freeman (DSA Alumni, Class of 2020) “ He always pushes you beyond your own expectations, multi- faceted, and he’s also a great music theory teacher.” 9. Hannah (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “He cares about the students. During stressful weeks like musical week he would give his music theory class sleep/study time. He is always free before school to help students work on what they need help on.He is willing to schedule time to practice/ with the students. I remember when he offered to help a student who really wanted to get in to musical prepare their audition. He analyzed results for all tests and quizzes to make sure that both he and the students can target their problem areas. He is always willing to listen to people— even those who are not in his classes.” 10. Rihan (Current DSA student, Class of 2022) “I admire the fact that he’s able to always have more energy than us. I have never seen him tired.” 11. Franchesca (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “He’s really encouraging and makes me try my hardest in his class.” 12. Omi’se (Current DSA student, Class of 2023) He’s taught me lessons in orchestra that I have used in life and other art areas. He’s hilarious.” 13. York Lewis (DSA Alumni, Class of 2020) “Even though I wasn't the easiest student to work with, he always pushed me to be the best player that he knew I could be and never gave up on teaching me even he when I didn’t really want to learn. So I’m really appreciative of him for that. And that Roth IRA chile! I already started mine up. I’m going to be RICH!” 14. Paige (Current DSA student , Class of 2021) “ He always managed to make me feel better about my day and about my playing abilities.” 15. Cameron (Current DSA Student, Class of 2021) “He’s the most genuine person I’ve ever met in my whole life. He’s super knowledgeable, never hold back anything, and takes the extra step to help anyone in need. He’s absolutely dedicated to making you the best you can be.” 16. Miles (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “ He’ll always support you and accommodate you regardless of what you’re going through.” 17. Ciboney (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “ He will always work through any problem with you about any topic. He’ll yell at you one minute, but he honestly just really cares a lot. If you ever need to borrow money, he’s always happy to lend. He’s always there to better you.” 18. Lily Nitler (DSA Alumni, Class of 2020) “ Here likes to teach about life too; which is random and cool.” 19. Nia (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “I love god Current jokes, and the way he threatens us in the best way possible to be the best we can be. He’s literally an undercover genius.” 20. Maya (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “It’s really the fact that he could be in the best Florida Keys retirement home with a premium membership; but he’s here with us instead. It really shows his dedication and love for his career and us. Dr. Bell is the best. Everyone needs a Michelle in their life.” 21. Julia (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “Absolute KING of a man, he’s really reassuring and a fantastic role model for every teacher on the planet. He grades everyone based on their own skill level, and is always down to clown and push you to do better while offering endless support. He’s got a great sense of humor and I can always be comfortable around him. Plus he’s got the killer mustache. How can you say no to that?!” 22. Alice (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) He actually cares about his students. He based his grades and teaching on each individual student rather than grading people in comparison to everybody else. He’s got a great sense of humor and manages to keep the crazy orchestra kids in check despite being secretly super chill. He just wants us to be the best we can be. And in between he still manages to to give us advice on subjects outside his own life and life itself. He always goes the extra mile for his students.” 23. Beyonca (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “He really cares about our productions, whether it only concerns him or not.I really love his humor and that he’s really friendly with every student, not just his own. He’s honest, but kind, and an all round great teacher.” 24. Christie Castor (Former DSA student, Class of 2021) “ He tells me all the time that he steals his ties from homeless people. And I love that for him.” 25. Paris Hilman (DSA Alumni, Class of 2019) “He taught us useful skills and tips outside of music that we can use for life.” 26. Journey Wilder (DSA Alumni, Class of 2019) “Dr. Bell is freaking hilarious and knows how to push you to do better without it coming off as forced. He genuinely cares about his students, not only in academics and orchestra, but also or well being. I feel like he has such a special way of connecting with students and it’s but just reserved for orchestra students either. Like, literally everyone loves him and if they say they don’t they’re lying. I never felt that I was held to this crazy standard as his student. Which I much appreciated. All he wants you to do is YOUR best, not HIS best or HER best. He allowed time and space for us to play around and just enjoy being in his class and didn’t make orchestra as stuffy and competitive as I felt taking any other arts classes. Not to say he didn’t pipe us down when we did too much, lol.” 27. Tre’sure Trotter (DSA Alumni, Class of 2020) “He pushes you when he knows you can do better without overworking you. He respects your boundaries while still making a connection with you. He truly cares about us all round from music to money management. He just wants to make us the best we can be.” 28. Dayton Visser (Former DSA student, Class Of 2021) “ This one time I was at an Allstate audition and he was there to take me to the room but he said a really funny Star Wars quote in Yoda’s voice and I’m pretty sure it made me play better.” 29. Rachel Sanchez (DSA Alumni, Class of 2020) “He is absolutely hilarious and truly doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. Yet, wants the best for absolutely everyone.” 30. Asha Freeman (DSA Alumni, Class of 2020) “He really makes sure that you understand what we’ve been learning even if it takes all day. He’s rude in the nicest way possible it makes you work harder and have a good laugh. He’s my best friend, and I’m not sure if he knows that, lol. Overall he was there for me more than any other DSA teacher and I’m forever grateful for that.” 31. Elizabeth (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) “He offers help and actually cares about students learning material and offers lots of resources to improve playing, music theory, etc.” 32. Lauryn Swasey (DSA Alumni, Class of 2020) “ He actually knows what he’s talking about and is very supportive.” 33. William Blackwell (DSA Alumni, Class of 2020) “He’s a great teacher and person. I’ve never seen him not willing to help someone and that’s admirable.” 34. Dahlia ( Current DSA Student, Class of 2022) “He’s always there if you need help! He never judges even if you sound absolutely terrible. He might make fun of you for a second, but that’s just his personality and to be honest it actually makes you feel better too because it lightens the mood haha. But he’s always down to help and that goes for absolutely anythingggg! Like he’s helped me with math before lol and he always gets so excited when someone asks for help. True uwu moment.” 35. Ty Thomas (Former DSA Student, Class Of 2021) “Sometimes when he threw pencils, the eraser would hit me instead of the tip. That was really nice of him.” 36. Jordan (Current DSA student, Class Of 2022) “He’s the smartest person in music that I’ll probably ever know and is a fantastic teacher who can convey all that crazy complex music theory stuff in the way that’s as simple as it can get. Good sarcastic/aggressive humor is also one of the funniest and best parts of his class too.” 37. Thomas (Current DSA student, Class of 2022) “He’s always gonna put you up for a challenge and he does this because he wants us to be prepared for whatever comes our way! He also cares about our grades, and he will literally never fail any of his students.” 38. Anna (Current DSA student, Class of 2023) “Dr. Bell is the orchestra department's personal life coach, doctor, financial advisor, and probably has the degrees somewhere to prove it! he obviously puts a lot of time, effort, and dedication into making sure all of his students are the best versions of themselves they can be, and always dresses like a stiff even in virtual school to prove his dedication to us (or maybe he doesn't own any other clothes). He plays along with with my weird jokes and i will probably leave him money in my will.” 39. Miles (Current DSA student, Class of 2022) His absolute, brutal, unapologetic honesty is my favorite quality of god. 40. Psalm (Current DSA student, Class Of 2021) “He gave me great advice when I had some trouble with friends and always let me sit in the orchestra area when I wasn’t feeling good 41. Lucas Garvey (DSA Alumni, Class of 2019) “When I was assistant conductor in the pit orchestra dr bell was very patient and would help me go over conducting patterns and answer any questions I had. He was also very encouraging and the whole experience of being his assistant conductor was very gratifying” 42. Maurice (Current DSA student, Class of 2022) “Dr. Bell genuinely wants to see everyone succeed whether they’re in orchestra or not. I’ve never had Dr. Bell in my four years so far at DSA yet he’s brought me so many opportunities just because he saw something in me and I will always be grateful for that. He genuinely cares about all of our futures and he makes any sacrifice necessary to make sure that we’re set in the right path.” 43. Willa (Current DSA student, Class of 2021) Dr. Bell cares so much about making us the best musicians we can be, and always wants us to reach our full potential. He does everything to make orchestra fun while making sure we’re developing our skills. He’s super dedicated to orchestra, staying late all the time for rehearsals and practice and such. And he’s funny! Dr. Bell has some of the best quotes in the school. I really appreciate everything he does. 44. Cameron Wescott (DSA Alumni, Class of 2018) “I think Dr. Bell is pretty emotionally intelligent. He knows when to tease and when to be earnest. He knows when to give critical feedback and when to just be encouraging.”