It All Started Here … Dr. George Bell
NORTH EAST, Md. – For more than three decades, students walking into Dr. George Bell’s English class quickly realized this man was very different from a traditional teacher. His enthusiasm, wit, and desire to be that helping hand to those struggling academically made him unique among his peers of the day.
“I was particularly interested in teaching developmental students because they have the greatest need,” said Dr. Bell. “They often are among the most grateful students because they know they need special help. They are not quite in the college level courses yet. I came here with a view and a demand that I would teach developmental courses, and they were very anxious for someone to come in and set them up.”
Dr. Bell, who retired from Cecil College in 2007 after 31 years, has a particular interest in courses which are taken by students whose skills assessment scores indicate a need for development and are required to complete the appropriate classes. During his more than 40-year career of teaching English, he has touched the lives of more than 3,500 students.
Joining the faculty in 1975, Dr. Bell was witness to the growth and the associated growing pains of Cecil College, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of serving Cecil County. Known for his upbeat, animated demeanor, his love of people drove Dr. Bell and, above all, he took great delight in the connections he was able to make with the students. He is deeply devoted to his students and says the relationship can be tough love at times.
“It’s where the rubber meets the ground is where the instructor meets the student. It’s that relationship. Without that relationship, this is all meaningless. It’s there that the institution establishes its meaning. Without that there’s nothing. There’s no meaning at all,” said Dr. Bell. “As long as the main core value is being a learner-centered institution, everything else will follow. Everything here exists to serve the student. The main server of the student is the instructor.”
He attributes the relationship with his students as the principal reason he remained young in spirit. He considered his relationship with them to be not merely professional but personal as well. This was especially critical during the late 70s and early 80s when the college fell under hard financial times. Due to his respect and desire to help his students, he taught several sections for no pay during this time.
Cecil Community College, as it was known then, was still formulating its reputation as it was not held in high regard within the community. Professors like Dr. Bell proved critical to turning the perception of the college into one of renown higher education.
“Cecil College now has a top-notch faculty bar none, enabling the college to earn a reputation of being an institution where people desire to go rather than one of last resort,” said Dr. Bell, who was the English Department Chair for more than 20 years. Helping with the reputation was the growth of the North East Campus and Elkton Station. With the facilities in place, Cecil College’s academic programs have been able to keep pace with emerging employment needs and technologies.
Joining Dr. Bell in creating the institution’s reputation were Bill Short, Carolyn Farkus, Sandy Fabella, Ed Boas, Dennis Fabella, and many others. According to Dr. Bell, Short had a work ethic second to none. He had an enormous workload which he matched with incredible energy. Boas was loved by his students and voted “Teacher of the Year” so many times that the award was eventually ended.
“I’ve got a lot of different proud moments, but I think it’s having put in 30 plus years of solid academic work, and having been recognized for that by the faculty at the end. That was very meaningful for me,” said Dr. Bell. “Regarding my work experience, I thrived on it and enjoyed it. If it had been anything less than a joy, I would never have stayed. If it had never been a challenge, exciting and interesting; if I never had colleagues who were fine people, I wouldn’t have stayed. I enjoyed my existence here immensely.”