Southern High School’s art department chair Michael Bell was honored with a national award at a ceremony in New York on Friday.
Bell was named a recipient of the William U. Harris Award of Excellence presented by the College Board. According to an announcement, the award honors those who demonstrate a commitment to serve and inspire young people; are dedicated to mentoring and supporting fellow educators; and show a strength and resolve to effect change.
“When I think of those educators who consistently perform on an exceptional level in the classroom and overall school community, Michael Bell is always at the top of the list,” said schools Superintendent Kevin Maxwell in a statement. “He has been a major influence on the overall visual arts education program for our entire county.”
Bell was named the 2004 Anne Arundel County Teacher of the Year and is well known for many major contributions to the school system.
According to a release, when Bell first embarked upon creating Southern High School’s ArtQuest and the county’s Gifted Visual Arts Program, he had no specific models to build on. Motivated by his simple passion for arts education, Bell drew from his experiences and created a countywide visual arts community that caters to the needs of individual students, cultivates their creativity, and encourages them to realize the power of art beyond the classroom.
Bell’s guidance has led to a four-year run of student winners of the National Art Education Association’s Rising Star Award. The award is given annually to only one deserving student artist and opens the doors to hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship offers
"Winning this prestigious national award is so inspiring, and I'm honored to receive it alongside Dr. Maxwell and my principal, Marc Procaccini. It's also a tremendous honor to be joining the elite company of former winners like our former State Superintendent Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick,” Bell said. “It's a big testament to the hard work and dedication that's going on with our kids daily at Southern High and is a huge endorsement for the unparalleled importance of a strong visual arts education, which Dr. Maxwell passionately supports."