State Sen. Andy Zay, R-Huntington, recognized Cynthia Bell for the award on Tuesday, May 25.

Earlier this week, Southwood Jr./Sr. High School (SHS) teacher Cynthia Bell was presented with their 2021 Teacher of the Year Award.

State Sen. Andy Zay, R-Huntington, recognized Bell for the award on Tuesday, May 25, “because of her passion for education and for overcoming adversities this past school year.”

Principal Andrew McDaniel said he nominated Bell for the award.

“During this unique school year, many staff members have had to pitch in and help out in new ways,” said McDaniel. “Mrs. Bell exemplifies this collaborative and school-first attitude.”

McDaniel said when schedule changes had to be made shortly before the beginning of the school year, Bell “voluntarily adjusted her teaching schedule to take on different subjects to better serve the needs of students.”

“She sets a very high standard for her students, but she also helps students achieve that standard,” said McDaniel. “She regularly tutors students before school, during homeroom and at other times to make sure they fully understand the content.”

Bell is the senior class’ co-sponsor. McDaniel said Bell and the other co-sponsor were tasked with revising graduation plans and senior trip several times, “but they worked diligently to make sure our students were able to celebrate their 2020 commencement and senior trip.”

“Much of the success of these initiatives is due to Mrs. Bell’s meticulousness and willingness to work hard to give students a great opportunity,” said McDaniel. “We appreciate Mrs. Bell’s hard work to make SHS a better place.”

On Friday, May 27, Bell said she was “deeply honored” to have been selected for the award.

“It is humbling to learn that your fellow teachers, administrators and staff hold you in such high esteem,” said Bell.

Bell said she “greatly appreciated” Zay “for all of your help and support for education and educators” as a member of the Education and Career Development Committee.

Bell said during her years as a teacher she has “been influenced by wonderful teachers and professors.”

“Dr. Pat Sellers, one of my favorite professors at Purdue University, willingly opened her home to me during a pandemic to help me prepare to teach geometry,” said Bell.

Bell said she also wanted to recognize fellow SHS teachers Cathy Gohmann and Michelle Sparling for their “continued support and friendship” and Tammy Farlow, “whose patience and grace with students is a role model that I look up to and a teacher that I seek advice from in difficult situations.”

Bell said her advice for new teachers was “to plan” and “don’t hesitate to ask for advice on planning and classroom management.”

“Teaching is a wonderful career and the rewards far outweigh those of many other occupations,” said Bell.

Rob Burgess, Wabash Plain Dealer editor, may be reached by email at rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com.