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Starr’s Mill’s Bell named 2024 Fayette County Teacher of the Year

Victory bells are ringing for the Panthers. Starr’s Mill High engineering and computer science teacher Rob Bell was named the 2024 Fayette County Teacher of the Year at the annual awards ceremony on April 11.

In his acceptance speech, Bell shared his journey to the classroom that was filled with detours and dead end majors. He struggled to decide what he wanted to do with his life until his grandmother reminded him how much he enjoyed working with children as a summer camp counselor.

“Bang, light bulb moment. I have worked every summer teaching and I have loved it, and just like that, I had my mission to go with my goal,” he remembered. “I am doing what I was meant to do and, cliche as it may be, understanding that phrase about finding something to do that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

He shares his story with his third-year classes because he wants them to understand the path to your future isn’t always a straight line.

“I want them to plan and prepare. I want them to explore. I want them to get a sense of not only what they like but also what they don’t like. I want to make them uncomfortable in their learning,” said Bell. “And, yes, I want them to fail. I tell them they need to fail because, if they don’t make mistakes, how are they going to learn?”

Opening up about the uncertainty about one’s future has built a bond with his students.

“I share my journey so they learn and know that oftentimes the greatest learning comes after failure. I challenge all the teachers in this room to share your own failures with your students, so that you can impart to them that final, most important lesson in a place of safety and trust. After all, it’s not the falling down that matters but the getting back up.”

Bell thanked his wife and three children for their endless support every day, and he thanked the administration of Starr’s Mill and his Career & Technical Education and Center of Innovation colleagues for the pleasure of working with them over the last 20 years.

“You all have made me a better educator.”

The three finalists, Bell along with Dr. Brian Harmon of Fayette County High and Brandi Thornton of Peachtree City Elementary, were observed in their classrooms and interviewed by the judging panel, which consisted of two retired educators and last year’s county winner, Michelle Shaw of Spring Hill Elementary. The teacher with the highest combined judges’ score was named the 2024 Fayette County Teacher of the Year.


Posted 4/12/2024