Bell reflects on becoming a veteran teacher


Bell helps sophomore Noah Lehman to understand a central concept of unit. (Photo Sam Sampson)

  Longtime Sheridan chemistry teacher Rhonda Bell has been teaching for the last thirty-two years, with the first ten in Virginia right outside of Washington D.C. and the last twenty-two being in Sheridan. With so many years of teaching, one might think she always wanted to be a teacher or wanted to do something similar but that assumption could not be more wrong.

 However, how she came to be a teacher is only one part of her interesting life. In her early years, Bell was born in Germany and grew up in Europe because of her military family lifestyle, where she moved to wherever her dad was being stationed. On average, she moved around every three years with only being in the states for grades 8th, 9th, and 10th when she was in California. After moving out of the states again she spent her junior year of high school in a boarding school in Switzerland after her dad was sent to the Vietnam War and her mom went home to Vienna, Austria. Her favorite part of Switzerland was getting to go skiing almost every weekend during winter. After her junior year, she went to finish her high school career in Italy because her Dad was stationed there after he was done in Vietnam.

  Leaving her high school years in the past Bell originally started out wanting to be a veterinarian after finding a passion for animals in California. While Bell lived in California, she had a friend who she became very close with both her and her family. They got her a horse to let her train it which sparked her interest in horses, which led to the thought of being a vet.

  Not many people can stay in the same field of work, let alone the same job, without enjoying what they do. This is why Bell changed professions several times in her early years in the working world. Bell then proceeded to go to college to become what she thought was her dream job but soon realized that she loved seeing healthy animals and was not happy being around the sick and wounded.

  When she came to the conclusion that she did not want to be a vet anymore, she realized how enjoyable all of the chemistry classes were that she took on the road to becoming a vet. She also knew that chemistry was more marketable than some of her other options. Selling chemicals in the private industry is what she mostly pursued while also doing other jobs like managing a clean room. Along with too much traveling, this part of the chemistry world was not making her happy so she wanted to make another profession change to find something more enjoyable.

  After quitting the private industry, Bell went to visit an old friend of hers who had chosen to become a teacher. She went into her classroom to watch and had the realization that teaching was something truly delightful. The amount of fun she could have while teaching others is one of the reasons why it’s been so entertaining for her. as well. Bell knew what she wanted to do from there on.

  When she was younger, Bell had never thought she would have ever wanted to be a teacher, even though as she grew up, others had told her she would make a good one. She went into teaching after her visit and loved it because of all the excitement and new experiences she could have with it.

  Bell started off her new career teaching both chemistry and biology, but after twelve years, she moved strictly to teaching chemistry. After she started teaching, she made her own program, which she calls Chez Chem and has been following it ever since and even put videos to go along with it. It has worked extremely well for her as she has earned national awards for her teaching over the years.

  Even through several decades, Bell has never lost her love for teaching. Teaching at Sheridan has been a big part of that. “Sheridan has been a great place to teach,” said Bell. “The students are always engaged in their learning.” She also feels that one of the reasons why she has always enjoyed teaching is because of her outlook on the students. She always comes to class with a positive attitude and looks at every student as a whole person rather than just a student she needs to teach.

  While working with animals as a profession is purely in the past for Bell, her passion for them is far from being in the rearview mirror. Bell moved to Sheridan so that she could have animals in her backyard, and she did just that: she one goat, two horses, two dogs, one cat, and six guinea hens currently.

  “I plan to retire after the 2018-2019 school year because I can,” said Bell. After she retires she plans to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of her labors with all of her animals here in Sheridan.