Manchester man is humanities teacher of the year
MANCHESTER — Wayne Bell, a teacher at Mount Anthony Union Middle School in Bennington and vice-chairman of the Manchester Select Board, has been named this year’s humanities educator of the year by the Vermont Humanities Council.
Bell, the 11th recipient of the Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award and the first middle school teacher to be honored, will be presented the award and a $1,000 check on Nov. 16 at the University of Vermont during the humanities council’s fall conference.
Peter Gilbert, executive director of the council, said the award is given to a teacher who “challenges and inspires their students, who opens up for them the world of ideas and who encourages in them the joy of learning.”
“The influence of such teachers on their students is immeasurable, and it never ends. In honoring one such teacher, we pay tribute to all the fine teachers in the profession in the Green Mountain State and we honor the important work they do,” Gilbert said.
In a press release from the humanities council, Bell, an English teacher at MAUMS, was praised for his dedication to the lives of his students both within and outside the classroom. Colleagues cite his professionalism, humor, compassion and innovative teaching methods as reasons his presence at the school is so highly respected.
Kevin Bisaccio, a former member of the Mount Anthony Union School Board, said Bell was unique in his “passion, work ethic and raw ability.”
“His deep commitment to the children is evident by the extraordinary bond he develops during these emotional years in a student’s life,” Bisaccio said.
John Cossa, another MAUMS teacher said Bell “truly embodies the highest commitment to service, growth, excellence, intellectual curiosity and the value of personal creative expression.”
Bell is also a team leader for Waterwheel, an after-school academic assistance program, and has taught several years of summer school English to help students progress with critical skills.
For nearly a decade, his weekly Writers Club hosted not only his middle school students, but also high-school-age former students who returned for Bell’s inspiration and encouragement. His students have participated in poetry slams, performed public readings and taken part in an annual poet’s café.
Bell produces a weekly school wellness letter that lists and reports on school events and student achievements. He also coordinates the school’s Caring Teachers Community Fund, which provides outreach to school community members who are celebrating or in need of condolence.
Bisaccio also noted that Bell makes personal connections in times of need.
“Wayne is the one to attend every funeral, visit every hospital, attend every court hearing and be at the sporting event when no parent is present,” said Bisaccio.
Jeremiah Evarts, a friend who said he has seen Bell go out of his way to support students or colleagues, said Bell was a “go-to guy” on whom students, parents and teachers relay for guidance.
The Vermont Humanities Council created the Swenson award in 2003 to recognize a Vermont educator on an annual basis and to honor Victor R. Swenson, the Council’s first executive director. The award is given to a Vermont educator in grades 6 through 12 who exemplifies excellence in the teaching of the humanities.
For more information about the award, contact the Vermont Humanities Council by email at email@example.com or call them at 262-2626 or visit the website at vermonthumanities.org.