Mrs. Cindy Bell may be retiring from teaching lower school at St. John’s, but she leaves a lasting legacy from her time here since 1996. Her experience, knowledge, dedication and presence will surely be missed. Read about Mrs. Bell’s experiences working at St. John’s.
On behalf of the entire St. John’s community, may you have a long, happy and healthy retirement!
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in California, and call that home, though I lived in Oregon, North Carolina, and Maryland by Middle School age. In 9th grade, my family moved to Ankara, Turkey, where my dad worked for the Agency for International Development (AID), so I graduated from George C. Marshall Regional High School, which was equivalent to a DODEA school in the 1960’s. I lived in Turkey for 4 years. It was a fabulous experience. I spent a summer in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1974, where my Dad was working. I taught English and was a life guard at the American Embassy swimming pool. I am thankful that I was able to travel to several different parts of Afghanistan before the Russian invasion.
How long have you been working at St. John’s School?
Since August 1996
And what is your position?
Teacher 4th grade – 1996 to 1998
6th grade – 1998 to 2005
4th grade – 2005 to 2016
What motivated you to become a teacher at SJS?
I had taught bilingual Headstart and was a K-12 substitute teacher in California for many years. My husband is a boat builder and we have lived on our sailboats for 30 years. We departed California in 1993 and were doing a partial circumnavigation of the Pacific when we stopped in Guam. We decided to stay here when we were able to get jobs. A long time friend had been teaching at St. Johns and she introduced me to Mel Santos. The rest is history.
You started teaching at St. John’s 20 years ago. What has changed since then?
The Lower School has changed since the original building I taught in was destroyed by Typhoon Paka my second year here. The population has decreased and so has the class size, which makes an optimal teaching situation. Of course the technology has increased with each new innovation that becomes available.
Aside from being a 4th grade teacher, what other activities are you involved in?
I am very involved in Marianas Yacht Club as a board member and volunteer. I love sailing. My children never lived ashore until they went to college! When we departed San Francisco in our 45 foot sailboat, which my husband built, our daughter was 15 and our son was 8. We sailed across the South Pacific (Mexico, the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, Society Islands, Cook Islands, American Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Marianas) . My twin granddaughters (almost 6 years old) keep me very busy every summer.
What is it about your job that you love the most?
I love getting to know the students and seeing the changes they go through from the beginning of the year to the end. There is always a big change after Christmas break. In 4th grade, they really change from being little kids to being self-confident and self-reliant students.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I guess that I am Old School. I want students to get excited about learning, especially about US Geography. But I also want them to learn how to find information in print resources, not just on the internet. Sharing real life experiences and learning that people live in different ways is important in expanding students horizons.
What is unique about yourself – something that shapes the learning experience for your students?
Being organized and consistent in expectations is important. Mrs. Ila Pavesic was my role model in helping students learn to be organized in their school work. I hope that the habits they learn in 4th grade will stay with them and serve them well through their years at St. Johns.
What are your fondest memories working at St. John’s School?
The colleagues I have worked with fill my memories. We have been through a lot together and supported and learned from each other. “It takes a village” is true of how people at St. Johns work together.
What do you want students to gain from having known you?
Be organized. I hope that knowing someone who has sailed across the ocean has been an inspiration. Be open to new experiences.
Anything else you would like to add?
“Mrs. Bell does not like chocolate.”