“I think there was always the thought that at some point I wanted to become an attorney,” says Bell. “Originally, however, my plan was to teach and become a school principal like my dad. Going into law was something that I planned to do later. When I attended college, along with my studies in education I also became interested in communications and earned my first degree, a Bachelor of Arts in that. Upon graduating I actually started law school but then decided to go for my master’s degree in business. Once I earned that degree I began teaching.”
Bell taught business courses at several local colleges over the next few years and then Career Technical Education at a middle school in Montgomery, Alabama. With a rare determination and almost unimaginable energy, he somehow was able to not only complete his doctorate in education, but also graduated law school virtually simultaneously all the while teaching.
A man of many talents and interests, somewhere along the line Bell added the title of associate pastor to his already impressive list of achievements. Bell, a self-taught pianist, has served as a worship pastor for over two decades, serving churches throughout Birmingham. Currently, he serves as an associate pastor at both the Tabernacle of Faith Church and First Baptist Church of ACIPCO. His thirst for knowledge and esteem for education was something that Bell credits his parents, particularly his father, for instilling in him.
“My father was an educator for about 32 years,” says Bell, “approximately 27 of those he served as principal at both elementary and middle schools. It impressed me how people looked up to him, respected him. He was a mentor. He was a Boy Scout master for probably two decades, always involved in some type of mentorship.”
In fact, both his parents were professionals. Bell’s mother was a pediatric nurse for more than 40 years. “She worked right up until the time my dad had to go on dialysis,” he says. “She retired so she could take care of him.”
Obviously, education was a top priority in the Bell household. “My father was the first in his family to graduate college,” says Bell. “He served in the Korean War in the Air Force as an aircraft hydraulic mechanic. He joined the military right out of high school, serving four years of active duty followed by four more in the reserves.
“My parents’ example along with being raised with the discipline of a military family has played a role in motivating me,” he says. “It’s always been in the back of my head, ‘keep going, keep improving.’”