OKOLONA – Over his 15 years as a teacher, Larry Bell had one student who made it to the NBA and made a million dollars and 17 who used their education to become millionaires.
“Do the math,” said Bell. “You are much more likely to become a millionaire by studying hard and working hard than you are playing professional basketball.”
Bell was in Okolona recently speaking to students at the elementary school and high school. He also held a special session with Okolona teachers that evening.
A 25-year veteran in education, Bell was nominated for the National Agnes Mayer Outstanding Teacher Award and received a $556,000 federal grant to implements his methods in under-performing schools across the country.
He is best known for teaching at Gar-Field High School, a suburban Washington, D.C. school with over 3,000 students speaking 36 different languages. Bell was recognized for his innovative classroom strategies that allowed his so called “Tough Kids” as well as his “Gifted and Talented” to excel.
“Ladies and gentlemen, learn to read and read a lot,” Bell told Okolona High School students. “Pay attention in class and learn how to ask the right questions.
“I have found this to be true on just about every occasion,” he added. “Students who read 1,000 books before they graduate high school grow up to be millionaires.”
Bell pointed out it is not reading 1,000 books that makes you rich, it is all that students learn from reading that gives them the skills to advance their education, land the high-paying job and enjoy life to the fullest.
Bell is probably best known for his “12 Powerful Word.” Bell said these words are found on virtually every test and students who learn to use them correctly, score better on standardized tests.
Bell also presented his method for motivating students to write and techniques that enhance math skills.
Okolona High School Principal Christopher Hill said he was familiar with Bell’s teaching method and was impressed with the way he captured students’ attention.
“He talked repeatedly about being accountable for your own education and working toward goals,” said Hill. “He also motivated kids to be servants and help their classmates be better students.”
Hill said Bell also puts a lot of responsibility for a student’s success on teachers.
“He stresses there are no students who can not learn and teachers must not give up on students who don’t fit the mold,” said Hill. “He also motivates teachers to go the extra mile and that is so important in today’s classroom.”
Bell has been the keynote speaker at many conferences across the country such as the National ASCD Conference, the National Association of Multicultural Education Conference, numerous state NEA affiliates and hundreds of local and regional conferences.
This was not Bell’s first trip to Chickasaw County. He spoke to teachers from Houston and Houlka in a day-long staff development seminar prior to the start of school this fall.
12 Powerful Word
These words are found on virtually every standardized test and students who know their meaning score better on those tests.