Ms. Bell

Ms. Bell

I was born in Michigan but my family moved to Los Angeles when I was very young. I attended public school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, as well as California public universities.

I’ve been a teacher of the visually impaired at Van Ness for about 8 years. But most of my career has been in music and as such, I infuse a strong musical background into my teaching. I work with children in 3rd -5th grade and I teach all academic subjects, including literacy, mathematics, the braille code and the expanded core curriculum for students with visual impairments.

Before becoming a teacher of the blind, I was a professional singer, conductor and voice teacher. I began to become involved in the field of visual impairments in the late 90s, when I was hired as Music Director of Children’s Choral Programs for the Braille Institute. I recruited for, and implemented the organization’s first visually impaired children’s choir program and after 10 years decided to pursue my special education credential in visual impairments.

The circumstances that lead me to eventually become a teacher of the blind make perfect sense to me. Back when I was a freshman in college and a tour guide at Universal Studios during the summer, I was driving to work and, for some odd reason took a detour down a grassy lane that ended up in front of the Braille Institute Youth Center. I had a moment and exclaimed out loud, “I’d really like to work with children who are blind.” The moment passed, and I continued with school and career. Fast forward to years later where my interview for Choral Director at the Braille Institute took place in the very same building.

Here are a few tidbits: I’m a city girl and I love a lot of cities. San Francisco is one of my favorites. Such an amazing sight as you’re driving over the Oakland Bridge at night and seeing the city lit up. I have family there, and it’s a great place to hang out, with so many views as well as amazing food! It’s also an animal-lover’s heaven. My favorite quote is, “The Truth Shall Set you Free,” It covers every aspect of life. I often said it to my own children and my students know it well. One of my favorite historical figures, (and who also wrote a diary that shaped me as a child) is Anne Frank. I was taken by a child with so much courage who was able to express herself so eloquently.

Being a teacher of the blind gives me an incredible sense of purpose and gratitude. My students have given me a greater capacity to love and care for others. Most of them don’t have any sight, so their first impressions of others are based on words and actions. Their courage inspires me everyday and it is an honor to know them and their families.

I choose to work at Van Ness because it is one of the few schools that recognizes that teaching students who are visually impaired is a multi-faceted endeavor that goes far beyond academics. I love the students at Van Ness. They are learning that a successful life includes not only knowledge and drive, but inclusion and compassion as well.