Andrew Bell was my year coordinator for my time at Carine SHS. He is a clever and principled person with a rare degree of passion for education. He was easily one of the most important adults in my childhood!
Andrew is an incredible educator and mentor! He is the only teacher I remember from my entire education, I wouldn't be the man I am today or at the point in my career I am without his guidance through my adolescent schooling years.
Andrew Bell, he was my English and Society and Environment teacher through high school. But more than that, I wouldn't be the man I am today without the guidance from him! Still to this day 12 years later and I still sing his praises when people ask me my favourite teacher or someone who impacted my life as a teenager greatly. The mentorship and guidance he gave me (as the little confused, upset and chaotic shite I was), paved my future for the best possible outcome. Due to a terrible family life as a teenager he basically became the father figure I never had as a young, impressionable and confused teen. He's Loyal, compassionate, committed and understanding, combined with a wealth of knowledge, he is definitely THE man I'd recommend! Thanks for this man are never enough for the help he gave me, it led me to becoming a member of the Royal Australian Navy, serving this country as he once taught me that serving others is the greatest reward in life.
To me, this is;
The Man, The Myth, The bloody Legend!
Mr Andrew Bell’s insights & skills are second to none. He is a very special teacher—with an extraordinary ability to help struggling kids flourish. How do I know this? I am one of the many struggling kids Mr Bell helped in High School. Indeed, had it not been for Mr Bell, I would not have gone to university, nor would I have become a teacher.
Mr Bell, my teacher
My schooling in Australia was difficult. In fact, it was something of a crucible. Of course, I experienced my fair share of teenage angst; but this was compounded many times over by various factors outside of my control. On an academic level, my issues began when I was unceremoniously thrown into a class of Year 7s. This occurred shortly after we arrived in Australia from war-ravaged Afghanistan. I spoke little-to-no English. As you can imagine, my first English spelling test did not go well. Indeed, I failed spectacularly and publicly.
I wish I could say that the other kids came up to me and said, ‘Akram, don’t worry, you’ll get better’. Instead, I was bullied by a handful of kids for being stupid. After many repeated bouts of this treatment, I stopped defending myself against the charge and internally conceded, ‘Hmmmm, maybe there’s some truth to what they say … maybe I am stupid’. Accordingly, I lived down to the expectation of my vocal bullies and the silent majority.
Alongside these academic issues, I faced the emotionally thorny problem of finding a comfortable sense of place and identity in my school (and more generally in Australia). I suppose it did not help that I was visibly different – a shy, small and brown-skinned little boy.
Nor did it help that the horrific events of September 11 occurred at a time when I was the only Afghan kid in my school. I distinctly remember going to school the day after September 11. I was in Year 9. Even as a child, I could sense some social tectonic plated had shifted. I went from merely being different in an inferior way – something to be tolerated – to being different in an undesirable and dangerous way. After this, the bullying took on a physical and
How I did I respond? In a pretty predictable sort of way: I withdrew into myself. I can still viscerally recall my isolation and the feeling of a very bleak and empty future awaiting me.
As a mentor/father figure, he did something very profound: he noticed me, acknowledged me, and gave me respect and dignity. And he took me under his wing by giving up his own free time to teach me history, a subject he knew I would love (even before, I suppose, I did). It is only now, with much older eyes, that I realise that he taught me so much more than (Russian!) history. Firstly, he used history as a means of teaching me English; not just vocabulary and correct formal grammar but how to articulate myself, to be persuasive, to tell stories and express what I felt – no small feat for a teenage boy.
Secondly, he used these sessions to implicitly teach me what it means to be a decent young man. Of course, this lesson was manifest simply in who he was and is. I have tried to model his behaviour ever since.
Thirdly, not only did Mr Bell give me knowledge but also the opportunity to share it with my fellow classmates. In teaching them what Mr Bell had taught me – through these minuscule acts of service – I grew as a person. Looking back, I cannot overstate the importance of these small acts of giving for my personal development. Through them, I realised that I am valued and valuable as a human being because I can give value to others in my school community.
Nourished by this insight, I started earnestly applying myself academically and I also found my voice. I shared my story with my fellow classmates, from how we came to Australia to what it was like living in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Simply put, I started to humanise myself to my classmates.
In sum, I started to live up to Mr Bell’s expectations. As a result, I went from struggling academically to being the top university entrant of my school; and I changed from being a shy, withdrawn little boy to become a school leader, as Head Boy in 2005.
Mr Bell also gave me another thing: he infected me with a love of learning. He helped me realise that knowledge could be used to help others, and that the more I knew, the more I could help. And this lesson still drives my behaviours. If it were not so, I would not have spent the last fourteen years of my life at university!