Courtney Bell2015 Rising Alumni

Courtney Bell photo

Courtney Bell’s passion for students whom she proudly calls her “scholars” is irrepressible. As the co-curriculum developer for Minneapolis Public Schools’ African American history program, she teaches social studies while passing on the wisdom of elders she considers mentors and guides such as Professor Mahmoud El-Kati and Nelson Mandela. Outside of the classroom, Courtney is involved with Threads for Teens, an organization that coordinates clothing and shoe drives to benefit adolescents in need, helps out with the North High School cheer leading squad and co-facilitates the InnerG Youth Foundation, an after-school program at North High that focuses on social justice.


Social Studies Educator
North Academy of Arts and Communication, Minneapolis Public Schools

CEHD Degree

M.Ed., Social Studies Education

How do others describe you? How do you describe yourself?

I am described by others as a very caring, compassionate, passionate, vibrant, extroverted, intellectual, emotionally intelligent, driven, ambitious, resilient, spiritual, strong, morally sound, fair, multi-talented, loving, lovable, expressive person.

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

I believe that the courses and curriculum of my program prepared me greatly for teaching in Minneapolis Public Schools. I learned the most from my social studies methods courses, and applying my learned knowledge from these courses makes for culturally relevant and engaging pedagogy in my classrooms. My scholars are all one step closer to being experts in Socratic seminars, fish-bowl discussions, critical analysis, film analysis, debate, and jig-saw presentations.

What gets you excited about work?

Having the opportunity to see my scholars and to be apart of their lives everyday gets me excited for work. I truly love each and every one of my 98 scholars, and they all know it. I am still in disbelief that I have the privilege to sit in a former classroom of mine as a teacher at North High School. North Minneapolis is my village, my community, my home and North High School is an extension of that. I was voted most school spirit for the class of 2007, and my Polar pride has only increased as an alumnus. I am proud to teach my Polar cubs and to have a chance to impact their bright futures everyday.

What professor(s) or course(s) were most influential during your time in the College of Education & Human Development (CEHD)?

The most influential professor during my graduate program was definitely Dr. J.B. Mayo. J.B. created a safe space for me in the classroom that truly made me feel comfortable speaking my truth. I was able to be myself in his courses without hesitation. J.B. also created a space where intense and uncomfortable conversations were promoted for growth. J.B. once told my cohort that neutrality wasn't neutral. I will never forget those words as they mean the world to me.

If you could have coffee with anyone from history, who would it be?

If I could have coffee with anyone from history it would be James Baldwin, hands down. I would love to hear him recite his essay "A Talk To Teachers" and to explain his thoughts that inspired this piece. He was an extremely intelligent man and his mentality and words greatly influence my moral and social consciousness.

What's a good book you'd recommend to others?

I would recommend the book Mandela's Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage written by Richard Stengel. Nelson Mandela is one of my biggest inspirations, and I aspire to lead as softly but with as much force and righteousness as he did.