Dr. Brian Bell is the new director of schools for the Alcoa City Schools System.
The Alcoa School Board made it official Tuesday night, April 19, naming Bell to replace retiring director Tom Shamblin beginning July 1.
Bell, the current assistant schools director for Blount County Schools, said he was honored and humbled by the board’s unanimous 5-0 decision. “Thank you for this opportunity,” he said during the meeting.
Following the standing room only meeting in the conference room at the Alcoa City School Board, Bell said he was extremely gratified. “I’m so excited to get started. I’m looking forward to working with the faculty. I have a vision I want to share with the faculty and staff,” he said.
Bell praised the work of outgoing schools director Tom Shamblin and the board and faculty of the system. “Alcoa is a very good school system. My vision is for the Alcoa City Schools to become exceptional. I want Alcoa to be excellent in every facet, whether it be in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities or in how we deal with parents and the community,” he said. “I want us to be excellent.”
Before the board voted, chair Steve Marsh reviewed the process that brought them to the vote Tuesday. Initially there were 28 candidates who were reviewed by the Tennessee School Board Association, which brought forward five names. In March, the board chose two people - Bell and John Sevier Elementary School principal Rick Wilson - as finalists. In that round, Bell received five votes and Wilson received four.
“Rick Wilson withdrew his name from consideration,” said Marsh.
Board member Mickey McClurg made the motion to elect Bell by acclamation and board member Charles Cameron seconded the motion. Each of the board members voted “yes” to electing Bell as the new school system director. The board also authorized Marsh to negotiate a contract with Bell.
The board members praised Bell for his experience, knowledge and enthusiasm.
“What set him apart was that he has been involved in running all aspects of a school system,” said Marsh. “I think everything worked out, and we’re real pleased.”
Board member Johnelle Jackson said Bell is very energetic and that was one of the qualities that set him apart. “I think he comes to us with a variety of experiences and that will be beneficial,” she said.
Cameron said Bell has excellent people skills and a wide variety of experience gained from the time he was a teacher to his time as an assistant schools director. “He has experience in the whole gamut. He’s young, and he’ll do a good job,” Cameron said.
McClurg echoed Cameron. “One of the things that set him apart was his all-around experience. He’s been in the classroom, and he’s built the classroom,” McClurg said. “The other thing I like is he has a heart for kids, and that’s the number one thing you have to have. He’ll do a wonderful job.”
Board member Julie Rochelle praised Bell. “Brian knows our community. He’s been here long enough and knows all the wonderful things it provides to the children,” she said.
Rochelle said many of the staff also know Bell because he teaches masters level classes at Lincoln Memorial University. “He has a lot of the staff at LMU, and they’re really excited about this move,” she said.
Shamblin praised Bell for the experience working for five different directors of schools throughout his career. “You don’t work with the directors of school that he has without learning what you can utilize when your time comes, and his time is now,” Shamblin said. “He’s got a skill bank a lot of candidates don’t have. All five candidates did a good job but during the interviews, as did Brian. I’m pleased with how it turned out.”
Blount County School Board member Chris Cantrell was on hand during the meeting. “We don’t want to lose him, but you’re getting a good one,” he said. “I wish him the best. We’ve got big shoes to fill. Brian Bell is a great schools man.”