Randolph High School teacher shares special bond with students on Teacher Appreciation Week

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, many individuals have taken to social media to show their appreciation for educators all across the country.

Chef Michael Bell, a culinary arts teacher at Randolph High School in Philadelphia, like many, is delivering his lesson plan virtually amid COVID-19.

Chef Michael Bell with some of his culinary arts students at Randolph High School in Philadelphia.

Bell says some of the obstacles that he and his students face are similar across the board to so many other teachers and students.

"My computer crashed after a Google Meet with some of my students," said Bell. "So it's difficult to get all the kids on to all the platforms because everybody's using their cellphones, computers, or the internet and it's getting overworked."

Despite some technical obstacles, Bell shares a special connection with his culinary arts students. One of those students is Sara Hill, a third-year culinary arts senior who was recently awarded a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to Monroe College for Culinary Arts.

"Chef Bell is a great teacher and great role model," said Hill. "He has given me a lot of opportunities and opened up many doors for me."

Hill says outside of culinary arts, Bell has taught her many things about life that have helped her grow.

While cooking from home can create challenges for some students, Bell introduced a fun way to engage his students.

"One of the things that I do is, I don't call my lessons 'assignments' or 'activities' I call them 'challenges,'" said Bell. "I challenge my students to come up with different ideas that we can use and have a little fun together."

Bell says one of these examples was a refrigerator challenge. "The task is to take leftovers or things in cans that somebody else had and turn it into a meal."

During difficult times like those faced in society with the coronavirus pandemic, Bell says his students are what helps keep him going.

"A lot of times when these students are moving off to graduation, not only does it become sad for me but it becomes sad for them because we become family," said Bell.

Bell says, Hill shared a post on Instagram of how she thought Bell was her best friend.

"To me, that's what keeps me coming back, I took that and posted it to my Facebook and said one sentence: 'this is why I teach' because I don't do it for me anymore, it's for the youngsters."
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