New Schools for Baton Rouge is proud to highlight educators and partners that work to ensure every child in Baton Rouge has access to high-quality education.
In this educator spotlight, we profile Courtney Bell, Principal at Capitol High School. Courtney shares strategies for creating an engaging and nurturing learning environment to unlock her students’ full potential.
What drew you to education?
I actually vowed to never be a teacher. My grandmother taught middle school, and at the collegiate level, I dreamed of working at the CDC and owning a nonprofit that catered to those struggling with housing insecurity. I was working for a financial literacy nonprofit that serviced single mothers and those transitioning out of prison when I fell in love with the teen programming and working with their children. That coupled with my love for college math tutoring at LSU offered up a perfect partnership between a natural skill (math) and a new love (middle school students) in the form of a middle and high school math teacher.
How do you celebrate Black Excellence in the classroom?
We celebrate Black Excellence in the classroom, in the hallways, in the front office, on the bus! How we love, how we speak love, how we partner with the community, how we celebrate the small wins and the big wins – that’s black excellence. From Brotherhood and Sisterhood circles, to morning announcements, to Motherland and Melanin Mondays, to Black Stats in senior math, and Black Mental Health in JAG. Our goal is to cultivate and nurture productive citizens with healthy self-images which is only possible through the celebration of their blackness and excellence at school.
What inspires you on a daily basis about education in Baton Rouge?
My love for Baton Rouge. I am Baton Rouge, I am from Baton Rouge. My grandparents are from Baton Rouge and are Black History in Baton Rouge. First Black Girl Scout Troop, one of the First Black Real Estate Brokers, First Black man to serve on the Planning and Zoning Commission, on the BREC Commission, my grandmother sat on the Zoo Commission Board, they were founding members of the Krewe of Camelot here in Baton Rouge. It is my blood, it is my city, it is my legacy – it is my grandparents’ legacy. And the wealth of knowledge and talent that exists here ready to be unearthed is astounding. I saw my grandparent’s generation do the work and make lasting change. It is now time for me to invest in the community and in students via the dismantling of unjust education systems and inspire the same level of change.
What makes you hopeful about the future?
My kids. The qualitative and quantitative outcomes of the work we are doing every day at Capitol. The marrying of love and joy with accountability and responsibility. The leadership development and growth mindsets of my staff and of kids. Their constant shift from what’s impossible to what’s possible, and from deflated to hopeful is what makes me excited about the future.