New Principal Ben Bell

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Ben Bell

When Ben Bell first began his job search, it didn’t take him long to fall in love with Ashland High School. After spending the past six years as assistant principal at Granite Hills High School, near LA, Bell has taken over the reins of Ashland High School as Principal this fall. He succeeds Samuel Bogdanove who spent the year as interim principal after Erica Bare’s departure in 2018. Bell brings a new perspective to a school that has seen a large amount of administrative turnover recently. He believes in the power of a good teacher and knows how important high school can be. 

“High school is such a great place because it’s a wonderful opportunity for students to explore. As they explore and challenge themselves, school should also be a safe place to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. So I believe that positive and supportive school environments are the best places to foster learning. I believe that students should be held to a high standard and that they should receive constructive, supportive feedback when a mistake is made so that they know how to improve.” 

Becoming principal has been a long journey for Bell, one that started back in his own high school days. Although he didn’t know it then, by joining a tutoring program called AVID, he was laying the groundwork for his future. Though he started college as a biology major, two incredible history professors inspired a love of history and reminded him of the experience he’d had with AVID. Bell realized that by teaching he could share his passion for history with others. As he began to teach, he found that even stronger than his love of history was his love of helping and connecting with kids. After six years as a teacher, Bell made the decision to move into administration, realizing that he would be able to have an even bigger impact on kids’ lives. 

The transition from one school to another is never easy, but COVID-19 is making it even more challenging. In the time he would usually be spending getting settled in and acquainted with the culture of the school, he has also had to get the school prepared for anything the pandemic throws at him. Bell has planned for scenarios ranging from a normal school opening to a complete semester of online classes. No matter the challenges, Bell is excited to be here. 

“The town and the school were very impressive. The passion and interest I felt from the teachers and staff was inspiring. I knew this was exactly the kind of school I had been looking for.” 

While Bell’s interest in AHS was growing, his family’s pull to our town was getting stronger as well. Bell and his family, his wife, his 9-year-old daughter, and his 5-year-old son, love the outdoors and were drawn by Ashland’s excess of physical opportunities. Ashland will be a significant change in scenery for Bell and his family who are used to a desert environment that is so different from the Rogue Valley’s abundant trees and mountains, and Bell felt that Ashland would be a perfect spot to raise his kids and continue his hobbies of mountain biking and camping. 

Still, it’s a community struggling with COVID-19 and the restrictions it brings, and also one coping with the effects of the murder of George Floyd. Bell hopes that he can help return a sense of normalcy, while listening to the concerns of students. 

 “I think it’s important to look critically at our school and make sure that there are no barriers for any student to participate in any program or activity. Every AHS student is equally important and I fully expect that every student has an equal opportunity to maximize their learning outcomes regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or any other classification. I know that the staff at AHS supports that as well.” 

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