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Principal explains value of building relationships with low-income students

Written by Keira McGuire | Jun 26, 2016 3:46 PM

(Carlisle) -- Jeff Bell remembers growing up in poverty. His mom was a single parent. They depended government assistance and lived in government housing. Bell also remembers how it felt to have people invest in him to raise him out of poverty.

Bell says he had mentors who paid for his schooling and acted as positive role models in his life. It's because of this past that he chose to get into the field of education. Today Bell is the principal at Bellaire Elementary in Carlisle. He now works with teachers in the district on how to relate to kids living in poverty.

Bell says relationships are important to kids living in poverty and they're based on respect. He says in the middle class - respect is sometimes automatic based on someone's title. In poverty, he says respect must be earned. He teaches teachers to get to know the students. To talk to them about life and encourage them to open up. Because, according to Bell, you could be the greatest teacher in the world but if your student doesn't respect you, they will not learn.

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