Sherry Bell began her career in education in 1979 as a special education resource teacher serving students with mild to moderate disabilities in a K–8 school in Knox County, Tennessee. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1979 with concentrations in special education, elementary education, and library science. During her five years as a resource teacher, she gained experience and expertise in serving students who have been less than successful in general education placements and with students of varying ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
While teaching, Dr. Bell earned a master’s degree from the University of Tennessee in educational psychology, focusing primarily on learning theory and classroom management. She earned a PhD in education in 1990 with a concentration in school psychology and emphasis on instruction and consultation.
Since 1990, Sherry has worked as a school psychologist in a variety of settings, providing direct assessment and consultation services. Beginning in 1995, she served as an adjunct instructor for the special education program at UT. In 2000, she was appointed as assistant professor in special education. She was promoted to associate professor in 2006 and served for several years as instructional team leader for the K–12 Modified/Comprehensive Special Education program.
Promoted to the rank of professor in 2012, she served as head of the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, which houses most of UT’s primary teacher preparation programs, until 2021. In 2021, Bell became the Director of Literacy Initiatives for the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.