Sherry Mee Bell is professor emerita in UT’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences (CEHHS). A Knoxville native, her blood runs orange as she and her four siblings hold nine degrees from UT and her four adult children have earned six UT degrees among them. A Knoxville native, Bell maintains a long history of service in community-oriented roles.
Bell is a first-generation college student who earned a bachelor’s degree in education, with concentrations in special education, elementary education, and library science, from UT in 1979. She began her professional career as a special education resource teacher, serving students with mild to moderate disabilities in a Knox County Title I school. While teaching, Bell earned a master’s degree in educational psychology from UT, focusing primarily on learning theory and classroom management. Following a brief period as a stay-at-home mom, Bell returned to UT; she earned a PhD in school psychology in 1990.
Since 1990, Bell has served as a licensed school psychologist in various settings. In 1995, she was recruited to serve as an adjunct instructor in special education at UT. Bell was then appointed as a tenure track assistant professor in special education and elementary education. She was promoted to associate professor in 2006 and served for several years as special education program leader. After being promoted to the rank of professor, Bell served as head of the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education from 2012 until 2021. Bell became the Director of Literacy Initiatives for CEHHS in 2021, serving until she retired in 2022.
Examples of Bell’s institutional service at UT include serving as a key member of the student disability services appeals committee for more than 20 years and as acting dean of the CEHHS in 2018. Most recently, Bell’s efforts have been critical to establishing the Tennessee Reading Research Center funded by the Tennessee Department of Education and housed at UT. Bell has a collaborative history with local school districts and agencies, such as the Greater Tennessee Valley Boys and Girls Club, to provide educational opportunities. Bell has authored more than 70 scholarly journal articles, co-authored numerous books, and made over 200 scholarly presentations; she routinely presents at annual conferences of such professional associations as International Dyslexia Association, National Association of School Psychologists, and American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. Bell is the recipient of numerous CEHHS awards; most recently, she was inducted into the CEHHS Educator’s Hall of Honor in March 2023.