Gina Bell-Moore, Upper Academy Principal
Q: Where did you attend college and what was your major?
A: I went to Carleton College, in Northfield Minnesota, and I majored in Sociology…I went to UMSL and got my Master’s in Education.
Q: What occupation did you hold before this position?
A: For the last three years, I was an educational consultant.
Q: What did that job entail?
A: I worked with new teachers at Normandy Middle School…it was like an instructional coach and we went through strategies and management using a workbook, that type of stuff…I was also the PBIS coordinator for the building.
Q: Why did you choose Grand Center Arts Academy?
A: I don’t know how to explain it; it just felt right to me? I mean, I’m the one to say it’s kind of weird because four or five years ago, I retired…I just I saw the opening and the idea of the school sounded appealing, and I’m not very artsy, but I love to sing, I love to dance, and just having a mix of the arts with the academics program just seemed ideal to me.
Q: If you had to choose one of our pathways, which do you think you would go into?
A: Theater — it would be theater. I was a member of the Thespians society in high school, I was in a play…because I do like acting, even though I haven’t done any recently. I would definitely choose theater.
Q: Do you have any long-term goals for the school?
A: I want to see End of Course scores improve, and English isn’t as bad as the other content areas are, but I’d like to see EOC scores improve altogether. We’re finally going to have a National Honors Society; that’s going to be happening this year. And I would just like us to be more known in the area — you can be wherever you are and just say ‘I work at, go to, am in Grand Center Arts Academy’ and people will right off know what and where that is and what the school is all about.
Q: What are you looking forward to most this year?
A: Just getting to know the students, and getting to know the staff…as well as parents, but really getting to know the students.
Q: Would you be happier with more control over what happens in your life or more control over your response to what happens?
A: I think I’d like to have more control over what happens…I think if you have more control over what’s happening, then, that’ll take care of what your response is too…my response would nine times out of ten be an appropriate response because I had control over it from the beginning.
Q: How often do you step back and reflect on where you are headed?
A: I guess I do that on a daily basis, and it’s not so much where I’m headed as opposed to where the school is headed…I’m sixty years old, I like where I am right now, so I’m looking more at what I need to do next month; what needs to be done this week.
Q: Would you prefer less or more self-reflection?
A: Well I reflect all the time. I reflect on things on a daily basis, but still, I would definitely like to have more time to reflect, because I think you grow with reflection.
Q: What is your greatest accomplishment?
A: That’s kind of hard to say. I guess I could say my job is an accomplishment, and I went to school, and I got an education, by accident…
Q: How did that come about?
A: Well, when I got out of college I had a degree in Sociology; what do you do with a degree in Sociology? I had to go to grad school, I had to do something, so I got a teaching assistant job in the school district and that’s where I found my passion for teaching…that’s when I went back to school and got my teaching certification and my Master’s.
Q: If you could give any professional advice to GCAA students, what would you say?
A: Follow your path. I tried to mold my daughter, tried to guide her, and she had to follow her own path. And I say that because she went away to school and her first year she just bombed, and that was devastating to me but it actually was the best thing that happened to her. She had to find her way. Nobody else can find your way for you. That doesn’t mean you can’t listen to others, or take advice, you just have to follow your own path and give everything your all. And this is an old fashioned classic line but: never burn bridges.
Q: What does that saying mean to you?
A: No matter what you’re doing, give it your all and be professional. Because the people who you are working around, those people might be in a position someday to hire you. And if they remember you as being lazy, coming to work late, or coming to class late, are they going to have something positive to say in their interview committee? No. Basically, just take pride in whatever you do…I worked part-time at K-mart while I was a teacher. I could have not taken pride in what I was doing because it wasn’t my profession, but instead I used to have customers wait in line just to come through my aisle…That’s what I mean by don’t burn bridges. There’s not a job that I’ve had that I can’t go back to if I wanted to. Because all that stuff — getting jobs — ends with networking. It’s who you know, the impression that you made on people…you just never know who’s going to be on the other side of the table in an interview.
Q: Do you have any dreams or anything you really aspire to do?
A: I want to be the best principal I can be and I want to be a leader for the school; in terms of my work life that’s what I want, and in terms of my personal life, I’m content…I’m loving watching my daughter grow into the woman that she’s becoming, and I’m just at a peaceful place in my life.