McCarthy honors Bell for service

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

McCarthy honors Bell for serviceEvery year, Rep. Kevin McCarthy calls a top Burroughs High School senior and a teacher who inspired that student to be recognized with a congressional award in Lancaster (see related story this page). And each year, Sierra Sands Unified School District Superintendent Ernie Bell attends to support the local winners.

“So this year, Kevin walks into the room, and says, ‘Ernie, will you come up here?’ I look over at [BHS?Principal?Bryan Auld], and he just smiles at me.”

After more than 35 years of service to the district, Bell announced earlier this year his plans to retire. McCarthy reached out to Auld to help make arrangements for the presentation to Bell without tipping him off beforehand.

On April 15 McCarthy read into the record on the floor of the House of Representatives a commendation in Bell’s honor. McCarthy shared that, as well as a flag that flew over our nation’s Capitol, with Bell at the April 22 evening ceremony.

“I rise today in recognition of Mr. Ernest ‘Ernie’ M. Bell Jr.,” read McCarthy.

“Born and raised in Ridgecrest, Ernie graduated from BHS, and subsequently earned degrees in biology as well as educational leadership and administration.

“He returned to his hometown to serve as teacher, coach, working his way up to assistance principal and principal before being promoted to assistant superintendent of human resources for SSUSD.

“Five years ago, he accepted the district’s top position and has overseen the renovation of BHS as well as the relocation of Murray Middle School during his tenure.

“Ernie’s legacy will be defined not only by his esteemed career as an educator to countless students, but by the fruits of his tireless advocacy for quality education in the Indian Wells Valley for future generations of students,” said McCarthy.

“I know Ernie Bell as a man of his word and as a public servant who tirelessly advocated for the needs of our community’s students and teachers better than almost anyone. I know that despite his retirement, he will remain just as active in the Ridgecrest community as ever.

“On behalf of a grateful community, I wish Ernie, his wife Deanne and their children Jacob, Zachary and Rebecca all the best as they begin this new chapter of his life.”

SSUSD Trustees Amy Castillo-Covert and Kurt Rockwell helped keep the secret from Bell until he was called up by McCarthy.

“McCarthy told the audience that Mr. Bell represented the essence of the award they were about to receive,” said Auld.

“Specifically, he said, ‘It is important for you to go to college and accomplish great things. However, it is also important that you share the skills and experiences you acquire with your community in an effort to serve.’

“He went on to say, ‘Mr. Bell did exactly that. He went off to college and then came back to his community and dedicated his career to serving the students and staff of the Indian Wells Valley.”

“It was a total surprise,” said Bell.

He said he was not prepared when McCarthy invited him to speak, but Bell did speak to the students about the importance of relationships. “Everything we do comes down to the relationships we are able to build with the people we work with,” he said.

The students recognized acknowledged the importance of relationships, said Bell, by thanking and recognizing the families and teachers who supported them.

“For me, everything always comes down to the kids. I love this ceremony, and the way our kids are celebrated for their achievements. To be a part of that was an absolutely humbling experience.”

Pictured: Ernie Bell (left) accepts an award from Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

Story First Published: 2019-04-26