In memoriam:

Miss Callisto Bell


One of the more wonderful moments in the Museum gallery occurred in August 2010 as I was dashing out of the Travelstead Room on an errand. I noticed a very distinguished woman looking at the displays and, specifically, reading the Gallery wall panels for “Teachers from a forgotten era: Progressive education in black high schools.” Since the university was on its semester break, few patrons were visiting at that time, although I certainly would have noticed this special guest under any circumstances. Having spent the past few years interviewing teachers and students from the Secondary School Study, I could recognize the stature of a true educator. I returned to my office to ensure that I was somewhat presentable and, after taking a deep breath, I approached our patron and introduced myself. Her countenance and demeanor were breathtaking. That was when I had the honor to meet Mrs. Elizabeth Martin, principal and teacher in the Fairfield County schools for twenty-one years, a resident of Winnsboro for the past 44 years, and a 1942 graduate of Pearl High School in Nashville, one of the schools in the Museum’s Secondary School Study.

Mrs. Elizabeth Martin at the Museum


Mrs. Martin traveled to the Museum because she had remained in contact with her high school teacher, Miss Callisto Bell of Pearl High School, who was featured in the Museum’s display. I had been in correspondence with Miss Bell and informed her of the exhibition. In Miss Bell’s subsequent conversations with Mrs. Martin, University of South Carolina and the Museum of Education were mentioned leading to this August visit. Mrs. Martin wanted to see the display! I was so touched by the power of the teacher-student relationship—a former student making arrangements for somewhat complicated travel in order to see the display of her teacher who had become a mentor and remained a devoted friend.

On March 28, 2012, Miss Bell passed away just three days before her 98th birthday. The Museum of Education continues to display Callisto Bell’s image as one of the important progressive educators of the Secondary School Study, and we wish to use this opportunity and the comments by Mrs. Martin to portray the power of teaching and the significance of education to make meaningful, long-lasting influences on our students’ lives.

Craig Kridel, Curator, 2012



“Miss Bell was an inspiration to me as a student at Pearl High School, and she became my mentor and friend. I would become a teacher and principal, working in the schools of South Carolina for twenty-one years, due to her influence and guidance.”
Elizabeth Martin, spring 2012


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