Growing up in a family of educators, Stacy Giles (ABEd ’95, TeachCert ’95) always knew she wanted to become a teacher. A reverence for the profession of education was “ingrained in us,” says Giles. “I remember every teacher I ever had from elementary through high school. They all had a positive impact. And that was the type of positive impact I wanted to make.”
Giles’ mother, Sandra Bell (ABEd ’59, TeachCert ’59, AM ’66), taught school before raising three children of her own. Then, as a parent, she volunteered in her children’s schools; she could often be found in the library following Giles and her siblings as they moved up through the grades.
Over the span of his 37-year career in education, Giles’ father, Alvin Bell, held several teaching and administration positions in the Detroit public school system—from substitute teacher to driver’s ed instructor, staff coordinator, and eventually principal. One of his former students was so changed by her experience in his fourth grade classroom, she went on to make an award-winning documentary about the lasting impact he had on her and her classmates. Colorblind tells the story of Bell, a Black teacher, and the lasting impression he left on his all-white class of fourth graders the year before they would be dispersed because of the 1967 Detroit uprisings.
As an undergraduate at U-M, Giles followed in her parents’ footsteps, studying in the SOE. She landed a job just weeks after graduation, suddenly finding herself exactly where she had always planned to be: at the head of a second grade classroom.
Now, along with her husband, Joseph Giles (BBA ’96, JD ’01, MBA ’01), Giles is reaching students in her hometown in a whole new way. The Chicago-based couple recently established the Bell Family Scholarship Fund to honor the legacy of Giles’ mother, father, and sister Leslie Bell (ABEd ’89, TeachCert ’89), who carried on the family tradition as well, teaching in Detroit schools until her retirement in 2016. The scholarship supports teacher education students at the SOE.
“I just felt this was a great way to honor my family, not just my parents, but my sister, too—they have committed their whole lives to teaching,” says Giles.
The Bell Family Scholarship Fund is intended to assist students who hail from Detroit and who plan to pursue the Detroit teaching school pathway. The teaching school model, which launched three years ago, welcomes selected teacher interns from SOE into the highly supportive environment at The School at Marygrove, a school in the Detroit Public Schools Community District that is part of an innovative cradle-to-career (prenatal through grade 20 or “P-20”) educational partnership. Interns have the opportunity to remain in the teaching school for a three-year residency while they continue to develop their practice and grow into educators who stay in the profession and mentor others.
Giles, who grew up just a mile from what was once Marygrove College, knows the campus well: it was where she attended preschool. Her parents still live in the neighborhood. Given that the P-20 Partnership is a cradle-to-career campus, the opportunity to support teachers in training felt like a full-circle moment.
The scholarship is part of the Teach Blue initiative, a new approach to support the recruitment, preparation, and retention of teachers through a comprehensive pipeline of opportunities and resources.
“When I learned about Teach Blue and the P-20 Partnership, establishing a scholarship just felt like a great way to honor my family. Not only would it benefit teachers and students, but the whole Detroit community.”