Trudy Bell Honored by The Washington Post

Trudy Bell Named a Washington Post Principal of Excellence

2015 award winners honored as leaders with vision and a plan

Annandale, VA: The Washington Post newspaper has honored the Washington region’s principals with the Distinguished Educational Leadership Awards for decades, recognizing those who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment. Ms. Trudy Bell, Program Director, Phillips Programs for Children and Families ~ Annandale, is a recipient of this prestigious award.

Bell has been an integral part of Phillips for 42 years, the past 20 in her role as Program Director. Phillips is a unique educational setting, serving special education students ages 6-21. Phillips’ students have significant learning and emotional challenges and school has often been a place of repeated failure and frustration for the children and their families. Children and families thrive at Phillips thanks to a highly specialized team of faculty and staff who provide:

  • Highly individualized learning environments, small classes and multidisciplinary faculty and teams
  • Tailored programs to fit the needs of each child
  • Strong emphasis on academic, social and career skills, and on partnering with families
  • Individualized and integrated related services including counseling and speech, occupational and physical therapy as needed

“It takes a creative approach to develop highly customized programs for children with unique needs, a creative thinker who is willing to try something different. Trudy is such a person, thoughtful and compassionate but driven to foster success. She collaborates with many – parents, public school representatives, the kids themselves and pulls from her wealth of experience to create a program that fits the child’s very specific individual needs. She serves as a role model to other staff who in turn work together creatively to determine the needs of each youth,” extolled Piper Phillips Caswell, CEO, Phillips Programs.

Dr. Howard O. Johnson, Program Manager, Multi-Agency Services in the Department of Special Services, Fairfax County Public Schools has worked with Bell for 16 ½ years.   In her letter of support she wrote, “Her worksite is a school which specializes in programming for some of the emotionally and learning challenged students: students who are highly aggressive and assaultive; those who have Autism and other disabilities. Yet, I have never witnessed a more loving professional who stays the course throughout the day, consulting with her staff, advising and providing direction to even the most difficult scenarios. She has never forgotten to remain child-centered, child and family focused.”

Elena and Russell James, parents of a 2014 Phillips Programs graduate, supported Bell’s nomination. They shared that they brought their son to Phillips “as a last resort, a last resort which turned out to be an oasis of opportunity” for their son. And they credit his success with Trudy Bell’s leadership. “Trudy was present when we first went to visit Phillips. When I say present, she wasn’t just there, she was fully engaged and interested in learning about our son and his needs. Throughout our five years working with Phillips Programs, Trudy was with us for the entire journey - right up to one of the happiest days in my family’s history – graduation day.

Stacie Thompson, M.Ed., recapitulated Bell’s leadership, “Summoning the words of John Quincy Adams, Trudy’s actions inspire others, students, families and staff, to dream more, learn more, do more and become more. She is a leader. … I, myself, often think, “How would Trudy respond to this?’ when handling a situation.”   A sentiment echoed by the staff at Phillips is that the very same compassion Bell displays to the children at Phillips is also available to all staff. Thompson shared, “Our setting is very challenging, our students are very complicated, and if our staff are not taken care of, the turnover would be astronomical. The fact that we have such little turnover in such a setting, is directly related to Trudy’s leadership style.”