GOODLOE HARPER BELL: PIONEER SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR (MICHIGAN)
The Seventh-day Adventist church operates a worldwide system of Christian education. The pioneer educator who played a most significant part in laying its foundations was Goodloe Harper Bell (1832-1899).
Bell was a public school teacher in central Michigan from 1851 through 1866. He became a Seventh-day Adventist in 1867 and was subsequently invited to open a small private school in Battle Creek, Michigan. The success attending this school encouraged the church to employ Bell as the first teacher to operate a denominationally sponsored school in 1872. The school became Battle Creek College in 1875. Until 1882, Bell taught a variety of subjects at this school, but particularly excelled in the teaching of English.
Between 1869 and 1884 Bell rigorously promoted Christian education in a number of other capacities. He edited the Youth's Instructor and was elected superintendent of the largest Sabbath school operated by the church. These appointments gave him the opportunity to organize the Sabbath schools of the church and to provide the first graded series of Bible lessons for children and youth. He also played a leading role in the nation-wide organization of the Sabbath schools, and in instructing superintendents and lay-teachers in the principles of Christian education. In 1882 the church appointed him the founding principal of the South Lancaster Academy in Massachusetts until he retired in 1884.
During his retirement years he served as founding editor of the Sabbath-School Worker, editor of a journal--The Fireside Teacher--dedicated to the moral and educational benefit of the Christian home, founder of the first correspondence school operated by a Seventh-day Adventist, and author of well-received textbooks in grammar, rhetoric, and literature.
As a teacher Bell profoundly influenced the early development of the educational program of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Though largely self-educated, he gained a reputation as a most thorough and careful teacher. He was committed to a program of practical education which provided for the balanced physical, mental, and spiritual development of his students based upon the principles and teachings of the Bible.