The Heritage Center’s Teacher Fellowship Program was made possible through a generous gift from Sarah and Harry Fields and General B.B. Bell, who was married to Katie Fields Bell for 54 years before she passed away peacefully at her home on May 10, 2023.
Throughout her life, Mrs. Bell devoted herself to not only her family but the
military families around the world where her husband was stationed. She was instrumental in forming different military family resource groups to help families in crisis or facing challenges. She also took spouses’ concerns to Washington several times seeking and gaining solutions to the problems faced by all families during times of war. When she saw a need, she took action in that cemented her legacy as a tireless advocate for those who were serving our country and their families.
Each year, an outstanding Teacher Fellow will be awarded the Katie Fields Bell Fellow Award and will receive a monetary gift to be utilized for further professional development or classroom needs.
Back in 1862, a group of 24 Union soldiers and civilians volunteered for a daring mission led by James Andrews that would take them deep into enemy territory. Commandeering a Confederate train known as “The General” at what is now Kennesaw, Georgia, Andrews’ Raiders attempted to wreak havoc along the Western & Atlantic Railway in hopes of crippling this vital supply artery for the South. Before they could reach Chattanooga, “The General” literally ran out of steam, and the men scattered into the woods.
Eight of Andrews’ Raiders were hung, several escaped, and others were later released in a prisoner exchange. Six of Andrew’s Raiders were the very first to receive the Medal of Honor on March 25, 1863, and others from the group would receive the Medal of Honor later on. Eight of the Raiders are buried right here in Chattanooga at the National Cemetery.
These First Medals are why Chattanooga is recognized and known as the birthplace of the Medal of Honor. These infamous Raiders saw a need and took action, very much like what Mrs. Katie Fields Bell who was born and raised here did throughout her own life in her own way.
Among the many symbols for a “Call to Action” is a bell. In light of this “First Medals” story, Chattanooga being the Birthplace of the Medal of Honor, and the action symbolism associated with a bell, the Katie Fields Bell Teacher Fellow Award is in the form of a railroad bell.
Each year, an outstanding Teacher Fellow will be awarded a smaller railroad bell in honor of Mrs. Katie Fields Bell along with a monetary gift to be utilized on further professional development or classroom needs, and the larger bell will remain in the Heritage Center’s classroom, displaying the names of the Teacher Fellows awarded and serving as a reminder that we are all called to act.