Dr. Jen Moder-Bell Honored with 2024 United Methodist Exemplary Teacher of the Year Award

Dr. Jen Moder-Bell(LEBANON, Ill., March 21, 2024) – Dr. Jen Moder-Bell, an associate professor of music education at McKendree University, recently received the 2024 United Methodist Exemplary Teacher of the Year Award. This award was given by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. Selection criteria include excellence in teaching, civility and concern for the students and colleagues, commitment to value-centered education and service to students, the institution and the community.

Dr. Moder-Bell has been serving McKendree since 2013 and is well-known, well-respected and well-liked. She works tirelessly for her students, guiding, supporting and advising them on their journeys. Her dedication has even taken the form of having students over to her house for dinner, epitomizing the McKendree hospitality that students regularly experience.

“Dr. Moder-Bell is an exemplar of learning-by-doing,” said Dr. Alan Alewine, associate provost at McKendree University. “The quality of music made by the various campus ensembles and bands has increased exponentially since her arrival. It is inconceivable that she could effectively direct those groups if she were not a band member or not involved in musical organizations herself.”

Dr. Moder-Bell is also a master recruiter and takes care to reach out and make connections with band students of all ages – and their families – in the local communities. While most band and choral students are not music majors or music education majors, she recruits students who she believes are not only musically talented but also possess the potential for success outside of music. She regularly hosts music preview days, oversees major auditions, organizes chamber music nights in which high school students have the opportunity to work with applied instructors, and leads an annual summer junior high band camp. Last summer, she and several other chaperones traveled with 310 Illinois high school students to Europe for a musical and cultural experience.

This year, Dr. Moder-Bell began the St. Louis Youth Brass Band for area middle school students. Six years ago, she also began the St. Louis Academy Brass Band for area high school students. As a professional trombonist, she is a member of the St. Louis Brass Band and also serves on its board.

“I am extremely honored to have been named the recipient of the 2024 United Methodist Exemplary Teacher Award,” said Dr. Moder-Bell. “I have been blessed to have received extraordinary support in my educational and musical endeavors.”

Dr. Moder-Bell credits many important people for her successes, including her parents and also two mentors, Dr. Stephen Parsons and Dr. Joseph Parisi.

“My parents, Dave and Mary Jane Moder, were the first to support my musical journey and instilled in me the desire to give back as I had been blessed with the gift of music,” she said. “I was fortunate to learn from two wonderful mentors – Dr. Parsons showed me how much I loved playing my trombone and helped me grow in my musicianship, and Dr. Parisi instilled in me a passion for higher education and helped me grow in the skillsets necessary to make a positive impact as a college professor at both my institution and in my community.”

Dr. Moder-Bell’s husband, Dr. John Bell, has also been a strong supporter of all her musical and educational events, both at McKendree and in the greater community.

“We are fortunate to work together with the St. Louis Brass Band, the Illinois Ambassadors of Music and with all the community outreach events we host through McKendree,” she said. “I am truly thankful and blessed to have fantastic friends, students, colleagues and administrators who support my love of music and education.”