My SPS Story: Mr. B – the rock star at Twain Elementary
Feb. 7, 2023
Ernie Bedell is a special education paraprofessional at Mark Twain Elementary. He is affectionately known as “Mr. B” by the students and staff and appreciated for his incredibly motivating presence.
“He cares about all students, but he tries to represent students who were just like he was as a child and now look up to him for what they could do with their future,” said first grade teacher Alicia Johnson. “Recently, a Black second grader at Twain asked Mr. B if he was a rock star. Mr. B said that he was whatever that little boy saw him as and if it was a rock star, then he was a rock star. He shared with that student that they could be one as well.”
His philosophy at school is simple but profound -- he would like to share the same with his students now that his teachers did for him when he was a student. “Don’t hesitate to help a child,” said Bedell. “And if you see something that a child shows they are interested in -- help them pursue it. Give hope and inspiration for the future.”
Bedell also has a passion for the history of Black music in Springfield, and has researched and written a book, Generation B Music & Melodies, about his family’s musical legacy. Generations of the Bedell family have performed music for over 100 years in Springfield and Texas and continue playing together today. There are five generations of the Bedell family sharing their musical talents at local venues. He plays the bass, the acoustic bass and the guitar with the soul-funk band ABS Band.
He graduated from Central High School in 1970 and acknowledged art teacher Mary Scott and English teacher Donald Sharp, who influenced him. Mr. Sharp played the acoustic guitar after school at Pipkin Middle School. “I was in trouble and had to stay after school,” said Bedell. “I saw Mr. Sharp playing his guitar and told him that I wanted to play one also.” Mr. Sharp said he would help teach the seventh grader if he could get a guitar. Bedell cleaned an apartment complex on Walnut Street and purchased a used acoustic guitar at a downtown pawn shop. While writing his book, Bedell located Mr. Sharp to interview him and discovered he lived two blocks away and they reconnected.
Bedell attended college at SMS (now MSU) and graduated with a degree in information technology from Richland College in Dallas.
Bedell’s book, Generation B Music & Melodies, may be purchased from Amazon.com and local bookstore ABC Books (2109 N. Glenstone #J) or checked out at the Springfield-Greene County libraries or MSU and Drury University libraries.
For more information about Bedell's music, visit erniebedell.com. For a more extensive and recent interview about the music of the Bedell family, please watch this interview about the Music on Route 66.