Felicia Bryan Bessent
School: Valley High School
District: Elk Grove Unified School District
County: Sacramento County
Region: Northern California
Grade: Elementary School, Middle School, High School
Subject: Math, Choir, Music, Special Education
Award Year: 1991
Felicia Bryan Bessent, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, graduated from University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Music degree in music education, minor in music therapy.
Bessent began her 41-year educational career as a choral music teacher, a special education (mild/moderate) teacher, and a school administrator. As a military spouse, she taught in Georgia, Virginia, Hawaii, and Arizona before relocating to California. In Sacramento, Bessent taught at secondary schools, primarily at Valley High School.
To increase student success, Bessent used instructional strategies aligned to her student’s learning modalities while teaching rigorous/interactive lessons. “Encouraging students to be active in decision making gives them a sense of pride, commitment, and ownership of their learning.” (Bessent’s 1991 California Teacher of the Year application.) After teaching for eighteen years, Bessent became a high school vice principal and a middle school principal.
She earned a Master of Arts in special education from California State University, Sacramento and a Professional Administrative Service Credential from LaVerne University.
Additionally, she attended Harvard Graduate School of Education Principals’ Center. After serving as a school administrator for twenty-three years, she retired in 2016 from Edward Harris, Jr. Middle School. During her tenure as principal, Bessent addressed students as future college graduates, while instilling high expectations stressing personal and cultural pride.
Her philosophy is “educators should not dictate a student’s future, but teach, encourage, inspire and give them resources so they can reach THEIR highest goals and greatest potential.” During her educational career, Bessent received numerous awards, including the Milken Educator Award.
She is a life member of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Locally, Bessent is active at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, Sacramento Ebony Chorale, and Celebration Arts Theater’s Kids Time. Bessent, married over forty years, has two adult children and two grandchildren.