“Jay didn’t do well in school and I saw how much it hurt my parents,” Bailey said. “By the time they were told he was significantly behind and probably wouldn’t be able to graduate, it was too late to fill in that gap. That was about the same time I was starting college, so I thought if we’re going to fix those problems in children, we’re going to have to do that in the lower grades. I wanted to help others in the same situation and get to them in time to make a difference.”
Reared in Fort Oglethorpe, Bailey stayed close to home, getting her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from West Georgia College through Dalton State, then went straight to work at Woodstation Elementary School. She taught kindergarten for three years, then moved to third grade to teach math, where she’s been for the past five years. She also got a master’s degree from Walden University in elementary reading.
Bailey teaches a regular class, but it’s also considered an “inclusion” class, which means some of her students are more challenged and on a different level than others, making every day intriguing.
“Part of why I love teaching so much is that I’m not ever going to totally succeed at it,” she said, “or arrive at a final destination. Every day is new. Every year, I have something new to work toward. It’s not a job I can get bored with. It’s very rewarding to know the parents are aware, they’re on board, they’re helping. It’s not just anything I do or what the child is doing. Everybody is working together to help that child succeed.”
But her job is not without its obstacles. Bailey said fresh out of college she had to learn to be very discerning, especially when it came to dealing with difficult environments and parents.
“There are so many outside factors affecting a child’s growth and learning abilities,” she said. “I could handle the classroom, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be sometimes to work with the parents. You want to tell them what’s best for their child and you want to say it in love and be honest, but at the same time you don’t want to not speak the truth because of the potential of hurting them. That was hard. I’ve had to learn to put everything else aside and do what’s best for the child and to fight for the child, regardless of whether or not it was uncomfortable for me at times. I always try to speak the truth in love and hope they receive it in a way that will benefit the child. That’s the ultimate goal.”
In response to winning the “Teacher of the Year” award, Bailey said she was actually a little embarrassed.
“I was very humbled,” she said. “There are so many ladies (and men) here who truly deserved it. I am very blessed to work with terrific colleagues and under fabulous administrators. They are the individuals who have in-vested in my career and helped me become the teacher I am today.”
As for the future, Bailey, who is 30 and single, said she’s pretty happy where she is.
“I really don’t have any plans,” she said. “Right now, this is like utopia. It’s great here. Whatever happens, hap-pens. I have great colleagues. I love my job. I love my life. If the right man came along, that would be great, but if it’s not time, that’s okay too. To be perfectly honest, I will go wherever God leads me, and that is my goal — to be the clay and allow Christ to be the potter.”