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Pioneer teacher’s legacy will live on

Published:Thursday | February 3, 2022 | 12:06 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer
Eulalee Bailey
Eulalee Bailey
Eulalee Bailey
Eulalee Bailey

The curtains came down on a life dedicated to uplifting others on January 16, when educator Eulalee Bailey passed away. Bailey, a former vice-principal of then Frankfield Comprehensive High, now Edwin Allen High School in Frankfield, Clarendon, is being hailed as an academic stalwart who enacted positive changes in the field of education, and in the lives of many students.

Bailey, of John Austin in Pennants, Clarendon was regarded by many for her contribution to the field of education.

One could argue that Bailey’s love for teaching might have been innate, as she was one of five teachers among six siblings. One of her sisters, Lilieth Bailey, served as principal of Buelah All-Age School in New Longville, Clarendon. Another sister, Veda Bailey, taught at the Mount Liberty All-Age in Beckford Kraal, also in the parish.

“Because of their commitment and dedication to teaching, their nieces, nephews and many others in the family became teachers as well,” Ian McCarthy, a nephew of Eulalee Bailey, told The Gleaner.

McCarthy posited that his aunt was an English guru and a pioneer teacher, who touched the lives of many people. “She fostered the growth of so many people, and because of that, we didn’t have to wait in line when we went to a lot of places, because she always knew someone,” he related.

Describing his aunt as sophisticated and graceful, McCarthy said, “She did not like loudness or lewdness. She was just immaculate. We are starting to believe she was a saint,” he said.

Admired and respected

Elroy Ricketts, a past principal of the 57-year-old institution, described Bailey as a giant of an educator and a disciplinarian. “She was very diplomatic in disciplining her students to which she was highly admired and respected. She was very caring and would go the extra mile for the success of her students, and she would often respond to their financial needs without publicity. She was honest, hard-working, reliable and conscientious,” Ricketts told The Gleaner.

Donna Barrett-Reid, the school’s current vice-principal, agreed, adding that, “One of her major concerns was the deterioration in discipline in our society and the impact that it has had on young persons.”

Barrett-Reid said Bailey was an educator extraordinaire, a Good Samaritan, mentor, and friend who served the school for 36 years, having started only nine months after the school was founded in 1964.

“She was therefore one of those dedicated individuals who stuck to the task as the school experienced its growing pains, then blossomed and has been bearing fruits over the years,” Barrett-Reid told The Gleaner.

Colleagues said the educator, who also taught the sciences, had a knack for English. That passion guided her conceptualisation of the school’s debating society, and propelled her to the helm of the the Language Department in 1983. Barrett-Reid lauded Bailey as an exemplary leader. “She efficiently guided the teachers in her charge, as together, she worked to make it a progressive department,. Eighteen years later, she climbed another rung of the ladder to the post of acting vice-principal, a position she held for two years,” she said.

Bailey, having taken a holistic approach towards life, offered her services in various areas, and received several awards during her time. In 1997, she copped the Jamaica Teachers’ Association prestigious Golden Torch Award for over 35 years of service to the profession, and a year later, she was awarded by the Jamaica Library Service for her contribution as a member of the committee of the Frankfield branch. In 1999, she was recognised by the Frankfield Community Council for service in the field of education. Bailey also copped several awards from Edwin Allen High between 1985 and 2000.

Barrett-Reid said Bailey’s legacy will forever be embedded in the school’s history.

“Her footprints are still visible, not only through the rich legacy of English literature which she passed on to the hard-working teachers who have taken up the baton in the English department, but also through the hundreds of past students across the world whose lives she helped to shape,” she added.