Bailey retires as special ed director

Published 2:10 am Saturday, May 23, 2009

At the end of the school year, Eleanor Bailey will retire as the program director for special education services, a position she has held for more than 24 years.

While that is the position she is retiring from, Bailey has given 34 years to the Demopolis City Schools system, beginning as a teacher.

Bailey came to Demopolis in 1974 and became a first-grade teacher at Eastside Elementary School, which became U.S. Jones Elementary. She taught first grade for two years before teaching sixth grade reading and English for eight years.

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In October 1984, she wanted to work at the central office level as an instructor supervisor.

Bailey was informed of an opening in Wilcox County, and worked there for the remainder of the school year as an instructional supervisor and assistant superintendent. She also served as an interim superintendent from April through June 1985.

“During that time, the state of Alabama was launching a new evaluation system,” she said. “Each system was required to hire a career ladder coordinator. Dr. Hill called me and asked if I would like to come back and work in Demopolis as the career ladder coordinator, and I accepted.”

Bailey became the first minority hired in the system’s central office on a full-time level, and has been in that office ever since.

Some of Bailey’s duties in the central office were serving as the K-12 curriculum supervisor as well as the career ladder coordinator, the school district’s professional development coordinator and special education coordinator.

“She has certainly played an integral role in our school system,” said Demopolis City Schools superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers. “We are going to miss her. She has worked diligently as our special education coordinator to make sure that we have an outstanding special education program. She has also worked diligently with our teachers to make sure that they have quality professional development.”

“One of the highlights of my service here was when we received the Black Belt Arts Initiative grant,” she said. “I was instrumental in getting that, and we’ve been able to bring more arts into our schools. The arts are very special to me.

“I like knowing that I made a difference not only in the lives of teachers, but in the lives of students as well. Being able to see some of the students that I taught in sixth grade become teachers here in our school system — that is rewarding to me as well.”

Bailey said she has no post-retirement plans, although she has received a number of calls from the state department of education.

“These are people that I have worked with over the years,” she said. “They have asked me if I would be interested in doing contract work, and I told them I would. I don’t know how that will shake out, though.”

Throughout her career, Eleanor Bailey has made goals and found ways to achieve them. Her work in Demopolis spanned the breadth of the school system itself, making her a vital part of the school system who will be missed.