Daughter honors father's teaching legacy with scholarship
Signs of Richard Bailey remain scattered throughout Glendale Middle School.
A life-size, handcrafted Santa sleigh he built. A bookshelf he constructed. A repaired stool. A coat rack. A cabinet.
But Bailey's biggest legacy, say those who knew him, are the thousands of kids whose lives he changed over his 41 years as an educator in the Salt Lake City School District. It's a legacy his daughter hopes to continue with a new scholarship for Glendale students named in honor of her father, who passed away in October at the age of 67 from pancreatic cancer.
Bailey died just months after retiring as an industrial education teacher at Glendale, where he taught for most of his career.
"It was just something he really felt so passionate about," said Bailey's 29-year-old daughter, Ginger Bailey. "I wanted to be able to kind of give something back to him."
Ginger Bailey plans to call it the Richard Bailey Commitment to Excellence Scholarship. It will be awarded this school year to a Glendale student who will be chosen based on letters of recommendation, grade-point average and essays about career plans.
Her plan is to announce the award recipient this year and then pay the money directly to the student's college of choice after he or she finishes high school. If the winner does not finish high school, the award would go to a runner-up.
Ginger Bailey will announce the size of the scholarship at the end of the school year. But she said she's already collected about $1,100 from family, friends and Glendale faculty.
She said a scholarship simply seemed a fitting way to honor her dad, who took joy in pushing students to reach their full potential. He wanted kids to think about their futures, no matter their circumstances.
Many of Glendale's students face challenges, with about 96 percent coming from low-income families and 40 percent learning to speak English. About 25 languages are spoken in Glendale's hallways.
She said her father displayed in his classroom graduation caps from colleges throughout the state, bought classroom dictionaries in dozens of languages and held career days.
He especially enjoyed the challenge of teaching refugee children.
"He just loved seeing the kids, the light bulbs turn on in their heads," she said. "He was always trying to come up with new projects to make things fun for the students."
It was an attitude that extended beyond just his students. He was often an impromptu fix-it man around the school. His daughter called him a sort-of "real life MacGyver," saving the school countless dollars with his projects.
"It was never-ending what he did," said Dorrie Hamik, a Glendale teacher who worked with Bailey for 15 years. "He was a helper to teachers who needed his help for anything."
Principal Chris Gesteland called Bailey "a remarkable man."
"I guess I'd call him somewhat of a Renaissance Man," Gesteland said. "There wasn't much he couldn't do around the school and there wasn't much he wouldn't do to help someone out."
Late last week, amid a stage filled with students cradling instruments, Hamik awarded Ginger Bailey a plaque in honor of her late father.
"He believed in you guys," Hamik told the hundreds of students gathered for a school concert. "He dedicated himself to helping others, to being a teacher. He took pride in everything he did."
She then handed his daughter the plaque on the stage where her father had worked for all those years managing stage crews for the school's productions. When Ginger Bailey returned to her seat, she sat only feet from the life-size, red, green and gold Santa sleigh her father also built for the school.
To get involved
Those looking to donate to the scholarship set up in the name of Richard Bailey, a former teacher at Glendale Middle School can contact Mountain America Credit Union and ask to donate to the Richard Bailey Commitment to Excellence Scholarship for students at Glendale.