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News Item: Homepage

Madison Middle School's New Principal: Steven Bailey


By Ray Huard

As a student growing up in El Cajon, Steven Bailey got so-so grades. “I was a kid that wasn’t engaged in school,” Bailey said. “I wasn’t inspired or felt I had the potential to do any better.”


As the new principal at Madison Middle School in the Vista Unified School District, Bailey wants to give his students the inspiration that eluded him – to show students they have “the ability to do whatever they wanted to.”


“Going through the system, I realized there were a lot of kids like me out there and I wanted to change that,” Bailey said.

He didn’t start out to be an educator.


“When I was a young kid, I wanted to help people – nursing, medicine – I just knew I wanted to help human beings,” Bailey said. “At some point, in my mid-20’s, I realized I could do that in education.”


That was after he toyed with the idea of becoming an astronaut. “Every boy’s dream in the ‘80’s was, we wanted to be astronauts,” Bailey said.


Space exploration aside, “I just found my passion in education.”

Bailey came to Vista Unified from the Cajon Valley School District, where he was most recently principal of Emerald STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Middle School. In 2015, he received a Classroom of the Future Foundation Innovative Principal Award.


Amber Walsh, a sixth grade math and science teacher at Emerald STEAM, said that Bailey “gave me a lot of freedom to explore in my classroom and do what’s best for kids.”


“It was nice, because I came from a school that was very limiting on what I could do,” Walsh said. “He was very encouraging. I wasn’t afraid to take risks for student learning.”


For example, toward the end of the 2016-2017 school year, Walsh wanted to create a maker space at the school where students could tinker and learn by building things.


“He helped get it started,” Walsh said. “It’s a small step, but just having that encouragement, a lot of principals wouldn’t let that extra space be used.”


Steven Bailey with Madison Middle School students Alyson Alvarez, Lillian Eury and Kimberly Nava (L to R)


Although Emerald had been designated a STEAM school before Bailey got there, it was Bailey who really made STEAM come alive at the school, said Heather Pentico, also a sixth grade math and science teacher at Emerald STEAM .


“He changed it from a traditional school into this dynamic, 21st century learning experience for kids,” Pentico said. “He’s really excited to try out some new things.”


Walsh and Pentico said that Bailey also made it a point to build a strong rapport with students and parents.


“Vista should know that he gives 1,000 percent. He just gives it his all, he gives it his heart,” Pentico said. “You guys sure are lucky.”


As a newcomer to Madison Middle School, Bailey said, “First and foremost, I want to really get to know the community, really get to know the students, really get to know the staff.”

Beyond that, Bailey said that he wants to “put Madison on the map, really define what we’re going to be the best in the world at.”


“Are we going to be a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) school? What is it that’s going to make Madison stand out? That is something we’re going to be working on,” Bailey said. “I would like to see us continue working on personalizing education for students, increasing students’ exposure to the world of work as an engagement tool for our kids.”


A graduate of Valhalla High School in El Cajon, Bailey has a bachelor of arts degree in social sciences from San Diego State University, a master’s of science in special education degree from National University, and a masters of arts in educational leadership from San Diego State University.


Bailey is an avid gardener and cook, plays the guitar, surfs, and likes “tinkering around with building stuff.”


“I cook a lot,” Bailey said. “I find a cuisine that I’m not familiar with, then I’ll learn the basics. I’m really into making homemade pasta.”


Along with gardening, cooking is a passion he’s passing on to daughters Rowan, 9, and Savannah, 7.


“I love gardening with the girls, with the whole family,” Bailey said. “I find not only is it therapeutic, but it’s also a way to really build family. It’s really cool.”


Bailey said that he and his wife, Angela, had an extensive garden with “tons of fruit trees” along with cacti and stone fruits in El Cajon.


They’re just getting started in their Carlsbad home. “By next spring, we’ll have a garden,” Bailey said.


The family moved from El Cajon to Carlsbad early this year when Bailey’s wife got a job with Fidelity Bank.


“I said, ‘You’ve been following me around for the last 17 years, let’s sell our house. We’ll move up to where you’re going to be working,’” Bailey said. “We sold the house in four days, moved to Carlsbad May 1.”


Soon after, Bailey connected with Visa Unified when the principal’s spot opened at Madison.


As a teacher, Bailey said that he liked “helping students discover their inner strengths and their interests and what they valued in life, really building off that and empowering children as learners.”


Bailey said that he moved into administration because he could reach more students than he could as a classroom teacher. “My goal is to really fundamentally and positively impact kids,” Bailey said.


Posted by: Lisa Contreras, District Admin, Vista Unified School District Published:9/11/17
Audience: Homepage and Homepage