Lauren Hannani staff writer
“Check. Check. Check.”
Writing down the vocabulary words on the board, he turns around to see one of his students having a conversation with another student. He stares at him for a while, calls him out, marks a “check” under his name on the roster, and then continues writing down the words while keeping a straight face. Meanwhile, the rest of the class is laughing at his deadpan personality.This was the norm in the classroom of English teacher Harry Bailey, who recently died this month after retiring from Hawthorne in 2014.
“It’s not every day when you meet a teacher like Mr. Bailey. He was more than a teacher, he was your friend. He taught you way more than grammar and vocabulary and writing, and I think that’s why everyone wanted to take his class,” sophomore Michelle Heravi said. “It wasn’t something that people didn’t want to go to; it was something people looked forward to, and I think that any teacher that has the ability to make every single student in the class want to pay attention and participate is a teacher.”
Not only did Bailey teach his students English, but he also flipped beyond the literature and grammar pages to inspire his students to think about things that they might have not paid enough attention to.
“He assigned journals every week that made his students think about issues beyond school– of life and death and love. He encouraged us to figure out who we were at such an awkward stage of life, and a lot of us often consulted him for life advice, which he was always happy to provide,” junior Yasmine Jebeli said. “It was really refreshing to be talking about mature topics at an age where everyone still treated us like kids.”
His life lessons were also among the many topics that he shared during class, and some of those lessons are still useful to his students every day.
“He taught me to be happy in every situation. Whether I was having a bad day or a good day, going to his class was the same. It was happy; it was a happy environment that he created for everybody and I think that definitely inspired me to just look at the happy parts. That’s what he would say to us every day. He had a passion for what he did, and that’s inspiring too,” Heravi said.
For some students, Bailey influenced them to do much more than think about life.
“Anyone who has had him knows that he was probably one of the most memorable teachers. Always fun, but we were always learning, too,” Dar said. “It was actually Mr. Bailey’s class that inspired me to go into education; that was the first time I had the thought of ‘I think I want to be a teacher,’ so obviously he had a great impact on me because I really appreciated how understanding he was of his students, but that he always challenged us at the same time and he made learning fun.”
Bailey attempted to connect with each one of his students individually, and that friendly effort will not be forgotten.
“He had such a charismatic personality and it seemed as though he wanted to establish a connection between him and his students. I’m going to miss the way he interacted with his students and made his class the best one of the day,” junior Randy Schmidt said.
No matter what class or year it was, Bailey always served as a helpful and memorable teacher that made a big impact on some of his students’ lives because of his effective teaching skills.
“I had my moments where I struggled, and he definitely went out of his way to work with me and to help me grow as an English student,” Dar said. “Always very understanding, very supportive, and with everybody else, too. He had my siblings as well; he’s a legend. I think his humor and his heart gave him the power to be a really effective teacher.”
Although he may not physically be part of Hawthorne anymore, Bailey will always be remembered by his colleagues, students and friends. His ability to make his class fun and educational at the same time is not something that will be forgotten.
“I think the mark that he leaves with this district is to create an environment for your students where they feel supported and they have fun learning, and he saw that 30 years ago when most teachers weren’t,” Dar said.
Thanks for being you, Mr. Bailey.
“No one has ever left the school saying that Mr. Bailey didn’t leave them with something to take. There’s other teachers out there like him, but there’s never a Mr. Bailey,” Heravi said. “But, I think that’s a good thing in a way because he left such a strong legacy and I’ve had so many teachers in my life, but I’ll always remember Mr. Bailey. I think that him leaving that legacy is truly something special.”