This is part of a series highlighting educators who will retire this school year.
In spite of the world crisis, life goes on, and FortScott.Biz will continue to feature stories of local interest.
Ronda Bailey, 63, has been an educator at Fort Scott Community College for 36 years, teaching English, music and education.
She is retiring this year.
The best part of teaching for Bailey has been being with the students, she said. ” I love the classroom. I love seeing them succeed when they never thought they would; or sharpen their skills. Also, I enjoy watching them discover who they are and what they want to do with their lives.”
” I am heartbroken that I will not get to have the remainder of this year with the students who were in my classes, but I also know that some of them will be in my life after this is over. Many of my former students stay in touch, and I love it. I am excited for the all-school reunion at Uniontown later this year.”
How did you become an educator?
“I remember sitting in my seventh-grade music class in Bronaugh listening to my band teacher Betty Jo Laflen. As I sat there, I realized I wanted to do what she did. I am excited that this fall, I will be substituting for Bronaugh’s current band director while she is on maternity leave. It is exciting for me to go back to the room where my career started.”
Did someone inspire you to teach?
“There were many, but four come to mind. The first was my Aunt, Florence Mason. She taught in many of the one-room schools in Bourbon County. She took me with her to school one day. I believe that was the day I thought teaching could be fun. I already mentioned Betty Jo Laflen. I told her that I wanted to do what she did. She then mentored me. She encouraged me by having me take solos to contest, perform in ensembles at Bronaugh and PSU, and take voice, piano, and clarinet lessons. She continued in that mentor role throughout my career. Sharon Pruitt was the band director at Bronaugh after Mrs. Laflen resigned. Sharon has been a mentor too, and she was piano teacher my senior year. She prepared me for college. All of these women were positive role models that I was fortunate to have in my life. The last person taught me community college teaching, band directing, and recruiting was Robert Estes. He would explain the how and why he directed a composition a certain way, how to organize a music festival and much more. My Aunt Florence died several years ago, but the other three are still very much in my life. I am blessed.”
What have been the greatest challenges?
“Leaving Uniontown School District and leaving Fort Scott Community College.
The Uniontown school district, parents, and children accepted me with open arms. It was a time of great music there. We all worked toward a common goal, and we were successful marching, competing in contest competitions, and learning to love music. It was a wonderful time in my life, and it was so hard to leave..
” Leaving FSCC is a challenge too. FSCC has been in my life for nearly 40 years. I walked on that campus a scared girl from Bronaugh who did not think she could achieve her dream of teaching, but FSCC was the perfect fit. I was in every music ensemble, second runner-up homecoming queen representing Christians on Campus, and student government. I was the Greyhound Express editor, and Bernita Hill, the sponsor, taught me so much about journalism and English. I have taught, in some capacity, at FSCC thirty-six years. Walking out that door for the last time is hard.”
Thoughts on retiring?
“As I said previously, I am going to be a substitute at Bronaugh, Mo. I am excited to have my first summer without teaching summer classes for the first time in fifteen years. I want to read some of the good books that I have not had a chance to read for a while and sew some.
“Hopefully, this pandemic will pass soon and my husband and I will be able to travel some. Until then we will work on our cattle ranch.”
Bailey received an AA from FSCC in 1976, a BSED K-12 instrumental and choral music education from Missouri Southern State University, a master’s in music and also an English certification for 7-12 and Advanced Studies English from Pittsburg State University, in addition, she attended Baker University for Advanced Studies English.
Bailey’s hometown is Bronaugh, Mo. She is married to Roger and they have a daughter, Taylor.
Bailey has been involved in the community in the following ways: Bourbon County Arts Council Member, Bourbon County Fair Fashion Revue Superintendent, Bourbon County Fair Extension Unit Sewing Judge, Progressive Mother’s Club Member, and past president and vice president, Gordon Parks Center Board, member of Community Christian Church and worship accompanist.