National Teacher of the Year

1993 National Teacher of the Year

NameTracey L. Bailey

School Information

School Address
Satellite High SchoolSatellite Beach, FL
Teaching AreaPhysics, Biology & Science
Teaching Level10-12

Washington, DC April 20, 1993 -- A Florida high school science instructor, chosen from among 2.7 million elementary and secondary school teachers in the nation, has been named the 1993 National Teacher of the Year. The award winner, Tracey Leon Bailey, 29, who teaches at Satellite High School in Satellite Beach, Brevard County, Florida, was honored today at a White House ceremony where President Clinton presented him with a crystal apple, the traditional symbol of teaching.

The National Teacher of the Year Program is the oldest and most prestigious awards program to focus public attention on excellence in teaching. Now in its 42nd year, the program is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

Although he has taught for only seven years, Bailey has already won statewide and national recognition for his highly advanced and innovative science programs. He has developed and introduced into Florida's classrooms "cutting edge" programs in molecular biology and DNA fingerprinting, subjects not commonly taught before the college level. Bailey has worked with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Carolina Biological, co-developers of the national standards for molecular biology laboratories, conducting workshops at conferences attended by thousands of teachers. He also was a primary author and developer for the Florida Department of Education's curriculum for Instructional Technology.

Even more remarkably, many of the students who achieve success in Satellite's high-tech science courses are those traditionally known as low-achieving or at-risk students. "I am thrilled that my classes are reaching more than just high ability students and are helping all students become excited about learning!" says Bailey. "I am a firm believer that nearly every student will rise to the level of expectations placed on her or him, and my students continue to confirm this at every opportunity."

When hired by Satellite High School in 1988, two primary responsibilities were to build a strong science research program and to establish an Advanced Placement (AP) program in the sciences. Within three years, the school had one of the strongest science research programs in Florida and had won many national and international awards, including 11 first places in 12 categories and all four Best of Show awards in regional competitions. Four of the six students representing the region at the International Science and Engineering Fair were from Satellite and enrollment in AP science classes has doubled, with passing rates among the highest in the country.

Bailey teaches and spreads the gospel of science with almost evangelical fervor. "The excitement for learning that he exudes permeates the atmosphere at Satellite High School," says former principal, Donald Albert. "Students, teachers, staff members and parents become 'caught up' in his vigor and zeal for teaching and learning. He works with his students long hours; as late as one or two o'clock in the morning is not unusual. Tracey's extreme conscientiousness for his students transcends the boundaries of time. He's a teacher, literally seven days a week, 24 hours a day."

Born and raised in Goshen, Indiana, where his family was in the construction business, Bailey earned a bachelor's degree in science education in 1988 from the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. He plans to receive master's degrees in science education and instructional technology in December 1993.

Teaching was not always his first career choice. Bailey was pursuing a physics degree that emphasized space science and astronautics when the university offered him a scholarship to expand his studies into science education while continuing his academic work in physics. Bailey readily accepted. "I recognized that the best teachers I had in high school and in college had been those active in scientific research and study." He fell into the role of mentor and tutor naturally. "My classmates told me that my animated, easy-to-understand explanations about science and my obvious love for the subject indicated that I should become a teacher," he says. "I didn't take them seriously at first, but as I did more, I found great satisfaction and pride in being able to help someone succeed and enjoy a difficult academic subject. I found out that I loved teaching! I still get excited about seeing someone's eyes light up when he or she finally understands a clever or interesting scientific idea!"

One student vividly recalled an evening during a science fair where Bailey and his students were walking on the beach. "Someone brought Mr. Bailey a large jellyfish," he said. "Soon a crowd had gathered asking him questions, and he proceeded to conduct an impromptu class." Even on the rare occasions when he indulges in some recreational activity, Bailey is never far from his work. While windsurfing, for example, he carries a collection bag to bring back samples of seaweed and other specimens of aquatic life.

"In order to provide an excellent learning environment for all, teachers and students must work together to solve real-world problems," says Bailey. "I continue to be thrilled in helping students become excited about science, about their learning, and about conquering the academic challenges before them."

Married to a community college mathematics instructor, Bailey is the father of two infant children, one 18 months old, and the other born in April 1993.

As National Teacher of the Year, Bailey will continue lecturing, developing workshops, and speaking before numerous educational groups and civic organizations, aggressively fostering the professionalism of teachers and encouraging and recruiting new teachers to enter the profession.

"Perhaps most importantly," he says, "I will continue to actively promote total community involvement in education. We must expand the collaborative business partnerships necessary to improve the quality of our educational system."

The other finalists in the National Teacher of the Year program were Rosemary Faucette, a junior high school English teacher from Fayetteville, Arkansas; Pat S. Graff, a journalism, language arts, and government high school teacher from Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Trudi Niewiaroski, a social studies high school teacher from Rockville, Maryland.

Tracey Bailey's Thoughts on Teaching