GSSW Staff Member Sparking Enthusiasm for Reading at Local Elementary School

January 17, 2018
Angela Bailey CC

When you hear the word “giving” associated with a university, your mind might jump to financial donations, but Angela Bailey believes giving up her time is even more important.

Angela has been at Baylor University for more than 30 years, and she now serves as the program manager for both the PhD and Global Mission Leadership programs at the Garland School of Social Work where she works directly with the programs’ directors and students. She has grown up serving wherever she is needed, especially in her church.

“I’ve volunteered at different things most of my life,” she said. “It’s just always been something that I’ve done. My family encouraged me to give back to others.”

Currently, Angela serves frequently at Speegleville Baptist Church, where her husband is pastor. Growing up, she served in Sunday School, with the choir, and with the youth, so it is natural she is involved with church initiatives now. Through her church, Angela has been able to support events such as a back-to-school lunch for teachers and a school supplies drive for both students and teachers in partnership with Speegleville Elementary School.

Studies have actually found, and this school has seen, that reading scores go up. If a child doesn’t do well in reading, it’s hard to do well in anything else.

What Angela does now that excites her most is leading a book club at Speegleville Elementary. Many children are not read to often at home, so she sees a great opportunity to step in and spark students’ interest in reading.

“It’s a wonderful time for me to give back to the school,” she said. Angela loves to read personally and had teachers from her childhood that sparked her interest, so she has seen the value of reading to children and introducing them to books early.

“They see that reading is fun … you can learn, you can go places you can’t go [otherwise] through reading books,” she said.

In addition, the book clubs she and other volunteers lead with students have an impact on the students’ literacy and overall school lives.

“Studies have actually found, and this school has seen, that reading scores go up,” Angela said. “If a child doesn’t do well in reading, it’s hard to do well in anything else.”

When asked about the impact her volunteer work has on her personally, she mentioned getting a letter from one of her first book club groups.

“It read ‘You are the best book club teacher I’ve ever had…well, you were my first,’” she said. “We might say that like ‘you were the only one––a little sarcastically––but it wasn’t [meant that way]. It was genuine.” This was the moment she realized the great need for this work and the impact one person sacrificing some of their time could make.

Angela cited the Garland School as being very supportive of the impact she makes outside of the workplace, especially with a focus on the incorporation of Christian faith into practice.

“Baylor, in general, and the School of Social Work, in particular, is concerned with the community and sharing what we have with others.” She says the volunteer work she does at Speegleville Elementary and through her church are practical ways she can do that.

“I’m called to do those sorts of things. I will do what I can and hope and pray that it makes a difference in their lives. I love to do that,” Bailey said.

The GSSW thanks Angela Bailey for her continued work in the Waco community and hopes her story encourages others to use their time and passions to bless others around them.

“A small hour of time––what a difference it makes,” she said.