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Loved ones reflect on the legacy of Dr. Sharon Bailey

The former Denver School Board member died on Friday at the age of 68.

DENVER — The Denver education community lost one of its champions for equity in school when Dr. Sharon Bailey died Friday at age 68.

"I think we're trying to get through the sudden impact of it all," her husband John Bailey said.

Sharon Bailey served on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education from 1988 to 1995. She continued her work in Denver Public Schools toward creating fair opportunities for all students, especially those from the African American community.

"Sharon was a will and want person. I will do the work, but I want you to help me," John Bailey said. "She was always trying to problem solve and figure out how to make things better."

in 2016, Dr. Bailey wrote a comprehensive study on the impact of inequity in school on students and staff. Called "An Examination of Student and Educator Experiences in Denver Public Schools through the voices of African-American teachers and administrators," it became known as the Bailey Report. It served as the foundation for the creation of the Denver Public Schools African American Equity Task Force.

"She was making an impact and probably still had more to do," John Bailey said.

Dr. Darlene Sampson met Sharon Bailey nearly 20 years ago. Sampson said Dr. Bailey, a Princeton graduate, mentored her.

"I'm so saddened to hear about the loss of Dr. Bailey. She is a giant in the educational field," Sampson said. "She's like a mother bear for the community, and she watches over the community. She watches over the children. She gives of herself fully."

Sampson now works as a principal analyst for the Western Educational Equity Assistance Center at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Sampson said she learned a lot from Dr. Bailey.

"She has this quiet calmness, this professionalism, but you get home and you said, wow, I received all kinds of wisdom today," Sampson said. 

Sampson said the Bailey Report should serve as a template for all schools to address racial issues.

"We can't just have a report written and we don't do anything with it. We have to honor her legacy," Sampson said.

John Bailey wants people to continue the work that his wife started.

"Being able to do that authentically is the challenge," John Bailey said. "Part of the ongoing work is to continue to meet the challenge."

A Celebration of Community Services for Dr. Bailey will be held Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church at 3701 Colorado Blvd. in Denver. The family will host a memorial service Saturday at 11 a.m., also at New Hope.

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