The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

Teachers Before Townsend: Paraprofessional Eric Bailey’s journey from catering to the classroom

Mr.+Bailey+works+as+a+paraprofessional+at+THHS.
Mr. Bailey works as a paraprofessional at THHS.
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Before joining Townsend Harris High School, Eric Bailey pursued various fields until he eventually found his calling as a paraprofessional. 

Mr. Bailey’s high school experience at Cardozo High School was reflective of many THHS students: a struggle to juggle the many demands of life with academics, friends, and passions. He said, “In high school, I wasn’t the best kid, behavior-wise, but I always wanted to make sure that I’d graduate. So that’s why I put a lot of effort into getting up, [so] I understand the struggles of a lot of kids here and how they feel.”

During his high school years, Mr. Bailey met Attendance Coordinator Yvette Reyes through a mutual friend. They met in September of her junior year and had an instant connection, with their friendship remaining strong to this day. 

After graduating from Queensborough College, Mr. Bailey was unsure about what he wanted to do with his life as there was nothing that particularly felt like a goal of his. He bounced around between a few jobs, providing insight into what he gravitated towards. A prominent profession was catering, Mr. Bailey recalls “just falling into it.” 

Although he enjoyed working as a caterer, Mr. Bailey did not feel passionate about it. He said, “The catering job turned out to be more of a dead-end for me. To be honest, I was really just floundering.”

Mr. Bailey was introduced to the education field through Ms. Reyes while she was working at John Bowne High School. He said, “I got to meet a lot of kids [at John Bowne] and I also knew a lot of the staff. I should’ve known that I’d really like working at a school because I enjoyed visiting the kids and the school atmosphere.”

Mr. Bailey recalls having a “knack for taking care of people” as he would often babysit Ms. Reyes’ younger children. When Ms. Reyes informed him about a paraprofessional position opening at THHS, Mr. Bailey was intrigued. He said, “Ms. Reyes mentioned, ‘You were always good with kids, why don’t you try it?’ At first, I was a little apprehensive about it, [but] I said, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a go,’ and that’s what got me in here.”

Although Mr. Bailey was uncertain of whether he would be able to handle the new environment, he decided to take a leap of faith. Mr. Bailey said, “I wish I had gotten into this profession earlier because I didn’t realize how much I would like it, and I would have been a lot farther along. But, sometimes, we just fall into something, and we go from that point forward.”

Reflecting on his experience as a paraprofessional at THHS, he said, “There’s never a day when I head here and I am like, ‘I have to go to work.’ I love and enjoy my work, so every day is good. Sometimes, I’m downstairs, greeting you guys as you come in, saying hello [and I] really love it.”

Ms. Reyes cherishes her friendship with Mr. Bailey and shares her sentiments about his character. She said, “I think Eric is the most wonderful human being I have ever met in my life. He’s my best friend of over 40 years. He is warm, giving, loving, loyal, kind, [and] generous. As a paraprofessional, he does his job very well because he cares about his kids, and he is successful.”

Junior Nafisa Matin expressed her appreciation for Mr. Bailey’s compassionate and welcoming personality. She said, “One of the best things about Mr. Bailey is that he is super approachable as if he were your own friend.”

Likewise, junior Haley Suarez said, “I think Mr. Bailey is a very cool, optimistic guy. He always knows how to brighten up everyone’s day.”

Additionally, junior Nirjhana Paul said, “He’s so welcoming and fun to talk to. Whenever you’re in trouble or just need someone to talk to, you know you can always go to him.”

Mr. Bailey offers words of advice to students. He said, “Enjoy it while you’re here. Take advantage of everything that goes on in school, all of the clubs and programs. Have fun with your friends. I know you put a lot of pressure on yourselves, but don’t forget to be young and have a good time. You can do both. Both are possible.”

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