Bailey Closes on Greenwood Ave. 

May 2, 2023

Episode 8: Bailey Closes on Greenwood Ave.

Show Notes


It’s been a minute since our last episode … sorry to keep you waiting to hear just why Bailey on Greenwood Avenue was shut down, but I couldn’t explain how Bailey closed without the help of Principal Christian Sawyer and Dr. Alan Coverstone who was the Director of the iZone in MNPS and the administrator who got the ball rolling for the Bailey transformation – and those two guys are tough to pin down.   Once we got to talking, I was fascinated by the way Christian and Alan reflected on their experience with Bailey, taking responsibility, not blaming anybody else, but still speaking forthrightly about systemic blind spots, racism, and the political ecology of the district and the state that made it extremely difficult to set a course and stick with it.  As we’ve said from the very beginning, this is both object lesson and cautionary tale.


This is the final episode of Season 1.   In the second season, slated to drop as school reopens in September, we’ll be thinking about lessons learned.  We won’t leave Bailey behind, but we’ll be bringing other schools and other educators into dialogue with the Bailey team and the Bailey experience.  Look for us then as we think more about what teaming looks like in elementary or secondary schools, as we consider the ups and downs of teacher residencies, as we explore how committed educators are able to focus on what’s possible despite systemic constraints, and more from families and students.  If you have an idea you’d like to have us explore or some ways you and your colleagues have found to focus on the relations and responsibility that have to be at the center of our educational efforts, please drop a note to   We would love to hear from you!




:00   Introduction,  Barbara Stengel

04:00   Bailey and the iZone: Dr. Alan Coverstone, Director of the iZone

08:23   Expectations and developments in the first year: Coverstone; Dr. Christian Sawyer, Executive Principal

11:00   Hiring teachers of color: Coverstone, Sawyer       

14:00   Changes in the second year, teaming and teachers of color:  Coverstone, Sawyer, Stengel

19:20   “The Plan” throws a wrench into the Bailey progress:  Stengel, Sawyer, Coverstone

21:45   The decision is made to close Bailey and the Bailey experiment unwinds:  Stengel, Sawyer, Coverstone

27:55   Commentary on the importance and effectiveness of relational pedagogy:  Stengel

28:50   After Bailey closed:  Stengel

29:30   But why?

                     Administrative failure to understand what was happening

                     Fix-it mindset vs. relational perspective


                     Systemic pushback


                     Leader’s naivete

64:20   Wrap-up and lead in Chasing Bailey, Season 2.  Barbara Stengel, Christian Sawyer


In this eighth episode, there are references to a variety of social, educational and historical news and commentary. You can find sources to find out more about these at our website:


  Chasing Bailey is a podcast about a group of teachers, leaders, and others who dedicated    themselves to changing the fortunes of a failing middle school in Nashville TN from 2012 to 2016.

They succeeded, but their achievement was bittersweet.

In 2016, the district closed that school.

Still, those who were there knew they had stumbled onto something special, some important educational truths that might help all of us find our way out of the morass that COVID 19 has left us in.

Our Host is Barb Stengel, a retired professor of educational practice at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. She is a self-described fan of the Bailey experiment.

Between 2012 and 2016, Barb spent one day a week at Bailey, coordinating the school’s collaboration with Peabody, and serving as an informal cheerleader while also learning from this remarkable effort. She knew early on it was a story worth telling. So over the past year, Barb has spent time with dozens of staff, students, parents, and district administrators who were eager to talk about their experiences.


This episode was edited and co-produced by Brenna Fallon.   The executive producer is Dr. Lowery Woodall, Millersville University of Pennsylvania.


Our theme music is Midnight Blues by lemonmusicstudio.  Occasional music for this episode includes Blues Vibes by Michael Kobrin.  (Music available on Pixabay.)


This is the final episode of the first season of Chasing Bailey.  New episodes will be released as the 2023 school year begins.   We plan on two episodes a month. You can find the entire first season on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon, and Stitcher, and nearly anywhere else you find your podcasts.


If you appreciate what you hear, please subscribe to Chasing Bailey, leave us a review, share with your friends by word of mouth, and post on social media.   Follow us on






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