Autonomy? Trust and Responsibility

Episode 2-2: Autonomy? Trust and Responsibility

Show Notes



The Pandemic is endemic, or nearly so.  We’re still getting sick at all the wrong times, but the impact on most who actually test positive for COVID-19 are annoying rather than debilitating.  But the pandemic left us with a huge educational hangover, and the headlines really are screaming at us.  As always, our interest is in the experience of those who are on the ground.



  00:00  Introduction to the Second Season Dr. Barbara Stengel

01:25   Introduction to Autonomy (a tour through the headlines from Chicago and Denver) Stengel, Camilla Modesitt, Director of External Relations, Denver Language School

08:15   Principals’ Perspectives: “Professionalism and Empowerment with Balance and ‘Compliance’” Merida Freguada, Principal, Marrama Elementary

12:13   Principals’ Perspective: “Innovation in Name Only” Alex Wenzel, Principal, Denver Center for International Studies

19:55   Principals’ Perspectives: “Autonomy as Freedom, Power, and Responsibility” Modisett

32:44   Autonomy = Trust and Responsibility Stengel, Fraguada

33:55   Teacher Autonomy, Dead or Not Dead? Stengel

36:45   Autonomy in the Good School:  Lessons from Bailey Stengel, Claire Jasper-Crafter, Bailey Chief of Culture;  Karen Dorris, Bailey Teacher Leader, Laura Laufman, Bailey Resident

  41:50   “All Their Needs Were Taken Care of” Stengel

  42:45   Next Time:  Learning in and through Practice  Wenzel, Stengel



Many thanks to the guests who agreed to inform our thinking for this episode!


As usual, there are references to a variety of social, educational and historical news and commentary. You can pursue our sources and find out more about these issues at our website:

The first season of 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.

Chasing Bailey’s second season explores those “important education truths” as we think through some of the challenges that all teachers, leaders, and students face.  We consult some of your favorite Chasing Bailey characters, but we also talk with educators in other schools around the country.  As always, our focus will be on the experience of educating and being educated.

Our Host is Barb Stengel, an emerita professor of educational practice at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, and also emerita professor at Millersville University. She is an educator, a self-described fan of the Bailey experiment, and an advocate for public schooling but a strong critic of how public schooling has strayed from educational intentions. 

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 she spent a year interviewing dozens of staff, students, parents, and district administrators who were eager to talk about their experiences.  

Barb is now retired from Vanderbilt University but she continues to find ways to highlight the work of educators and to criticize (constructively) the figures and forces that get in educators’ way. 




Chasing Bailey is hosted and narrated by Dr. Barbara Stengel, Vanderbilt University. 


This episode was edited and co-produced by Samuel Deacon and Brenna Fallon with support (especially with distribution and social media) by Ruby Mundok.   The executive producer is Dr. Lowery Woodall, Millersville University of Pennsylvania. 


Our theme for Season 2 is Folk Music 2 by Caffeine Creek Band.  In addition, we have incorporated the following musical tracks:   

.  You can find these tunes on 


New episodes will drop on the first day of the month.  You can find us 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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