N.B. Mills Elementary School held a balloon release ceremony on Friday in honor of teacher assistant Taccarra Bailey.


Students and staff at N.B. Mills Elementary hugged each other and cried on Friday as they honored teacher assistant Taccarra Bailey, who passed away last month.

Taccarra Bailey

“She was a dear friend, a person with the biggest heart,“ Assistant Principal Jamie Mabry said. “She was someone who gave 200 percent to this school and every student she touched.”

During a balloon release ceremony, students sang “We Stand Together.”

Bailey, 38, passed away on March 26 at the Gordon Hospice House after a courageous fight with cancer. A graduate of Mitchell Community College, she left behind a daughter Ja’Layah, whom she loved with her whole heart.

Quantifying the impact Bailey had on the N.B. Mills community — and the void her passing has created — is virtually impossible, according to staff members who worked with her daily. The love she shared with her co-workers and students will never be forgotten.

Her co-workers describe Bailey as a compassionate hard worker, who would spend her own money on school supplies, pay for neighborhood kids to go to AAU basketball games and do anything that was asked of her. Bailey was surprised and humbled, her friends said, when she was honored as the Bus Driver of the Year and Teacher of the Year at N.B. Mills.

Bookkeeper Mari-Katherine Webber witnessed Bailey’s selflessness on a daily basis, even as she battled cancer. Bailey, who was affectionately known as “TeeTe” and “Miss TeeTe,” was determined to make sure that every kid felt loved and was included.

“Miss Teete treated each student as if they were her own child,” Webber said. “If a student needed food, she would go out of the way to get a meal. She made sure that her students had school supplies and that everyone’s field trip was paid for so no student was left behind. There are really no words to describe the mark that she left on the students here at N.B. Mills.

“Teete always showed up,” she added. “If you needed a listening ear, a little advice, or simply someone to laugh with, Teete was there!”

Donna Grant, teacher and MTSS coordinator at N.B. Mills, said she will never forget the strength and courage Bailey demonstrated over the final months she was able to work.

“She fought hard,” Grant said. “She wanted her life to remain as normal as possible. She never complained and didn’t want empathy from anyone. She came to work religiously, regardless of how she felt. She was weak, but she still had a smile on her face.”

Bailey’s impact on her students was immeasurable, Grant said, pointing to her work with N.B. Mills kindergarten students.

“Many of our students begin school without exposure to any letters or sounds,” she explained. “The parents of the students in her class bragged on her often on social media. It made my day once when I opened Facebook to see a parent sharing a video of her daughter reading books in kindergarten. TeeTe was the only teacher working in that class at the time, so I knew she was responsible for that child learning to read. She poured her whole heart into working with the children in her classroom at NB Mills.”

Beyond that, Bailey invested in her relationship with Grant’s daughter, encouraging her daughter to play basketball and volleyball — and even drove her to practice.

“She did this for many kids in the community. Her heart was just that big. The Bailey family has a love for sports, and she shared that passion with many children,” Grant added.

Patricia Johnson, who works as a teacher assistant and bus driver at N.B. Mills, said Bailey was always willing to help her co-workers and do anything to serve the students.

“As a AAU basketball coach and former player, she had a connection with the young boys at our school and some of them were really challenging in our classroom,” Johnson explained. “We could call her and she would come in and take that student out in the hall and could talk to them in a way to calm them down and they would most of the time come back with a new attitude. She would also keep a check on them.”

Kindergarten teacher Latoya Imes, who underwent chemotherapy at the same time as Bailey, recalled how she and her “pink sister” would admire how fast each other’s hair grew back after they finished their treatments. The shared experience of going through chemo together helped forge a special bond between the two women.

“I want the world to know that not all superheroes wear capes,” Imes said. “Some of them teach, and she was and is a hero in my eyes. She took on a battle that most people will never know and she did it with grace, compassion and determination. I consider myself blessed to have been on the same journey as her and to not only be her pink warrior sister, her co-worker, but to be a friend to such a beautiful soul.”