Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Candidate: County Should Invest in Educators

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Candidate: County Should Invest in Educators

Article excerpt

MANATEE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, DISTRICT 1

No one at Xtavia Bailey's private Catholic school in Connecticut would've guessed that the little girl who walked in with her perfect uniform had just gotten dressed in a gas station. Or that she was living out of a car with her mother and younger sister.

Bailey, now 37, moved to Manatee County at 9 years old, and although she was an advanced student, she said she was also an "angry student" with a turbulent home life. But she has fond memories of district teachers and administrators who made a difference in her life.

Like Larry Simmons. The retired educator served on the Manatee County School Board from 1992 to 2005.

Now it's Bailey who is running for the board. She is running for the District 1 seat against three other candidates: former teacher Gina Messenger, retired executive Edward Viltz and retired business owner Linda Schaich.

If a candidate fails to receive 50 percent of the vote, the top two will have a runoff in the Nov. 8 general election.

Sit down at a local diner with Bailey and it's clear that she's from here. Watch as the owner and waitresses walk up and say hello, ask her about the campaign and declare their support.

"All my stuff has been done and focused here where I live, where I'm raising my kids and where I'm going to stay," Bailey said. Her two children attend Manatee County schools.

Bailey is currently co-owner of One Stop Credit Repair, a credit repair and counseling service. Although she's not a certified teacher, she facilitated classes for four years in the Amer-I-Can anti-gang program in Manatee County.

She also taught life skills to juveniles in county jails. Some of her students behind bars had been her students in the classroom. But she knew how to connect with their struggles and managed to help turn some of those lives around.

In high school, Bailey was on track to graduate early. …

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