Submitted by Denair Unified School District
Serenity Bailey’s world has been anything but serene over the past year.
First was the news her mother had cancer – a traumatic event for any loved one, but especially a young girl. Then came the freak storm on November 15, when a category 1 tornado ripped through Denair and sent a massive eucalyptus tree crashing into the Bailey family’s 100-year-old Victorian home on Zeering Road. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the house was destroyed and the family displaced. Then, a week after the tornado, Serenity and the entire Denair school community was stunned by the tragic news of Mark Selee’s death. He was Serenity’s fourth-grade teacher last year.
It was more bad news than most fifth-graders ever have to absorb in such a short time. According to Sara Michelena, Serenity’s principal at Denair Elementary Charter Academy, the young girl has shown uncommon determination, resiliency and courage.
“She has continued to bounce back when others might not have done so,” Michelena wrote in nominating Serenity for a countywide award.
The Every Student Succeeding program honors students in grades kindergarten through 12 who have overcome serious challenges, succeeded beyond expectations or just won the hearts of their school staff. It is coordinated by the Stanislaus County Office of Education and the local Association of California School Administrators.
Michelena credits her staff, the Turlock Chaplain’s Association and the experts from Jessica’s House, a group that specializes in working with grieving children, for their efforts to help all of DECA’s students through a difficult time.
“The outpouring of support and kindness of the people of Denair and surrounding communities has restored our faith in the human spirit. Serenity and her family continue to rebuild and recover, and we continue to be in awe of her strength and courage,” Michelena wrote, adding that Serenity “is one of those bright lights in dark times.”