Henderson, Nevada — Sister Robert Joseph Bailey remains a legend around Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican and among many in Henderson. She arrived in Henderson in 1953, assigned to teach fourth and fifth grades at St. Peter School. She became known as a champion for children, a highly innovative teacher who was constantly trying new techniques to reach even the most difficult students.
After other teaching positions in the west, Sister Robert returned to Henderson, where she served as Food Services Administrator for 20 years and then became the Community Health Educator at the hospital. Even though she changed her career, her enthusiasm for and dedication to children never waned. Her sincere devotion was apparent as she continued to advocate for the educational health needs of the children of the community.
Over her 34 years at St. Rose, Sister Robert was able to initiate and drive programs for children that would help them become stronger and more confident, healthier and more knowledgeable, and instilling in them a sense of responsibility to their community.
She started the Positive Impact, which provided free medical and dental services to children in low-income families. In one year alone, more than 400 children were treated across 79 schools in Clark County. She also started the Positive Impact on Reading program, pairing volunteers to go into schools and read with identified students.
A favorite program was Buckaroo Days, developed in an effort to alleviate the anxieties children have about hospitals. Sister Robert and several employees dressed in western style and invited local school children to the hospital, giving them tours and explaining the medical equipment. Then, they took them to lunch and gave a lesson on nutrition. Sister Robert became known as Sister Buckaroo.
Because of her contributions to education and the development of the community, school administrators and other leaders promoted the cause of naming a Clark County school after her. Sister Robert Joseph Bailey Elementary School was dedicated on the feast of St. Catherine of Siena in 2008. Several Sisters and hospital administrators were present for this event. In spring 2017, the school will celebrate its 10th Anniversary with Buckaroo Days.
Most of the school’s 900 students qualify for the hot meal program. St. Rose Dominican adopted the school as a way of connecting with its roots and the heritage of the school.
At the beginning of the school year, hospital employees donated school supplies. Before Christmas, a drive for needy students is to be hosted at the hospital. There are also plans to re-establish the practice of Sisters and other staff members going to the school to read with students. There’s a possibility of collaboration with a third-grade teacher who wants to teach letter-writing to his students. The children will write letters to Sisters in Adrian and to some patients.
The school definitely has a western/cowboy atmosphere. A display case highlights the Buckaroo Days, featuring the Sister Buckaroo booklet, written by the St. Rose Women’s Committee, with illustrations by children who visited the hospital years ago. Paintings and decorations in the hallways and classrooms carry out the theme.
Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican will continue to foster the legacy of education and community commitment at Sister Robert Joseph Bailey Elementary School.
Feature photo at top: Three Mission leaders from St. Rose Dominican, along with the President of the Rose de Lima Campus presented school supplies to Sister Robert Joseph Bailey Elementary School: from left, Lindsay Tomlinson, principal; San Rafael Dominican Sister Mary Kieffer, OP; Adrian Dominican Sisters Phyllis Sikora, OP, and Katie McGrail, OP; Teressa Conley, President of Rose de Lima; and Rachel Solem, Assistant Principal of Sister Robert Joseph Bailey.