Nancy Atkinson Bailey, 78, a retired elementary school teacher who was one of the founders of Project Learn School in Mt. Airy, died Sept. 2 of cancer at her home in East Mt. Airy.

Mrs. Bailey, along with teachers Donna Allender and Francine Fox, established the independent cooperative school in 1970. Until retiring in 2010, she taught middle school and for many years was the science and Spanish teacher for the whole school.

Fox, who had taught with Mrs. Bailey for 31 years, described her as “committed” and “artistic” and said her skills were essential to establishing the school.

“She had a passionate belief in educating children in a school where teachers and parents worked together,” Fox said.

Allender said Mrs. Bailey was “an invaluable and creative colleague in founding Project Learn School 45 years ago.”

“She was devoted to the well-being of every child, the parents and the other staff members, and she was instrumental in the school thriving over all these years,” Allender said.

Born and raised in Catonsville, Md., Mrs. Bailey graduated from Catonsville High School and what was then Salisbury State College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Early in her career she had taught at Maiden Choice School in Baltimore.

She had been active in the League of Women Voters and for several years had written a science column for the Germantown Courier.

She is survived by her husband of 55 years, William E. Bailey; sons Matthew and Aaron; a daughter, Susannah Grubb, and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to the Nancy Bailey Memorial Fund at Project Learn School, 6525 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19119. – WF