We all remember that one teacher from our childhood who, despite scaring us half to death, pushed us to do more and reach higher than we ever thought possible. The one who made us redo an assignment, over and over again, until it was perfect. The one who was the hardest on us, but was often the most fun.
Ms. Cynthia Davis is that teacher for the hundreds of kids who have walked through her doors at Carver Middle School in Orlando, Florida. And I was blessed to be able to teach alongside her.
Ms. Davis is a rare breed. It’s not that she is just hardworking or dedicated to her students—most teachers are. She’s more. She holds her kids—all of them—to the highest expectations and does whatever is necessary to make sure they succeed.
It’s not uncommon to walk into Ms. Davis’s classroom and find the contents of students’ backpacks strewn across their desks, only for her to spend a half hour helping them put crumpled homework assignments back into their respective folders. Or for her to stop mid-lesson to address the consequences of lying/fighting/cheating/fill-in-the-blank with whatever issue has come up that day. Or for her to discuss, at length, how to speak to an authority figure in the appropriate way (as in, don’t roll your eyes when your teacher politely asks you to sit up so you can NOT get kicked out of class and learn something). And after spending 12-14 hours a day at school during the week , she enjoys her time off by leading community service projects for her students on the weekends. How are the rest of us supposed to feel good about ourselves after that??
Promoters of the status quo argue that a test can’t measure everything a teacher does. But Ms. Davis understands the responsibility placed on her shoulders as a teacher. And she knows that as she helps students develop their character and pushes them to persevere, her efforts will manifest themselves in a class of better students, eager to learn. It’s all of those “other things” teachers do that amplify their teaching, allowing students to learn the content and skills our tests measure. I’ll bet every penny I have that integrity, organization, conflict-resolution, and perseverance pay dividends on tests. Why? Because we meet kids where they are, and the learning follows.
I hope educators like Ms. Davis know the impact they have had on the lives of their students. All of her time, effort, and late nights she has spent molding young men and women have not been wasted.
To all the Ms. Davis’s out there—thank you.
What her former students have to say:
- Ms. Davis has by far been the most outgoing and sacrificing person I have met. Her personality and strong willingness to reach out towards students reflects directly back on the amount of effort she gives. As a past student, it was an honor to receive advice and wisdom from someone of such character. As a member of The World’s Finest Air Force, I believe she displays the core values of “Integrity First” by doing what’s right and providing positive solutions regardless of the situation, “Service Before Self” as she goes out of her way to ensure the success of what is important before herself, and lastly the value of “Excellence In All We Do,” which describes how she executes her teaching to the fullest of her abilities, if not more, so that students may benefit. I am blessed to have had her as a part of my scholastic journey, and those who are experiencing her guidance currently should feel honored. – Ryan Harris, USAF, Airman First Class
- Ms. Davis to me is not only an inspiration, but she’s my motivation. She’s one of the people whose voices I look back on and say “hey, she was there for me” or “she believed in me,” especially when no one else did. She’s like a second mother to me. She has a heart as big as the universe and maybe even bigger than that. I look up to her for all that she has accomplished. I adore her for all that she believes in and how she stands behind it all. She is a very bright, intelligent woman. One day, I want to be pretty much like her–embody what she stands for. I love her dearly, with all my heart. Because out of all of this, I want her to know, that she is, and forever will be, my role model. – Oquisha Purnell, student at Valencia College
- I’ve known Ms. Davis since 7th grade and she has always been a caring and supportive teacher. The times I didn’t care about school, and most of all her work, she made me care. I really want to thank her for staying on me and pushing me to go beyond the norm. Continue to be an encouraging teacher because without your guidance and discipline, I don’t think I would be where I am today. Ms. Davis, you are truly appreciated and a blessing to any student that enters into your class. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! – Georgina Wright, freshman at Clark Atlanta University
About the author
Sara is the Florida Regional Advocacy Director for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Prior to joining ExcelinEd, Sara worked in the Florida public school system as an English/Language Arts and reading teacher, at a Title I middle school and later at a K-12 charter school. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education from the University of North Florida and a master’s degree in Education Policy from the Florida State University.