Helping young people turn their lives around is Shana Davis’ mission at the alternative-education site of T.F. Riggs High School. Thanks to the former Army reservist and Iraq war veteran’s caring, nonjudgmental but firm guidance, even those who’ve come out of the corrections system show up in class every day, earn diplomas and go on to college or enter the workforce. Davis, an English teacher who has taught for 12 years, jumped at the chance five years ago to help create and lead the alternative school program. From an at-risk background herself, she develops relationships with young people, empowering them to believe in themselves. She tries various teaching methods, sets frequent goals to keep students on track and, when called for, meets with probation officers monthly. For those who show initiative, Davis will do whatever it takes.
Quite the role model, Davis received a leadership medal for service in Iraq and proudly displays her Army unit flag in the classroom. She is studying for a master’s degree while working as late as 10 p.m., always seeking ways to improve the system and help students. At Riggs, she also runs the after-school program and is the high school’s summer-school director.
Before the alternative site opened, students who failed a class had no recourse during the school year to recover lost credits. Now an average of 50 credits, or 100 classes, are recovered each school year. Last year Davis helped serve 125 students, and 55.5 credits, or 111 classes, were recovered.
Davis makes every effort to communicate with and involve parents, even in cases where home life might not be ideal. Among colleagues, she is the go-to person for curricular and academic questions on at-risk learners. She is a member of the Community/Law Enforcement/School Team investigating alternatives to detention, and leads the Riggs Student/Teacher Assistance Team, which seeks solutions to challenges that students face. Davis works with the U.S. Department of Labor, providing test cases of students who combine work and school. She is the district curriculum leader for online learning and is arranging training for teachers in the online learning program Edgenuity. She has presented at the Technology and Innovation in Education conference and brims with ideas to share with staff after attending such conferences. It’s no surprise that Shana Davis is considered “a one-in-a-million teacher.”
Nov 22, 2013
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2020 Ed. S., Educational Administration, University of South Dakota
2014 M.A., Educational Administration, University of South Dakota
2001 B.S., Secondary Education, Pennsylvania State University