Recently, the six schools in the Milford School District announced their nominees for Teacher of the Year. The six nominees will compete for the title of District Teacher of the Year which will be announced in May. Lulu Ross Elementary’s nominee Michele Davis is proud to have been chosen as the nominee for the 2016-’17 school year.
Davis began her career at Lulu Ross Elementary School, not as an employee, but as first grade student. To this day, as she walks the halls she can remember laughs with friends and teachers who left lasting impressions on her. After graduating from Milford High School in 2000 Davis attended college in South Carolina, Oregon, and finished with a Bachelor’s in Economics from the University of Delaware. It was at this time, while searching for a full-time career, that she began as a reading tutor at Lulu Ross.
“From that point on my path in life became clear, I wanted to be a teacher. I eventually became an instructional paraprofessional, and then a one on one paraprofessional at Ross,” said Davis. While working as a paraprofessional she earned her Masters in Special Education from Wilmington University with a certification in General Education. She has been teaching at Lulu M. Ross Elementary ever since.
Davis is an advocate for inclusion and acceptance and able to further this platform through the school’s Special Olympics program and Project Unify Club. She chairs Lulu Ross’ Parental Involvement Committee, a committee that puts on the school’s spring Carnival and fall Family Night activities. “I love being involved in school, district, and state level committees and happenings; it gives me a sense of pride to have a small hand in the development of our community,” said Davis. “Lastly, at the end of the day, I see my role as working to help empower the students I work with to become compassionate, kind, hardworking, and productive human beings.”
Being named Teacher of the Year was “truly an honor” for Davis as she believes to be fortunate to work in a building where her colleagues are not only coworkers but family. “On many occasions, I have told the students in my classes to surround themselves with people who make them feel good, and who encourage them to strive to be a better person,” said Davis. “For that very reason, I stay at Ross and with the Milford School District. The staff at Lulu, and all over the district are an amazing, hardworking, and compassionate group of individuals who I am proud to tell others are members of my family. They empower me to be a better teacher, and person every day.”
Feeling that the profession of teaching chose her, Davis enjoys the profession each day as she believes that there is always something to celebrate. “There is always a student having an “AHA” moment, being curious and wanting to learn more, achieving a personal goal, and/ or doing something they previously did not think they could,” said Davis. “Teaching provides me an opportunity to stay connected with my community, and gives me the opportunity to make a small imprint on the students I work with.”
The biggest challenge for Davis is time. “As teachers, our job does not just include instruction of standards and objectives. We are the proverbial “Jack of all trades” each day. Many days we become nurse, seamstress, counselor, problem solver, test prep analyst, advice provider, negotiator, caretaker, and friend,” said Davis. “It is a challenge to find balance between taking the time truly needed for students to acquire a concept, and continuing to move forward ensuring they are provided with all of the material required in a year.”
Inspiring Davis in the field of education are her students. “Each day they come in with a curiosity that far exceeds the extent to which my mind thinks. They tell stories filled with vibrant details, persevere through challenges, and learn how to tackle all of the curveballs life throws at them one day at a time,” she said. “Their resilience when facing new material and high stakes assessments is unmatched.”
For new and aspiring teachers, Davis states that they should understand that teaching is a challenging, yet overwhelmingly rewarding profession. The returns and celebrations far outweigh the obstacles teachers face on a daily basis. “My best advice would be to stand firm in your own philosophy of education, and to not allow their convictions to waiver in the face of adversity,” she said. “Veteran teachers have days when they are down and feel overwhelmed. I would encourage them to rely on your colleagues, they are your best ally. I would advise new teachers to look, listen, and take in all that is around them. There is an opportunity to learn every day, from the triumphs and challenges of others. In addition, I would encourage new teachers to ask for help.”
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