English 10 teacher Jacqueline Davis to leave PA after 27 years teaching


Ms. Davis working with students during one of her classes. Photo by Kendall Peterson.

Kendall Peterson, Staff Writer

By Kendall Peterson

After 27 years of teaching almost every grade level and teaching only at PA, Honors English 10 teacher Jacqueline Davis is leaving her students with her favorite quote: “When you know better, you do better.”

Davis has announced that she will be leaving PA and this is her last year as a Cavalier.

Davis taught IB English for 15 years as well as Honors 10, 11, and English 12. She attended the University of Alabama, joined the Navy, and received her final degree from ODU.

Davis says, “I honestly think teaching is a calling, I don’t think everybody could do this, so I think I fulfilled my calling in life to teach. My goal was to teach two more years, but it’s time.”

Davis has also won several accolades such as some Distinguished Educator awards and two Great Dreams Great Teachers awards. Most notably, she was recognized as 2012 Teacher of the Year.

“I think recognition is really important to teachers because it keeps you motivated, but I don’t like being the center of attention, so it’s like saying ‘good job’ and then moving on.”

Davis is going to miss “seeing students when the lightbulb comes on because that is my favorite part of teaching. The best experiences will be the teaching process when the students get it.”

Davis planned on teaching another two years, but she said, “I want to do something else. I want to continue teaching, but I’ve decided that I want to retire from Virginia Beach Schools and retire from teaching at Princess Anne High School. This chapter has closed,” said Davis.

Another thing Davis is going to miss is “teaching with the teachers here because I get a lot of ideas from other teachers and they make me feel like I can do this and do this well.”

Even though Davis likes structure and order, she has “learned to be more flexible because you have to. There are a lot of caring people here and I’ve learned that sometimes when you think you’re having a bad day and you talk to someone else, you realize that your life is pretty good.”

Senior Deanna Thoma said her favorite memory of Davis is “when we were presenting our Caesar video projects and her face when she saw my friends and I dressed up as the Kardashians and she saw us beating each other up and she started freaking out. Honestly, she is a very dramatic over-the-top person so every class with her was amazing.”

“I have a lot of students who, over the last 27 years,” said Davis, “have just been these wonderful people and they’ve gone on to do great things. I always tell my students, ‘If you’re ever on TV, say Ms. Davis, thank you for teaching me!’”

Senior Carley Bede’s favorite memory of Davis is when she read her AP English 12 essay. “She almost got tears in her eyes because she looked at me and she said that she never gets to see the final product, and she was talking about how my writing has become phenomenal and that I have really developed. She wishes that she could let me read my 10th grade writing because the improvement is amazing…it really just showed her the sort of impact that she has and seeing how proud she was of me,” said Bede.

However, one thing Davis is not going to miss is “waking up at 5:30 in the morning,” she said.

“My favorite thing about [Davis] is the fact that she doesn’t base her opinion about people off of their grades. I had a horrible grade in her class and she treated me like one of her children,” Thoma said.

Davis’s ninth grade English teacher had a great influence on her decision to become a teacher. “She was absolutely outstanding, and I remember one day answering a question, and she asked me after answering the question, ‘So where are you going to college?’ and I had never thought that I could go to college, because nobody has ever told me that. I said ‘I don’t know,’ and she said, ‘Okay, after this block, go get your lunch, and come back so we can talk about college.’ She talked to me about college until I applied to the University of Alabama, but I’m very grateful for her, so sometimes when I’m nagging my students about stuff, I think about her.”

Davis has faced challenges throughout her many years of teaching. She believes that “students should come to school ready to learn, and make mistakes.”

Davis, known as a strict but fair teacher who earns the respect of her students, said,”I just think that discipline is something that should not take the place of learning in a classroom. You should not be able to stop another child from learning, so that’s really important to me,” she said.

Davis said, “I need structure, and they do too. I think students work best when there’s some order. I don’t think anybody works best in chaos.”

One of Bede’s favorite things about Davis is “her compassion. She cares about her students way past just their academics. She genuinely cares about a student’s life and making sure that they’re okay at home, and doing anything in her power to make sure that you feel like somebody cares about you because she really does. She puts compassion to a whole new level.”

Davis enjoys teaching 10th grade because, “I like the curriculum,” which is focused on World Literature, which “is more exciting, and you have more choices,” Davis said.

Bede has learned to be “bold and be strong in who I am. Ms. Davis is unapologetic for the person that she is and she owns herself and all of her strengths and her weaknesses, and I think that that can be really hard for some people and it’s hard for me but she’s just showed me how to be strong and be bold in who I am, which that I am also incredibly grateful for.”

Ultimately, Davis will miss “the students, because that’s why I teach. The friends that I’ve made here will continue, so that’s not a problem, but I will miss my students.”

Bede knows that “when I walk into school, there is an adult there that cares about me, and cares about my safety, and will be there for anything that I need. I know that I can go to Ms. Davis and talk to her about anything that’s happening in my life, and she will be there and listen and offer as much support as she can. It just makes school feel safer and more at home knowing that there’s a teacher there that cares about you so much.”

Davis has even inspired Bede to teach. “She really just inspires me to be a teacher that cares and be a teacher that cares beyond the classroom because that’s exactly the kind of teacher that she is. I want to be the teacher that kids talk about how amazing they are, not just as a teacher, but as a person.”

Before Davis leaves, Thoma wants her to know that she is thankful for her “being someone I can talk to and giving advice that I always need but don’t always want to hear.”

“She has made me the student that I am. She made me push myself in 10 grade,” said Bede, “when I felt that I wasn’t smart enough to do 10th grade Honors english. She really made me the student that I am, the person that I am. She’s impacted me in ways that I can’t even begin to talk about.”

Davis wants her students to know “that no matter what happens in life, you’re going to make mistakes, but once you make those mistakes, learn from it, and move on.”