New Sherman Avenue principal has wealth of experience on which to draw

Published 6:59 pm Monday, August 21, 2017

Tameka Davis has worked in every level of education during her career, from teaching and being a principal at the elementary level to four years working as an assistant principal at the high school level.

As she takes over as the new principal at Sherman Avenue Elementary for the 2017-18 school year, her plan is to use that wealth of experience to help build a solid foundation for every student that comes through her school.

“Working on every level helps you to see the big picture,” Davis said. “You know what will happen if something doesn’t take place prior to them getting to a certain spot. It helps to understand why you do what you do. Why you need to make certain decisions and what happens when children aren’t educated to their potential.”

Davis began her first stint with the Vicksburg Warren School District in 2007 as a middle school English teacher before moving to Louisiana in an administrative role. She returned to VWSD five years ago as the lead teacher at Warren Central Junior High School before spending the last four years as an assistant principal at Vicksburg High School, her alma mater.

“It opened my eyes and it allowed me to really feel the struggles that some of those students have when they are not prepared to take or pass those state tests,” Davis said of her time at VHS. “A lot of that has to do with the deficiencies in reading.”

From day one at Sherman, Davis implemented a plan to help increase the reading and math abilities of the students, while also helping them to learn in new ways.

“My faculty can tell you, my expectations are very, very high for my students as well as the teachers,” Davis said. “Our motto this year is ‘We grow leaders.’ It is on the outside of our building and I really believe that. I am not just talking about my students. I am talking about my teachers as well.”

One of the major changes she made was the implementation of thematic units. Each month of the school year will have an overarching theme. Each week during the month will have a different topic based around the month-long theme.

“One theme may be farms and the theme will talk about the equipment on the farm,” Davis said. “We will talk about the animals. In the STEM lab, they may hatch chickens. They may do various types of experiments.”

The plan is to incorporate the theme across all the subject areas so what students are learning in science influences what they are reading in English.

“We are going to work very closely with the library as well. Whatever thematic unit we are doing that month, the library will support it with literature,” Davis said. “In essence, our vision at Sherman is to take all the disciplines and all the things they learn and put them together. We want to make sure they are able to connect the dots and have a hands on approach to their learning.”

In order for the thematic units to have their desired impact, the teachers across the disciplines will have to work together, which is one of the expectations Davis has for her staff this year.

“I believe in being on one accord and working as a team because the things I am expecting them to do, if they don’t work as a team they will become overwhelmed,” she said. “Children don’t know what they can’t do. It is up to us as adults and how dare us tell a child what they can’t learn.”

From the curriculum to new paint on the walls, there were a lot of changes to Sherman Avenue over the summer. Davis said when she walked into the school the first time and saw all the different colors on the walls, it showed her the school was not all on one page and working together as a team. So a new coat of paint was put on the walls and the teachers worked to decorate the halls using the theme for the year ‘Sailing into leadership.’

“I am changing a lot and I want people to know that Sherman is on the rise and we are doing a lot of things differently,” Davis said. “I want our students to be able to achieve any goal that they want to achieve in life. Part of that is having a good foundation of reading and math, but it is also giving them the confidence they need as they go higher in their educational career.”