‘Every day is like an adventure’
(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) April 29, 2021 will be one of these special days for Bray Elementary School First Grade Teacher Ebonie Davis. The type of days that you remember in the same way as a wedding anniversary or family birthdays.
Davis and her family were huddled around the computer that evening, awaiting Cedar Hill Independent School’s 2020-2021 Elementary Teacher of the Year Announcement.
When she heard her name, Davis was overcome with emotion.
“I started crying, and I think I cried for a good 15 minutes,” said Davis, who is also a CHISD parent. “Teaching is not just teaching for me. I love teaching. This honor means everything to me. I can’t sing, I can’t dance. I can’t drive a bus. But I can teach.”
Davis had always aspired to receive this honor, having created a “Vision Board” a few years ago with the goal of making it happen.
“I love first grade – it’s one of the most important grades as far as academics,” Davis said. “Every day is like an adventure.”
Relentless Drive For Self-Improvement
An outsized ability to care for scholars and a relentless drive for self-improvement are hallmarks of Davis’ career as a professional educator.
“Being a good teacher means self-reflection,” Davis said. “I look at the lessons, and I look at scholars’ growth. Then, I ask myself, ‘is there a book I need to read’? What kind of professional development do I need? I noticed the traits of great teachers and tried to meld my ideas with their ideas.”
Davis, the daughter of a bank employee and a custodian, is a first generation college graduate who ranked 10th in her graduating class at Carter High School in Dallas.
She, along with her best friend (the Carter High Valedictorian) decided to attend the University of Texas together. While she loved her time in Austin, she knew that strong family days would convince her to build a career in the Dallas area.
It was in Dallas that she began her career, working alongside her own Kindergarten Teacher.
Inspired By Her Own Teachers
Prince Anderson, her third grade teacher, impacted Davis in several ways.
“He taught me that nothing in life is going to come easily, and that I have to work for it,” Davis said. “He still sends my grandmother Christmas Cards,”
Davis earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Concordia University and would like to someday mentor teachers as an instructional coach.
Mentoring fellow teachers would not be a large departure for Davis. She tries to lend a helping hand, in her current role.
“When I started as a substitute teacher, one of my first assignments was with a teacher whose classroom was next door to Ms. Davis,” colleague Krystyna Johnson said. “That teacher left the sub plans, but Ms. Davis still took it upon herself to walk me through the day and help in any way she could. The scholars loved her and responded so well to all of her directions.”
Teaching Since She was Three
One person who is not the least bit surprised by Davis’ exceptional journey is her mother, Allison Allison, who remembers one of Davis’ early Christmas requests: A chalkboard and chalk.
“Ebonie has been teaching since she was 3 years old,” Allison said. “She would line her dolls up with the front door with books and paper. She always wanted to play teacher with her friends.”
Allison has watched her daughter grow from a child develop that interest in education and become a better teacher with each passing year.
“It’s been really amazing to see Ebonie grow, because she’s always loved kids,” Allison said. “Anytime there are children around she has open arms for them. To see her grow from a young person with the same attitude starting out has been gratifying knowing she has never changed when it came to her love for children.”
Adapting To Virtual
Davis was always confident in her abilities as a classroom teacher, but she was nervous about educating her scholars when the COVID-19 Pandemic began affecting North Texas in March 2020.
Davis quickly adapted to having some scholars who were in the classroom and others who were virtual.
She also had to deal with the challenge of scholars who were all virtual during the final few months of the 2019-2020 school year.
“I had to teach things that they didn’t get a chance to learn in Kindergarten,” Davis said. “I ensured that scholars online and in class were getting the same education.”
Receiving the Teacher of the Year honor in a Pandemic year made it even more meaningful for Davis.
“I’ve been working so hard, and still thinking to myself ‘I’m not doing this and this’,” Davis said. “If I would have received it another year, I would be excited. But this year, I was like ‘wow’.”
A Personal Approach That Scholars Love
Kevondra McGrew, parent of Kaidence McGrew (one of Davis’ scholars), was thoroughly impressed with Davis’ approach to teaching all scholars – in-person and virtual.
“At first, my daughter wasn’t into the virtual thing,” McGrew said. “Ms. Davis has made her feel like she was in the classroom. She would have the exact same tools of the scholars who were in the classroom. I love her. She’s soft spoken, and she knows how to connect with the kids. She Learned so much – just virtual. She taught me some stuff. It’s been really awesome working with her.”
McGrew’s sister-in-law, Alzena McGrew, did not have a child in Davis’ class, but that doesn’t mean they were not impacted by her.
“When my child’s teacher was out, my son, Geordon, was allowed to join Ms. Davis’ class in her live sessions, and she was amazing,” Alzena said. “He went over to his cousin Kaidence’s house. Ms. Davis encouraged and welcomed him with a smile, on the live call.”
Fellow parent Amanda Jacquez successfully nominated Davis for one of the inaugural HOOPLA Awards this year.
“I used to have a hard time getting my son to want to wake up for school,” Jacquez said. “He did classes virtually, and with Ms. Davis, he would wake up for school and was ready to go. Her passion for teaching made such a difference. She would make videos and explain any questions he had. She was kind, and she made learning fun for him. I am so happy that she won Elementary Teacher of the Year.”