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Middle school principal oversees school environment built on mutual respect

Sierra Middle School Principal Michelle Davis

PARKER – Connecting with the person leads to connecting the person to learning. Getting to know people is a priority for Sierra Middle School Principal Michelle Davis, as well as the teachers and students and the school.

Davis grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota, and it was during elementary school that she began to realize that her future would follow a path toward education.

“My fourth-grade teacher had a positive impact on me,” Davis said, explaining the origin of her career. “She took time to get to know me as a person and as a learner, and to provide me with opportunities that challenged me as a learner.”

Q & A with Michelle Davis

What was your first job?
I worked at the Rushmore Mall in Rapid City selling Black Hills Gold jewelry during the summer.

If you had the opportunity to pursue another career, what would you choose?
I would study law; it has always been an interest of mine.

What advice would you share with a college graduate entering field of teaching?
Take time to get to know your students and build positive relationships so that you have a safe culture in which students can learn.

Who inspires you?
My children inspire me to try new things and to continue to learn.

Have you recently seen a movie that left a lasting impression with you?
Yes; The Theory of Everything (the story of Stephen Hawking) is a great example of how people can overcome obstacles and make great contributions to the world around them.

What is the last book you read?
Professionally: Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan William
Personally: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

What was your first car?
The first car I had to use was a Ford Fiesta I shared with my brother. When I was hired for my first teaching job, I bought a Mercury Tracer.

What is your favorite store to browse?  
Barnes and Noble

Do you have a favorite Colorado getaway
Going to Rockies games is a quick, fun getaway that I enjoy with my family.

What is your favorite restaurant?  
I really enjoy going to Big Bill’s for pizza with my family.

What is your favorite quote?
I like a lot of Walt Disney’s quotes, for example:
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." – Walt Disney

Do you have any pets that enrich your life?
I have a Great Pyrenees/Australian Shepherd mix named Sam.

Davis attended the University of South Dakota where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in English, and earned a certificate in education. She also  earned a Master of Science in Education degree from Chadron State College.

Casper, Wyoming became home to Davis, where she spent nine years teaching eighth- and ninth-graders U.S. History, and then served as an assistant principal. Davis and her husband relocated to Colorado in 2002, and she joined the team at Sierra in the role of assistant principal. Her husband accepted a teaching job at Mountain Ridge Middle School, where he continues to teach today. In 2007, Davis was selected to become the principal at Sierra.

“My prior experience has helped me to develop relationships as well as skills that can be applied in my daily work as a principal,” Davis reflected. “Having experience as a teacher and having many different responsibilities as an assistant principal provided a broad view of how schools work.”

Davis approaches her role at Sierra with a student-centered philosophy: “Meet students where they are and help them reach their potential. This includes the academic and social-emotional realms as well as extracurricular opportunities.”

“Getting to know people is a priority at Sierra,” Davis continued. “We engage in activities with staff at the beginning of the year to help staff members get to know one another, and we try to include brief ‘mixer’ activities throughout the year. Teachers take time to get to know students at the beginning of the year and build relationships with them, as well as having students participate in team-building activities with one another.”

The staff at Sierra also use restorative practices to support student achievement, as well as a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports) model to communicate and reinforce how we treat one another in the school setting.

“Teachers also work with students to help them learn about the world around them, and I think this helps students recognize they can make a difference through their actions toward others. Students and staff share that they feel like Sierra is special because of how people treat one another and support one another,” Davis added.

Davis illustrates her point using the example of the schools’ annual holiday bazaar.

“This is an opportunity in which students showcase their creativity and demonstrate their learning while also raising money for charity. This is a rewarding experience for everyone involved.”

Davis often finds her job to be rewarding. When asked what she enjoys most about her job, her answer was quick: “Middle school kids!”

April 15, 2015 | By SCPaulsen | Category: District, Middle School Education

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