The irony that Marie Davis is a successful high school principal who didn’t like going to school as a teenager isn’t lost on her. Davis is upfront about the fact that she was going to school just to get through school. It was her computer processing teacher at the Harry B. Ward Technical Center who made her realize that if she would have to go to work every day, she might as well do something she liked.
“She was a major influence on me,” Davis explained. She was also the reason Davis began teaching, even though she had no intention of going into education. Her original plan was to work in the computer industry. After she graduated, her teacher recommended that she teach the ESBOCES Adult Education evening Basic Computer class. “I thought she was out of her mind!” said Davis. ” I felt I was too young to be a teacher, but she said I knew my stuff.” So, Davis taught basic computer classes at night and went to school to earn her associate degree in computer information systems during the day.
It wasn’t long after she began working in the industry that Davis realized that education was where she belonged. “At one point I asked myself, ‘What am I doing?’ I loved teaching Adult Ed,” she said. Davis returned to school and successively earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and Administrative Certificate, and became certified in special education, business education, and reading. As she was traveling down that road, she continued to teach Adult Ed and then worked as an aide and an assistant at Westhampton Beach Learning Center.
When asked why she chose to return to education, Davis explained that it was the feeling she got when her students began to realize their potential and that they could learn. “That is what I loved about it,” she said.
After she graduated, Davis headed back to Ward Technical Center to work as a teacher and then a principal with a mission to empower young adults in the way that her former CTE teacher motivated her. She knew that by the time many students reached high school, they no longer had the same enthusiasm for school that they had when they were younger. She intended to change that.
“I realized that I could have more of an impact on more students as an administrator. When you’re an administrator, it’s the bad kids who are sent to you, not the good ones. Those are the kids who I could really help,” she said.
As a principal, Davis makes a point to have regular conversations with her students about how now is the time in their lives to make the right choices. “I tell them they can’t pick where they started out in life but they can choose where they want to go,” she said. And, like her teacher before her, she helps them to figure out what they like and what they want to study.