Middle school principal oversees school environment built on mutual respect
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?
If you had the opportunity to pursue another career, what would you choose?
What advice would you share with a college graduate entering field of teaching?
Who inspires you?
Have you recently seen a movie that left a lasting impression with you?
What is the last book you read?
What was your first car?
What is your favorite store to browse?
Do you have a favorite Colorado getaway
What is your favorite restaurant?
What is your favorite quote?
Do you have any pets that enrich your life?
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!”