Second-graders can be a very discerning bunch. And so when they were asked to call out words to describe teacher aide Tina Davis, the truth came out.
“Loving, caring, funny, beautiful, kind, hard worker… doesn't like taco day.”
Tacos aside, Mrs. Davis is best known for her lunchroom duties and study buddies (homework help) within her 15 years of service to Glens Falls City School District.
“I would say that the little things are what the children appreciate the most,” Mrs. Davis says. “They know I am happy to see them. We play games during lunch whether it’s coloring, Hangman, Would You Rather, or Are you Smarter than A 5th Grader. I have shoe-tying time where the older kids tie the younger kids’ shoes. You would be surprised at how much anxiety not being able to tie your shoes can create. It is a wonderful way to teach children that helping others is kindness in action.”
“We have created jobs for our students such as Kindergarten Helpers, Garbage Helpers and more,” Mrs. Davis continues. “I always want the children to understand that we are a community. If I need help, I ask them. If I make a mistake, I apologize. I am always reinforcing that we can make mistakes. It is okay. It is how we move forward that is most important. We are in this together. We need to respect our school and each other.”
It is clear that Mrs. Davis has earned deep respect from her colleagues, parents and students alike. “Tina goes above and beyond each day to make sure that every student is thought of,” says principal Debbie Hall. “She takes the time to get to know students by name and to make sure they feel cared for, even when they are having a difficult time.”
Mrs. Davis has served in many areas within Big Cross over the years. “She has wonderful gift for working with students on skills, and handling an entire crew in the lunch room,” says teacher Nadia Maroun. “She helps daily in my kindergarten classroom where she works endlessly to reinforce the kindergarten skill being taught,” echos teacher Tracy Capozucca.
“When I started this journey back in 1999, I had left a job as a department manager for a medical billing company,” Mrs. Davis says. “I always thought that I would eventually go back to that career, but I fell in love with the students and staff at Big Cross. I bought a house in this district because I believed in this school. I wanted my own children to experience a neighborhood school, a sense of community.”
She notes that school has become much busier over the last decade. “I notice that what the kids want more than anything is to feel a connection, to be seen, heard,” she says. “This year my schedule changed to include door duty. It is one of my favorite times of the day. It gives me the opportunity to talk with them, to listen to their stories. I am able to tell every child that walks by me ‘Have a nice day! See you in a couple hours.’ Or if they are having a difficult morning, ‘Are you okay? Can I help?’ Years ago I had a fifth grade student who I would see at the end of the day for homework help and I would always ask her ‘How was your day?’ One day she asked me why I always asked her this. I told her because I care. She looked at me and said ‘Mrs. Davis, you are the only one who ever asks me how I am.’ She taught me so much that day. We all want to connect.”
“She is one of the most warm, caring individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing and being blessed to work with each day,” says Mrs. Capuzucca, who had both of her daughters as students. “She helps to make Big Cross so special!”
“The students would laugh at my comments because they know I am mushy,” says Mrs. Davis. “They know I will probably cry at every holiday concert and 4th grade graduation. They know 5,4,3,2,1 means get quiet. They know I will expect them to say hello to me when they are all grown up and I see them at the grocery store. They know that I care about them and believe in them. They know we are a community, a family. And that is what I find most rewarding.”
Mrs. Davis has a life philosophy that each day starts with
a fresh slate. So maybe there’s hope for taco day after all.