By Emily Reed
Each day holds something different for Dr. Jennifer “JiJi” Davis ’99 M.Ed. ’01, as she keeps her eye on the future by preparing tomorrow’s educators to achieve success wherever life takes them after college.
In her 11th year of teaching at UM, Davis works to build partnerships between the University and Montevallo Elementary, Middle and High Schools through the Montevallo Connection program. She also coordinates student teacher placements throughout the area.
Montevallo Connection hosts meetings each academic year at the city’s three schools bringing UM faculty and staff together with school teachers, administrators and community members. The meetings help University employees learn the needs present in each school and how they can help to meet them.
Fostering those connections comes naturally for Davis, who has lived in Montevallo since she was 18. Her husband, Brad, is the city’s fire chief. Davis previously taught at MES and her children attend Montevallo schools.
“I feel very strongly about the connection between UM and the city. There are so many ways in which these partnerships exist every day from UM students tutoring at MES, UM athletes assisting with local teams, UM students’ altering MHS students’ prom dresses and more,” she said. “We are all so very fortunate to have such amazing resources and relationships within our small community.”
Davis’ goal for UM education graduates is to never give up on making an impact on a student’s life.
“Even the most difficult students will always remember the teachers that didn’t give up on them,” Davis said. “I always tell my students to teach your students well, but always love them more.”
New teachers entering the classroom are often excited to have the dream job they have worked so hard for, but Davis said oftentimes challenges such as learning to balance classroom management, standardized testing, car rider duty, an overbearing parent or new mandated curriculums can often be overwhelming.
“New teachers still love the job and the students, but trying to make it all look easy and organized is a tremendous task that takes a few years to master,” Davis said.
When she is not teaching, Davis can most likely be found spending time with her family.
Davis said one of the greatest rewards of being a professor at UM is having the opportunity to give back to the institution that shaped who she is as a teacher now.
For those considering a degree in elementary education, Davis said the career is extremely rewarding.
“Teaching is much more than a job, it is a true calling,” Davis said. “When I actually stop to think that I could retire in five years, I am so amazed. Time flies when you love your profession. I am so very thankful for all of the previous students and co-workers that have impacted my life in a very meaningful way.”