I want to start this article off with a personal story.
Currently I am a sophomore at Summit Shasta. This school was drastically different from any other school I had attended.
Firstly, it was small. Small enough where I could learn everyone’s names in all my classes. As a freshman, I knew people from all grade levels without even trying.
Most importantly, the teachers seemed to care an odd amount.
In my old schools, my teachers didn’t even know my name long enough to last the whole period. Everything was fast paced and disconnected. Oftentimes I felt helpless and alone.
I learned to work better by myself. I did not talk in class and it was easier to just struggle than to ever ask for help. In previous schools, it was a whole process to ask a teacher for anything.
At Shasta, teachers offered it for free.
Not only that, but they seemed to go out of their way to help.
I didn’t even know what a mentor was until orientation, when Mr. Davey was assigned to be mine.
I was stuck with a group of other students, most of which seemed as guarded and afraid as I was.
I remember in the mornings when we all sat in class while Mr. Davey desperately tried to get us to bond, or at least talk to one another.
I have only had him as a mentor for two years but in those two years our group became a family.
Earlier this month, he announced to us that he would be leaving.
Bradley Davey is the junior chemistry teacher. Since the opening of Shasta, he has been there and now it is his time to leave.
Obviously, we were all shocked.
None of us wants a new mentor and with all the change happening in the world, we certainly did not need that in our school life.
Melina De Souza states, “Initially I was really upset, and I did cry about it, because it was hard to think about what our class would be like without him, but I know that he’s doing this to better his future, and I am happy for him.”
Everyone in the mentor group was distressed by the news of his leaving and some feel as if the person who replaces him will not be able to live up to his standards.
Alex Diaz does not want to go through the process of getting to know a new mentor: “It’ll be harder to bond with our new mentor […] Mr. Davey definitely helped us bond with each other.”
De Souza hopes for a good mentor: “Whoever our new mentor is, I hope they are nice, but are strict at the same time. I hope it is still an environment like how Mr. Davey will leave it.”
The sudden change was a surprise. When the mentor group was told Davey wouldn’t return it was just silent. No one knew what to say and we all wondered what this would mean for our future at Shasta.
Ella Rodrigues says, “I feel sad that Mr. Davey is leaving […] he was a huge fixture in my life […] He really understands us and what we are going through. He would joke around with us and always knew what to say […] I’m going to miss him.”
One thing we can all agree on is that Mr. Davey was definitely different.
De Souza says, “[He] really did care about us and he always was there to talk with us. I’ve had teachers that were somewhat like him in the past, but they weren’t as caring and loving as Mr. Davey is.”
McKenna Seegmiller wants him to know “that no matter how much we tease him, I really appreciate everything he’s done for us and I’m grateful that he was able to be our Shasta mentor even for a little bit.”
Earlier this week, I got to ask him why he was leaving Shasta and what his plans are.
(Davey’s answers will be in bold)
Q: Why are you leaving?
A: The Bay Area doesn’t feel like home to me. I have very much enjoyed my time here, but in many ways I feel that I’ve maximized many of the opportunities that the Bay Area offers. Personally and professionally, I feel that I have grown less and less each year. My personal and professional growth are very important to me, and moving out of the Bay Area, and moving into a new career path will help me grow into a better person who is capable of having a greater impact on the world.
Q: Where are you going?
A: Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois
Q: What are your plans
A: I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to have a good life, and that an amazing education is the clearest pathway to that good life. There are many things that go into delivering a high-quality education, but for me (and according to much research), the most important aspect of a student’s education is access to effective teachers. Simply put, America has a teacher crisis: We have too few teachers, too many unqualified teachers, and we lack clear pathways for beginning teachers to improve their practice. I believe America has a culture that massively misunderstands teachers, and we incorrectly believe that teachers are born, rather than made. I think that with the right support, teachers can become excellent. I hope to learn during my PhD what support is most meaningful to a teacher’s development, and how to scale those practices up.
Q: What would you like to say to the remaining students
A: I see too many young people who don’t take ownership and control of their lives. This makes sense. For most of your life you have not made your own decisions. You’ve been micromanaged by adults, told to sit quietly, do your work, and stay out of trouble. I think this is a massive disservice to you, your future, and our society. We need young people to be involved in decision making, to call out poor teachers, challenge racist and inequitable systems of education, and we need you to be involved in your community. So my advice is this: Take ownership of your life; you have much more power than you realize. As you do this, please realize that teachers are your allies, not your enemies. Use us to support you. As an actionable step, find a volunteer opportunity in your community and work to improve your community.
Q: Do you know who is going to take your job?
A: Mr. Maita will be taking over my mentor group. I don’t know who will be teaching chemistry.
Q: What would you want our next mentor to know?
A: I want your next mentor to know that although we expect you to be self-starting, college-ready learners, the reality is that most of you are not there yet. You need support, and I hope they provide you with the support that you need, in a way that also helps you grow and be a better learner.
Q: Do you plan to keep in touch with remaining students? How can they contact you?
A: I plan to e-mail students my contact information.
Even though he will no longer be our mentor next year, everyone greatly appreciates all he has done for us.
It is always sad to see people leave but even if he is thousands of miles from us, he is also just a phone call away.
Goodbye Mr. Davey, we will miss you.
Featured Image: UNLV