A group of Davis’ family and friends, along with hundreds of teachers from around the state, were on-hand to celebrate his achievement following the program.
The announcement was made by Karin Darmanin, Macy’s senior vice president and regional director of Stores, and incoming Florida Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson.
“Teachers generously give of themselves everyday to educate children, elevating and empowering future generations to achieve great things,” Darmanin said. “Macy’s is thankful to have the opportunity to celebrate with and honor Alvin Davis for his dedication and commitment to education and for always helping his students reach for the stars.”
This marks the 23rd year of Macy’s sponsorship of the Florida Teacher of the Year program. The company presented Davis with a check for $10,000, a wardrobe valued at $1,000, a second check for $1,000 for his school and an all-expenses-paid trip for four to New York City to attend this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Two other African Americans were among the five finalists in the running for the top prize: Lora McCalister-Cruel, a teacher at Crawford Mosley High School in Bay County, and Tracy Staley, a teacher at Ponce de Leon Elementary School of Pinellas County.
Davis has been a music educator for 10 years and this is not the first time he has won recognition for his efforts to use music to reinforce the skills learned in other classes.
He was selected as the 2011 Broward County Teacher of the Year and he received the African-American Community Unsung Hero Award in 2010. He is the Florida Music Education Association Black Caucus South Florida representative and has been a guest
lecturer and conductor at Florida A&M University for the past eight years.
He hopes to develop an academic-centered music program that focuses on three areas: academics, discipline and musicality. For the past three years, every student who regularly participated in the Miramar Band Program has been accepted to a post-secondary education institution or program.
That success is due largely to Davis’s rules that govern his program: Every student receives one-on-one counseling with a member of the band staff and Davis himself reviews a copy of every band member’s report card and interim reports.
Also, every after-school band rehearsal includes a one-hour study hall where students take part in peer tutoring and additional tutoring is provided after rehearsal, as needed.
Davis even keeps a resource library of every textbook of every class the school offers.
And all his students who are seniors must show proof that they have registered for the SAT or ACT in order to be allowed to perform. By January, they must prove that they have applied to a college or university.
“As a 21st century music educator, I believe it is my duty and obligation to be committed to the entire educational welfare of a student,” Davis says. “It’s not enough to just teach music. I believe it is also my duty to reinforce the skills learned in other classes. I want my students to not only achieve in my classroom but also in life. We need to remember as educators that we are preparing generations not to just appreciate and imbibe a liberal art, but also learn how to live and be successful in whatever becomes their chosen patch in life.”
Robinson described Davis as embodying “the core principles and selfless dedication it takes to be a great teacher,” adding, “I know he will make all of us proud as he embarks on this year-long journey to inspire his colleagues and promote the life-changing power of a high quality education.”
In May, Macy’s awarded $5,000 to the finalists: McCalister-Cruel, Staley, Belinda Nease of Southside Elementary School in Nassau County and Stephanie Thetford of Fort Walton Beach High School in Okaloosa County. Their schools got $1,000 each.
Macy’s has annually contributed $100,000 to the state-run Teacher of the Year program, making it one of the largest corporate cash contributions to Florida public schools. To date, the company has contributed more than $2 million to teachers throughout the state.
During the awards ceremony, 67 district winners were recognized and received $750 each from Macy’s, plus $250 for programs at their respective schools.
The Florida Teacher of the Year is chosen from more than 180,000 public school teachers throughout the state by a Department of Education-appointed selection committee representing teachers, principals, parents and the business community.
The winner is selected on the basis of the superior ability to teach and communicate knowledge of the subject taught, professional development, philosophy of teaching and outstanding school and community service.
The most important qualification is the teacher’s ability to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.
Photo by: PHELAN EBENHACK/COURTESY OF MACY’S