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Sheri Davis

Sheri Davis

Teacher & School Board Member

Born: New York City, NY, United States
Heritage: African American

Try to get as much information about what you are learning. You have access to so many opportunities—not only the library, but also the Internet. As you access information you don’t want a tidbit of information. You want as much as you can get and use it to your best advantage. You never know how that information may help you in your life’s journey. I would say always be respectful to others and always be a good listener and you will go very far.

Sheri Davis

Teacher & School Board Member

My name is Sheri Bryan Davis. I was born in New York City in the borough of Manhattan in 1947. My father drove the subway and my mother worked in payroll for the New York City Fire Department. I am the youngest of three children. I was a precision ice skater, a Girl Scout and my siblings and I took piano, ballet and tap lessons.

I went to a very integrated Catholic school through 8th grade. Then I went to a girl’s Catholic high school for 9th and 10th grade where I was one of three black students. In 11th grade I went to George Washington High School, a coed, public school for students who had traveled from countries around the world. I was the Vice President of my high school class.

During high school we moved uptown to a special place called Harlem, where mostly people who were African American lived. It was the time of the Harlem Renaissance. The jazz musician Noble Sissle was my uncle. He had a jazz quartet that included Eubie Blake. He played and wrote the campaign song for Harry Truman, I‘m Just Wild About Harry. Dinah Washington lived down the street. I remember Harry Bellefonte and Adam Clayton Powell.

I was the first person in the family to go onto college. I chose to go to Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, Florida, a predominantly black college. I studied to become a teacher. I experienced so much racism in Florida. There were white and colored only water fountains in downtown Tallahassee. My family felt that if you worked hard people would accept you for who you are. I found out it wasn’t always true and because of their racial bias sometimes people exclude you mainly because of your skin color.

During my freshman year I met Ron. After he graduated he came to Minnesota to be a teacher. A year later, in 1970, we got married and then I moved to Minnesota. I got my first teaching job at Horace Mann Elementary School. What I liked best about teaching was having students who came to school each day wanting and willing and prepared to learn. I also liked developing relationships with my students and their families. Some of my students honored me by giving me the June Gill Teacher Inspiration award.

Our daughter was born in 1980. During that time I had just taken a job in a Minneapolis Schools as an early childhood family education director. My husband Ron decided to run for the Hopkins school board. We worked hard campaigning and got him elected. He was the first black school board member. He was a school board member for ten years and for eight of those years he was the chairperson. He was a person who thought unselfishly about serving the entire community. In 2001 he passed away from cancer. After being on the school board for ten years they had a building named in his honor called the Ronald B. Davis Community Center.

After 30 years of being a Minneapolis teacher and administrator, I retired in 2000. In 2002 I became a Hopkins School Board member. After finishing my four-year term I retired. My mother is now living in Minnesota with me. She is 86 years old and she has Alzheimer’s disease. My daughter and I are still very close. I speak in schools and all around the Twin Cities. I enjoy my life. I wear my pedometer everyday and try to get 10,000 steps of walking each day. I’m concerned about my health and want to live a healthy and happy lifestyle.

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Honoring Sheri Davis

When You Work Hard

When you work hard you will be accepted
That’s one thing my father taught me
When you work hard you keep getting better and better, I believe
I grew up, in a special place called Harlem
There were people living in my neighborhood
Like Dinah Washington, Harry Belafonte,
Adam Clayton Powell sure was good
I grew up with my uncle, Noble Sissle
Who wrote, “I’m Just Wild About Harry”
With a saxophone, bass, drum and piano
When we gathered as a family
My father drove the subway,
the Underground Railroad
Passed away at fifty-eight years old.
Mother worked for the New York
City Fire Department
Working on their payroll
Youngest of three, everyone graduated
from high school, except for me
Who went on to get a college education
Way down south in Tallahassee
While riding on a train from New York City
To Florida A & M University
At each stop there were students
On that train to freedom like me
And one of them I met became my husband
He was only one year ahead of me
Came to Minnesota after graduation
One year later we married
Got married in the same church
I went to in Harlem
From way back in my early days
To a selfless public servant, father, teacher
Mr. Ronald B. Davis was his name
Together we both went on to get a master’s degree, but most assuredly
The greatest thing we did together
Was to give life to Kamarrie
From the learning center he got persuaded
To join in the business world
From a scholarship fund, community center
In his name, to help boys and girls
When he passed away, I, too, got elected
Like him, to the school board
Get as much as you can from your education
When you do it will open many doors

Words by LARRY LONG with Ms. McKenzie’s 3rd grade class of Eisenhower Elementary School
Hopkins, Minnesota

© Larry Long 2007 / BMI