Education Professor Brenda Davis
-story by Kaitlyn Sewell '15
Randolph-Macon College Education Professor Brenda Davis specializes in taking a
psychological approach to the educational field, and, as she says, “keeping all
of her scarves in the air.”
“Working in the Education Department is truly
a juggling act,” she says, laughing and pointing to the colorful academic posters,
lesson plans, and cut-out stars scattered across her desk. Fostering a light-hearted
atmosphere is just another one of her specialties.
The Road to Teaching
Davis earned her B.A. in psychology and sociology and her M.S. in experimental psychology
at the University of Richmond, and her Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Virginia
Commonwealth University. What drew her most to teaching, she says, was the connection
she felt to children with special needs. “Working with dyslexic adolescents appealed
most to me,” she shares. “It amazes me how gifted and extraordinary they are.”
After working as a language remediation therapist in a private school and later
as a training consultant for Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Davis was referred to
R-MC by one of her undergraduate professors from University of Richmond. She joined
the faculty in 1990.
A major part of Davis’ role in raising future teachers is maintaining consistency
between her curricula, the state-level credentials, and the national accreditation
for teacher-education program.
“I have to make sure our students are ready for certifications and licenses,” she
Davis has taught numerous courses, including Foundations of Education, Survey of
Exceptional Children, Education Psychology, and Secondary Methods – a course she
especially enjoys. “Secondary Methods is the instructional methods course for secondary
student teachers, and it is taught in conjunction with their transition into full-time
student teaching,” Davis explains. “The coursework is intensive for both the student
teachers and for me because the class meets full days, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., every
Tuesday and Thursday, for five weeks. On the Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays of
those five weeks, student teachers are observing, assisting, and transitioning into
full responsibilities for their classrooms at the middle or high school. The relevance
of the course makes it particularly exciting for the student teachers and for me.”
Successful Students = Successful Teachers
“We have a strong tie to the Hanover County Public Schools, and many of our alumni
teach in them,” Davis shares. One of these alumni is Vince Kesner ’12.
“I met Dr. Davis at the majors and minors fair during my freshman year,” Kesner
recalls. “Since I was an out-of-state student who struggled with homesickness, I
felt like I had a second mother watching over me. Dr. Davis even sponsored me at
graduation.” A highly successful teacher in Cumberland County Schools in Cumberland,
Virginia, Kesner started the German Department in the district, and was named Region
8's Technology Teacher of the Year in 2013. This award recognizes a classroom teacher
who advances learning through the integration of technology into the curriculum.
Heather Brazier ’12
is a fifth grade teacher in South Anna Elementary school who was named
Hanover County’s Beginning Teacher of the Year in 2013. “Dr. Davis was my
advisor,” Brazier says. “She is outgoing, energetic, knowledgeable, and spunky.
She and the other education faculty members have created a phenomenal education
Ryan Stein ’04, who
in 2011 was named one of Henrico’s Top 20 Teachers and received the Virginia Lottery’s
Super Teacher Award, says, “Randolph-Macon College is lucky to have a professor
with her passion, dedication, desire, and determination. Dr. Davis’ energy and enthusiasm
are simply contagious.”
The Education Department
Throughout the years, Davis has watched the Education Department grow and flourish.
“In 2008, we were lucky enough to get our own building—the Mabry House,” Davis says.
“I am grateful to President Lindgren and the Provost’s Office for being so supportive
of our program.”
Davis also explains the teamwork between her and her colleagues in the Education
Department (Professors Jennifer Bruce, Michael Mudd ’98, Amber
Peacock, Leslie Roberson, and Diana Yesbeck): “We are all strong-willed, but we
collaborate very well together,” Davis says, smiling.
Advice to Yellow Jackets
Davis strongly encourages students to take an open-minded approach to the world
of learning. “Everyone has a different way of learning,” she explains. “You can
benefit greatly from that knowledge.”