May 28, 2021 - This year’s Comal ISD District Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year were announced Tuesday. Superintendent Andrew Kim along with Board of Trustee members Tim Hennessee and Courtney Biasatti surprised the honorees in their classrooms as the year was winding down.
With a combined teaching experience of 22 years, Shalonda Davis, who teaches forensic science and student leadership at Canyon High School, and Courtney Davis, who teaches fifth grade English and social studies at Clear Spring Elementary, have more than just their last name in common. They both have a passion for teaching, and they agree that the relationship with their students is more important than anything else they do.
“I really love working with the future generations and being their calm in the midst of figuring out their lives,” says Shalonda, who has been teaching science for 18 years, two with Comal ISD. “It renders me speechless sometimes. I think, man, I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I never get tired of it. I love waking up in the morning, and my kids know that they can reach me whenever they need to. I’m their person. What’s really interesting, is that they always tell me that, but really, they are my people.”
When she says, “my kids,” she means her students, which is exactly how Courtney describes her students as well.
“Teaching is exactly what I was supposed to do,” says Courtney, who follows a long line of educators in her family but had a successful career in sports broadcasting before joining the family business of education. “I don’t think I would appreciate teaching as much as I do if I had gone into it immediately. I have always yearned to have an impact like my parents did on the lives of their students. I want to make a difference.”
That is also why she chooses to focus on building relationships with each of her students.
“I think it is really important that each child feels they are heard,” says Courtney, who has been teaching for four years, three with Comal ISD. “That’s all any child wants. I have no problem playing basketball or football during recess, whatever it takes to make that connection. I have read books that I know a student likes so that we have something to talk about. All a child wants is to feel like they are a part of something, that they matter.
“So, while it may seem little to play four-square or to pull a student to the side to talk about the latest “Dog Man” book that just came out, it is that relationship piece that makes the biggest difference down the road, and in turn correlates directly with instruction.
“I love being a part of their journey. I will go watch their Little League games, and they are surprised when I show up.”
Ironically, those two words, “show up,” are the words Shalonda uses as well when describing what it takes to be a teacher.
“I want kids to know that I will be here early and stay late,” Shalonda says. “I will do what I can to help them. My advice to all teachers, is to show up. Go to their sporting events and choir concerts. Stand out in the hallways and say, ‘Hello.’ Check on them. Learn their names.
“If education is for you, show up. Be involved. It’s not a clock in and clock out profession. If it were, I would probably not be very good at it.”
Of course, Shalonda does more than just show up every day. She is the adviser for two very successful student-lead organizations at Canyon, the Black Student Union (BSU) and Student Council. Her room is rarely empty. On any given day students are meeting, planning and developing their leadership skills.
“Training kids to take ownership and grow and develop themselves as leaders is really what pushes me to keep going,” says Shalonda, who received the Adviser of the Year award for District 18 Texas Association of Student Councils this year which is her first year as the Council’s adviser. With her guidance, the group raised more than $26,000 during their Students Performing Unselfish Deeds (S.P.U.D.) campaign.
She is proud of BSU’s district-wide expansion, as well. A community-service based organization, BSU promotes growth and understanding of black culture, awareness of what’s going on the world and prepares students for post-secondary education. Currently Comal ISD has five BSU chapters at its campuses including Danville Middle, Canyon Middle, CHS, Davenport High and Smithson Valley High. Shalonda has been instrumental in this expansion.
“I want to prepare all students to be leaders,” she says. “I always tell them that I’m going to teach them a little forensics and a lot of life. I just hope they remember something when they walk out of these doors.
“I am honored and humbled to represent Comal ISD,” Shalonda continues. “I’m excited to show everyone what this district is all about. We put kids first, and to be able to represent that, just takes my breath away.”
-Courtney Davis, fifth-grade teacher at Clear Spring Elementary School, was named the Comal ISD Elementary District Teacher of the Year for 2020-21.
-Shalonda Davis, forensic science and student leadership teacher at Canyon High School, was named the Comal ISD Secondary District Teacher of the Year for 2020-21.
-Pictured from left is Comal ISD Superintendent Andrew Kim, Comal ISD Elementary District Teacher of the Year Courtney Davis and Board of Trustee Tim Hennessee.
-Pictured from left is Board of Trustee Courtney Biasatti, Comal ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year Shalonda Davis and Board of Trustee Tim Hennessee.
-Canyon High seniors congratulate teacher Shalonda Davis.
-Clear Spring Elementary students lined the hall to surprise teacher Courtney Davis.