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Davis’ appointment as interim principal makes MCHS history

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

 Davis' appointment to the top post for the remainder of the school year made her the first African-American woman to be principal of MCHS.

Davis’ appointment to the top post for the remainder of the school year made her the first African-American woman to be principal of MCHS.

These days Marsha Davis is working out of the principal’s office at  Millington Central High School as the interim with Mark Neal moving on to Melrose High School.
It was less than 10 years ago, Davis was a fresh-face teacher moving from Mississippi getting her career started in room A27 of the MCHS Freshman Academy. Now she is the first African-American woman to hold the position of principal at MCHS.
“Until last week when a couple of people brought that to my attention, it wasn’t something I thought about,” she acknowledged. “Just thinking about the title itself came to the front of my mind. The duties and the things that come along with it. Letting that sink in and the historical references it will have for years to come even in the new Millington Municipal Schools to lead by example of people moving up the ladder.”
Davis’ climb to a leadership role at MCHS started with her parents Odesser and the late Charles Davis. They raised their daughter in North Mississippi in a town called Sturgis. After graduating from Sturgis High School in 1999, Davis headed to Jackson State University.
“I’ve always had big dreams of doing things and following in my parent’s footsteps as educators,” Davis recalled. “After leaving high school, I attended Jackson State University and majored in English. I decided to become an English teacher.”
Moving to Memphis after graduation, Davis’ job search led to a meeting with then MCHS Nancy Norwood.
“If you’re talking about a saleswoman, she sold Millington,” Davis said. “She sold to me this is the place I needed to be. She walked me around this campus and showed me where my room would be. She offered me the best job I thought anyone could ever have. So I started teaching at Millington in the fall of 2005.”
Quickly Davis became a part of the Trojan fabric serving in position from English tutor to bowling coach. Then came an opportunity for Davis to further her career in administration. She took an assistant principal job at Bartlett High School working there for two years.
“Then I got the opportunity to return back home as I call it to become the vice principal of Millington Central High School,” she said. “I’ve been doing that for the past almost two years until Mr. Neal made the decision to take the job over at Melrose High School. I was promoted to interim principal. It’s definitely been an interesting path but a great path of being able to start at Millington and rise up the ranks at Millington.”
Davis said countless colleagues who have become her friends over the years were happy to hear the news she would lead MCHS through the rest of the 2014 school year. It was those same faces who helped Davis along her path to history like Neal, Dr. Xavier Wynn and Katie McCain to name a few.
“I started working with a lot of these people in the Academy,” Davis recalled. “At one point, Dr. Wynn was my principal in the Academy. To be able to work with him now on that level and working with Ms. McCain who we used to work down the hall from each other.
“Mr. Neal, door to door, having those relationships through the classroom and building those relations in the trenches for our students,” she continued, “and just transferring that dedication to the other side of the table, I’m definitely proud to represent them. What we do in the classroom is important but what we do on the administrative side on what it takes to run a school is important as well.”
Davis and several of her peers have moved up the ranks in their profession over the past 8 years. During that time many of their students have grown into professionals, government leaders, earned college degrees and are starting families.
“It’s what we pushed for, to get them to grow,” she said. “I taught ninth-grade every year and to see them go from not-so mature to see them become the mature people you knew they could be brings nothing but pride.”
Davis acknowledged she has matured in her nearly decade in Flag City. With her being appointed as interim principal the reminder of the year, she secured her legacy at MCHS and in the city’s history.
“Intrinsically there are moments where you can just sit back and have those thoughts and ideas,” she said. “I come for a big family, I have four sisters and three brothers. My parents always taught us to do our best. You don’t know what your best is, it just happens. You’re put in situations or trail by fire, you try to come out on top. At this point, that’s my goal.
“I’m in this position and I intend to do my very best,” Davis concluded. “Yes there are some moments when you smile and look at the parking space. I haven’t parked in it yet. And you get that intrinsic motivation. That intrinsic motivation also comes from knowing where you came from and all the other people who helped you get here. So there is a smile across my face when I think about my parents and the things they had to do to get me here. They’re somewhere smiling because I made something of myself. And that’s the things we’re trying to instill into our students that you become a living example that it can happen.”

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March 2014
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