As a young aspiring teacher, Alphansus Davis began his career in 1969 at Spalding Primary School before attending Church Teachers’ College, followed by an internship at Claremont All-Age School in St Ann. He then went to Oracabessa Secondary for three years before his long stint at Spalding High in Clarendon, where he served as principal for 17 years.
Acknowledging his outstanding work at the school, the Government yesterday renamed Spalding High to Alphansus Davis High School in his honour. But none of that would have happened if he had been allowed to resign two weeks after starting at the school.
“I found a set of children who were totally disinterested in school. They were truants; they had no sense of purpose. When I submitted the letter, then principal Raphael Forbes was so disappointed in me he never said a word, but asked the vice-principal, Amos Richards, to handle it for him,” Davis recalled.
“Richards looked at me and said, ‘young man, you never run away from a problem – and you are not going to run away from this one. Stay and help to fix it. You are not resigning and we are not accepting your resignation, you are going to help us,’” recalled Davis, who began as a math and science teacher at Spalding High in September 1976.
He withdrew his resignation.
Davis’s journey to being a top educator was not an easy one. He recalled being the bright spark in class whose hand always went up first.
But his confidence shattered after he give an embarrassing answer to a question and was ridiculed by both teachers and classmates.
“My self-image sank, I didn’t want to attend school, to the point where sometimes daddy used to spank me to attend. I was not entered for Common Entrance and was moved to a school farther away from home. I was successful at the technical school exam and enrolled at Holmwood, but still felt low,” said Davis, who dreamt of being either a doctor, minister of religion or teacher.
Not getting his choice of general studies, he opted for agriculture, but his father would not have any of it. He soldiered on and sat the popular Jamaica School Certificate.
He passed all five subjects and kept it a secret, knowing it would be his ticket to tertiary studies. He went on to sit his O’level exams, but again, he found the journey difficult.
“I was laughed at by the principal when I said I wanted to be a teacher, but I knew I had what it took. When faced with the challenging students, I remembered my experience and decided to use it to help these children facing similar situation,” Davis said.
mong his significant achievements as principal at the school that now bears his name: the school population moved from just over 800 to more than 1,600 and from a grade-three to a grade-four school, as well as school of choice to which parents wanted to send children. Under his watch, 24 classrooms and an administrative block were built, and the school was taken off the shift system in 2004, without government assistance.