The shocks keep coming for local English teacher Athena Davis.
She was nominated by former co-worker and Cleveland High parent Kelly Conn for the top teacher search on “LIVE with Kelly and Michael.”
A wave of support by her hometown secured the high school educator a spot in the national competition’s top five finalists.
She flew out to New York City on May 10, and managed to fit a week’s worth of sightseeing into two days before her spot on the nationally syndicated morning show.
Jennifer Lopez sans makeup and hair-do stood two feet from Davis without her knowledge, and she passed both talk show host Jimmy Kimmel and actor Mark Ruffalo in the hallway and backstage of the “LIVE” set.
Davis then walked out to join hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan on-stage, where she received two final surprises: 30 Intel-powered HP Pavilion x360 2-in-1 devices for Cleveland High; and a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to Israel.
The trip was a definite shock. Davis said she was not even sure what the hosts had said initially due to the noise from the crowd. When she caught on, it was a lot to absorb. According to Davis, going to Israel is a dream-come-true.
“I was trying to read what they were saying [on the teleprompter]. I don’t think my brain caught up to the moment until I heard Yad Vashem,” Davis later said. “When I heard ‘Yad Vashem,’ it all sort of fell together. And I thought, there is no way someone just handed me a trip to Israel. This is insane.”
Although Davis appeared on the TV show Monday, her time with the show is not quite over. Voting opened today and will continue through Monday at 3 p.m. Votes can be cast at LiveKellyandMichael.com. A device, whether a computer, laptop, cellphone or tablet, may only cast one vote per day. Multiple devices may be used to cast votes.
The top teacher search is meant to highlight teachers, and one in particular, who answer above and beyond the call of duty. These individuals carry their work with them throughout life, because they are passionate about what they do. Conn said Davis immediately popped into her mind when she saw the top teacher search announcement.
“She takes the time to get to know her students,” Conn said. “Once she gets to know them, she makes sure she encourages them and pushes them to their potential in some of the areas she knows are their strengths. She also pushes them in their weaknesses.”
When asked what she has learned from this entire experience, Davis quipped, “I learned you better be careful how you look for your school photo, because you never know how far it will go.”
On a more serious note, she extended an invitation for teachers interested in teaching Holocaust Literature to contact her at Cleveland High, chsraiders.com.
“I appreciate all of the support. I got a card today from my high school English teacher. I got a card last week from my first-grade teacher,” Davis said. “I appreciate so much all of the support, all of the encouragement, all of the messages. It has just been the neatest thing.
“We may be a small town, but we have a far-reaching impact.”
Davis’ appearance on the nationally syndicated talk show can be viewed online at the LIVE website.