English teacher Athena Davis has been named one of the five finalists in “Live’s Top Teacher Search.” She and her fellow contestants will each have a portion of an episode dedicated to them this week to tell their story. Davis, along with her husband, mother, father and sister, flew to New York City Saturday morning.
She said the whole experience has been surreal.
“I am trying to take it in little chunks, because I want to enjoy [my time in New York City]. I don’t want to be nervous while I am sightseeing,” she said. “However, I have had this unnatural calm throughout this whole thing.”
Davis was nominated by Kelly Conn, a former Cleveland High teacher. She is also the mother of recently graduate Lorne Conn, who had Davis for two classes and as an adviser throughout her high school career.
Kelly thought of Davis the minute she saw the announcement for Live’s top teacher search.
She pulled up a document and launched into an biographical essay on Davis.
“It was not hard to pull out what she loves [from social media], because she is very open. She wants people to know what she is doing, not because she is doing it but because it needs to be recognized,” Kelly said. “Her students need to be recognized, so she recognizes them.”
Davis’ Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts reflect her passions: late-night projects, snippets of conversations from family and friends and causes she attempts to alert the public about.
Kelly continued, “She has a desire to help students be the best version of themselves they can be.”
Everything Kelly knew about Davis encouraged her to nominate her as a contender for Live’s top teacher search.
“Student after student after student after student, they graduate and they say she is the teacher who has made a difference in their life,” Kelly said. “And I have definitely seen that with my daughter.”
Lorne first entered Davis’ classroom four years ago as a member of the English teacher’s Connections classroom. It remained a constant in her high school experience. She also signed up for two of Davis’ classes: Advanced Placement Literature and Holocaust Literature.
“[Holocaust Lit] reaches further ... and makes you wonder what can you do to make something like this never happen again,” the recent grad said. “I had never thought about the ‘bystander effect.’ I had heard about it, but I had never thought about how it pertained to the Holocaust and things that are bigger like that.”
Lorne spent most mornings before Connections began in conversation with Davis. She said the two of them talked about anything and everything. Her time with Davis only caused her opinion of the educator to grow.
“She is an excellent role model,” Lorne said. “Her priorities are set so straight. That, I think, is one way she has everything flow so well. I really admire that about her. She knows where her heart belongs at every given time and what she should be doing.”
Tune in Monday to learn more about Davis and how Cleveland can help her become Live’s top teacher.