Armed with a walkie-talkie and a smile, Assistant Principal Everett Davis maneuvers the roaring flood of seventh-graders pouring from the cafeteria at Montgomery Village Middle School.
“Mr. D!” a student calls out, as kids bump into each other and run into lockers. “How are you doing?” Davis asks.
He spots another with his jeans hanging off his hips. “Hey,” Davis says, gesturing to the student to pull up his pants.
Then, Davis ducks into the boys’ bathroom to steer stragglers back to their classes. After five minutes of mayhem, the hallways and the cafeteria are quiet again.
“This is my classroom,” Davis says, referring to the school’s hallways.
Davis, a Potomac resident, learned in October that he was selected as the State Assistant Principal of the Year for 2013. The award was announced at a reception Oct. 11 by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals, which chooses the award recipient.
“The rest is kind of history now,” he said. “It’s an honor.”
Though he has spent less than a year at Montgomery Village Middle School, Davis has worked in Montgomery County Public Schools for 13 years. He started as a Spanish teacher at Northwest High School in Germantown, then worked at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Germantown and Francis Scott Key Middle School in Silver Spring.
He called working in the county “a homecoming of sorts,” as he attended Montgomery County schools throughout his youth. Paula Rosenthal, once his Spanish teacher at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, was one of his first mentors, he said.
“She wanted me to continue Spanish and pushed me as an educator,” he said. After he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, he said he wanted to give back to the grade schools that provided so much for him.
“My philosophy of education and the needs here in the community are a definite match,” he said.
A short biography hangs on the door of his poster-filled office. “I am a Spanish speaker,” it says. “I love to grill (and eat). I love to travel.”
On a shelf above the phone on his desk, Davis keeps a laminated magazine page with a quote from Malcolm X: “Education is a passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
“That’s really what I operate from as an administrator,” Davis said.
He is the latest of several honorees from Montgomery County, which often sees its teachers and principals make best-in-Maryland lists. Three Montgomery County assistant principals in the past 10 years have received the honor.
Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Dana Tofig said the award is a reflection of the investment the county puts in its school leaders.
“Leadership development is a big part of what we think makes Montgomery County Public Schools a great district,” Tofig said.
When choosing an awardee, the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals uses several specific criteria, according to application documents. Nominees are required to be strong leaders who communicate effectively and appreciate the needs of diverse groups in their school’s community
During his tenure as an assistant principal at Gaithersburg Middle School, Davis helped form a mentoring group for male students. Guided by moral ideals like responsibility, respect, fairness and caring, Davis took the students on trips to Montgomery College, L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg and the White House.
He and other staff members wanted to show students that “part of being a gentleman of character is that you are a contributing member of society,” he said.
Carol Goddard, principal at Gaithersburg Middle School, said Davis was influential in his five years there. His mentoring program brought together about 30 students, plus guidance counselors, a building service manager and a social studies teacher every week.
The mentees “grow an awful lot,” Goddard said.
Goddard nominated Davis for the State Assistant Principal of the Year award after he left his position as an assistant principal at Gaithersburg Middle School earlier this year.
“I knew that he had every capability of being chosen,” Goddard said. “He’ll take what he knows and help build some programs over there.” Davis is starting another chapter of the mentoring program at Montgomery Village Middle School this fall.
One of the school’s teachers, Joseph Luparello, said Davis still is fairly new to the school, but he’s making a good impression.
“He makes you feel like he’s always very happy to see you,” Luparello said.
Davis said he is happy to be a part of the administrative team at Montgomery Village Middle School, and that his 13 years in the county don’t quite feel like 13 years.
“When you love what you do, it goes by quickly,” he said.
Davis will be among the finalists for the National Assistant Principal of the Year award, to be announced in January 2013.