Dr. Keshia Smith-Davis, the principal of Great Plain Elementary School in Danbury, was selected last week after being nominated by Danbury Schools Superintendent of Schools Kevin Walston, who praised her as a “warm, engaging, articulate and inclusive school administrator who consistently leads by example.”
“I am grateful and truly honored to have been selected as Connecticut’s Elementary Principal of the Year by the Connecticut Association of Schools,” said Smith-Davis upon learning the news. “This could not have been possible without the support of the Great Plain Elementary School’s hardworking students, staff, parents, district leaders, Superintendent Walston, and most of all, my family. I am truly blessed!”
Smith-Davis began her career as a public school educator in New York and Virginia before joining Danbury Public Schools in 2004 as Principal of Great Plain Elementary School.
After assuming the leadership role, she set out to establish a school culture conducive to learning and personal development.
Her vision and leadership have culminated in a host of recognitions and awards for her school. In 2022, Great Plain Elementary School received the National Blue Ribbon Award for closing the achievement gap. Between 2018 and 2020, Great Plain was in the top 10 percent statewide for student growth and performance and was also named a Connecticut School of Distinction.
Dr. Smith-Davis stated: “Culture, climate, a change in mindset, and believing you, the principal, are responsible for moving the school is very important. If you do not believe you are the change agent for the school, nothing will change.”
She attributes much of her students’ success to the relationships she and her staff develop with parents, and the ability to partner with them in helping their children reach their full academic achievement.
Smith-Davis reviews student data and information with the staff, student, and parent community. She feels it’s important for students to know where they are as learners.
Parents receive regular progress monitoring updates as well as materials and online activities from their homeroom teachers to promote learning. Smith-Davis believes that incentives and community partnership is necessary to improve achievement.
“I could not have done this without the support of our loving and caring Parent Teacher Organization, Great Plain staff, and students. Oftentimes, they will purchase online activities and books for our students to read during the summer,” said Dr. Smith-Davis.
At the core of her leadership is a commitment to serving the needs of others. Dr. Smith-Davis believes that demonstrating deep compassion is critical for keeping students and families engaged and connected to the school.
This permeates the school culture through community events including No One Eats Alone, the Sandy Hook Promise-Start With Hello, and See Something, Say Something.
Karen Packtor, Deputy Executive Director of CAS, said: “The 2023 Elementary Principal of the Year is a fitting tribute to a woman who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and an unrivaled commitment to her students, school, and community.”
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