By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Jason Shelton’s first School Board nominee has been a student, parent and teacher in the city’s school system.
The Tupelo mayor announced this morning he has selected Itawamba Community College biology instructor Sherry Sheffield Davis to fill the open seat on the five-member board. Davis now must be approved by a majority of the City Council at its Tuesday night meeting.
If so, she will replace Beth Stone, who resigned from the Board in October, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family. The seat’s term expires in March 2015.
“First of all, I want to say I’m certainly thankful for Beth Stone’s service,” Shelton said. “I thought she did a wonderful job on the School Board, and her vacancy leaves a gap that is not easily filled.
“With Sherry, I think she brings some of the same qualities that Ms. Stone had. That is the love for the school district, the history of involvement in the school district and the background in education.”
Davis, 47, is a Tupelo High School graduate who spent 17 years teaching science in the school district at Tupelo Middle School and Tupelo High. While at TMS in 2003, she was the Walmart and Phi Delta Kappa National Teacher of the Year. She also spent two years as an administrative assistant at TMS.
“I have a wonderful life and a rewarding career,” she said. “The foundation of my success is the Tupelo Public School District, which I attended K-12. When the district called on me to serve, it is something that I am honored to do. The chance to give back is a way for me to honor and respect all of the great teachers who helped to shape me.”
Davis is the wife of former Tupelo City Council representative Jonny Davis. Their oldest son, Jonathan, 22, is a Tupelo High graduate, and their youngest son, Benjamin, is a senior at THS. She also has a 2-year-old granddaughter who lives in Tupelo.
“Her background as an instructor at Itawamba Community College, as well as her experience as a former Tupelo High and Tupelo Middle teacher would make her a great addition to our board,” said Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden. “Also, it is exciting that she has a student in our district and is herself a graduate of Tupelo High School.”
Davis, who began teaching at ICC in 2011, said her job gives her perspective on the education needs of students after high school.
“I have moved through the system from junior high to high school to community college,” she said. “I’ve gotten to teach some students three times, and I’ve seen those students evolve. We don’t all grow at the same rates. It is neat to see how students change and mature and become a success.”
Shelton has had informal conversations with Council members about the nomination and will continue that on Monday and Tuesday, he said. Davis also will be available to meet with Council members on Monday and Tuesday, Shelton said.
Davis was one of “several people” Shelton said he interviewed to fill the vacancy.
“I had requested feedback from Council members, educators, other School Board members, prior mayors and other elected officials,” he said, noting he also received input from many residents. “I got a tremendous amount of feedback.
“This is a huge decision for any mayor. One of the things that made it even more difficult was that every suggestion I got was a great suggestion.”