Jay Davis ’90 talks about teaching students from many different backgrounds at the middle school through college level, coaching four sports, serving on his local school board, and swimming every month of the year in his family’s favorite swimming hole.
Job title: Director of the Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD) and Language in Motion (LIM) programs for the Tucker Foundation, director of the First Year Student Enrichment Program (FYSEP), and adviser to the King Scholars Program for the Offices of the Dean of the College.
What path brought you to your field? I spent most of my undergraduate years trying to step out from my father’s shadow (he was a beloved high school English teacher for 40 years), then finally acknowledged my senior winter that, one, I really liked my father; and two, I really liked teaching. The 24 years since then have had education as their foundational core.
I have taught all ages, from middle school through college, in settings ranging from a public middle school, to a college preparatory boarding school, to an urban high school, to a high school for students with learning disabilities, to Dartmouth’s education department. I have also had the pleasure of teaching adults—facilitating professional development workshops for teachers around the country—and coaching soccer, cross country skiing, baseball, and football. Throughout, I have realized that I am at my best if I have the opportunity to push my own learning while trying to help others learn.
What’s at the heart of your role at Dartmouth? My various roles all explore issues of social justice, particularly in the areas of educational equity and access. Through my work with FYSEP (students who are the first in their family to attend college) and the King Scholars Program (students from particularly under-resourced areas in developing countries), I have the opportunity to support remarkable students who are from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented at schools like Dartmouth—men and women who bring so much to our community now, and who will bring so much to the world after they graduate.
And in my work with Tucker’s SEAD and LIM programs, I help hundreds of Dartmouth students leverage their remarkable talents to support the aspirations of high school students from under-resourced backgrounds.
What is your favorite part of working here? The chocolate chip cookies under the warming lamps at 53 Commons; running under the towering trees of Pine Park at sunset; the fierce and vigilant commitment of many students, staff, and faculty to helping the College meet the needs of all of its students. The overflowing energy and optimism of the students with whom I have the pleasure of working, and of my favorite staff and faculty colleagues who devote their professional lives to creating opportunities for these students to thrive. The opportunity to split my time between the Tucker Foundation and Dean of the College area, both of which offer exceptional opportunities for students to explore what Tucker’s original dean Fred Berthold called the most important questions an undergraduate can ask: “Who am I? And who ought I be?”
What keeps you busy away from work? We live in Lyme, where I serve on the school board, coach youth sports in each season, and go swimming each month of the year in our swimming hole (sometimes requiring taking an ax to the ice). My outside-of-work passions are time with my family (wife Julie ’91 and kids Katie and Andrew), Nordic skiing, reading, running, biking, singing, eating, splitting wood, camping, making maple syrup, surfing the emotional roller coaster of being a Red Sox fan, and exploring the split-personality issues that come with equally enjoying Modern Family and Game of Thrones.