Hats off to the silent heroes

‘Silent heroes are aunts and uncles, cousins, foster parents, frustrated active and retired educators and represent diverse ethnic groups. Silent heroes never seek notoriety. They are most comfortable working in the shadows,’ said Dr. Goliath Davis, III.

BY GOLIATH J. DAVIS, III, PH.D., Contributor

PINELLAS COUNTY — I have worked on school issues for more than 43 years and have been privileged to work with powerful educational advocates. These include Lew Williams, Vyrle Davis, Adelle Jemison, Seymour Brown, Sr., Arlington Nunn, Solomon Stephens, James Feazell, Mary Brown, Garnelle Jenkins, attorneys Rick Escarraz, Roger Plata, Guy Burns and David Koperski, Chairman Omali Yeshitela, Chimeranga Waller and a host of other effective Black and white educators with solid commitments to kids.

Vyrle Davis

I served with Superintendent Scott Rose, who established the Southside Advisory Committee, and Superintendents Howard Hinsley, Clayton Wilcox, Julie Mastry, John Stewart and Mike Grego. Kevin Hendrick is the seventh superintendent I have worked with, and I continue to work with COQEB (Concerned Organizations for the Quality Education of Blacks).

I identify my more than 40 years as service because although then and now, I and the various organizations and individuals sometimes disagreed, our work together has always been characterized by mutual respect and, when necessary, compromise.

Fortunately, I was, then and now, able to cultivate relationships with individuals who love kids at all levels of the district organization and in the community. The silent heroes with whom I have collaborated loved their jobs and worked endlessly to ensure academic excellence. These individuals represent a wealth of institutional and community knowledge.

Adelle Jemison

Silent heroes come in all forms. They are managers; they are grandmothers confused by the educational bureaucracy and find themselves responsible for parenting their children’s kids in their later years. They are young and old parents and students fearful of retaliation. They are parents failed by the system and need assistance advocating for their children. They are teachers seeking help with troubled students.

Silent heroes are aunts and uncles, cousins, foster parents, frustrated active and retired educators and represent diverse ethnic groups. Silent heroes never seek notoriety. They are most comfortable working in the shadows.

Over the years and today, when all else fails, silent heroes never hesitate to seek alternative paths to advance the interests of kids and the organization. Some administrators believe employees should never seek to solve problems with individuals outside the organization; failing to realize failed leadership breeds the situations managers detest most.

James Feazell

James Feazell

I have always been trusted with critical information for problem resolution for several reasons. First, some leaders ignore or dismiss subordinate concerns, student concerns and recommendations offered to address critical issues and concerns articulated by direct reports, students, and parents.

Second, I protect the heroes, act responsibly on matters brought to me and always report back on the progress of their issues. The process ensures some degree of equity, justice and immense satisfaction.

I take this opportunity to commend and thank all of the silent heroes who, for the love of their students, jobs and commitment to scholars and education, never hesitate to put themselves in jeopardy to improve organizational effectiveness, equity, justice, and inclusion. They are truly courageous and willing to risk careers and livelihoods to correct deficiencies and problems some leaders ignore.

I was told once by an area superintendent that he never hears from anyone but me. He wondered why, and I informed him that I am sought out because community members know I will act and, more importantly, honor their anonymity when requested.

Lew Williams

Too often, those who do the least or nothing at all in the organization and the community benefit most from the sacrifices of the silent heroes that never seek recognition or affirmation. Their reinforcement comes from seeing wrong things corrected, inequities eliminated, inclusion as an organizational objective and fairness and accountability ensured.

Politics has unnecessarily complicated education. Silent heroes are essential in ensuring the system is held accountable and that scholars are given the best opportunity for success. Needless to say, some scholars and some parents need to act more responsibly. However, thanks to silent heroes who stand in the gaps, scholars needing assistance get much-needed help. My hat is off to all of them.

Goliath Davis is a former chief of police and deputy mayor for the City of St. Petersburg who actively advocates for education in Pinellas County.

2 Replies to “Hats off to the silent heroes”

  1. Marilyn Bell says:

    DR. GOLIATH J. DAVIS, III , What an incredible article about the prior leadership in the Pinellas County School District. Unfortunately, we don’t have leadership in the system that really know the struggle that these outstanding leaders knew. My experience has been that the leadership has the arrogant attitude of taking care of themselves. Leadership needs to make some changes that will provide “equal “ education. Change and dollars are needed to move forward.
    We need to go back to teaching and not teaching to the test. The system needs some changes that has the best interest of the scholars in mind.
    Thank you for the relationship that you have built and assisted the scholars.

  2. Solomon Stephens says:

    It is a well known fact that has become a cliche.”It takes a village to raise a child.”I have worked in several urban school districts as an education administrator and have had a reasonable amount of success.I contribute a large amount of my success resulted from having strong support from key community stakeholders and advocates.Further,I couldn’t agree mor with Dr.Davis’ article on “Silent Heroes “.During my almost 20 years with Pinellas County School District I was fortunate to serve with some of the most committed and dedicated individuals who fought for equity,diversity,inclusion and excellence in education for all students.I can honestly say Dr. Davis was always part of the leadership that helped to get positive results

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