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Q&A with Regine McDavid (Memphis '21)

Learning to explore new content areas has shown Regine’s adaptability and growth within a short time and she is now challenging herself more to be an effective learner and educator. 

A teacher poses for a photo with some of her students in a school hallway

January 30, 2023

Regine McDavid teaches at the Memphis School of Excellence Elementary Charter School in Cordova where she’s had the pleasure of teaching 4th and 5th grade science and social studies in her first year of teaching. She currently teaches 4th grade math and science along with a second endorsement in English for Speakers of Other Languages. Learning to explore new content areas has shown Regine’s adaptability and growth within such a short time span and she is now challenging herself more to be an effective learner and educator.

Regine’s students are what inspire her the most and she aims to motivate them to believe in the impossible and change the world.

“My students are my success and my legacy. I am proud to give back to the kids in my community. I was born in Southern California and moved to Memphis right before the start of middle school,” she said.

“Memphis has become my home and I am so thankful to have such an enriched history and culture added to my background. Living here has taught me more than I ever learned in school including the early education in California. Being able to recognize the social aspects across this country and the change that is still in effect.”

“My students are my success and my legacy. I am proud to give back to the kids in my community.”

Regine McDavid

Memphis Corps Member 2021

What have you learned about yourself in your time being a teacher?

I always wanted to teach, but what I've learned has gone beyond what I could have ever imagined. I learned in my life that the education I received as a child was lacking and made many including myself, who identify as a minority from a low-income background, feel systematically displaced.

In many ways, I've learned to see the same displacement in my students who have similar backgrounds that are not represented or granted equitable opportunities in life. Growing up in the south carries a lot of history of injustice, but also a continuous fight for civil rights. Teaching in Memphis has taught me the fight is still alive and prevalent in the face of every teacher leader, business owner, and parent alike.

We all want to see a change for the future and we grind daily not just for the present but for future generations as well. Teaching is knowing that each move I make creates a ripple effect for positive change decades from now, it is for the next generation more than it is for our own. To follow the legacy of the late Martin Luther King Jr.: "You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” To serve is the greatest honor in life.

How do you involve families in your students' education?

I always look for ways to invite parents to participate in events, trips or even come as spectators or visitors to see my students present their work/learning. It is a pleasant surprise to my students to see their family come to support, it unlocks a new level of student engagement and overall confidence. I provide learning aids for home and offer clubs and tutoring. I also use therapeutic conferences to help students open up to their parents about their growing emotions and insecurities.

I use bilingual resources to reach all families and counteract cultural biases. I send home weekly newsletters, place weekly calls/texts for positive check-ins, bulletin posts (ClassDojo & Talking Points), and digital incentives trackers for behavioral management (LiveSchool). Every tool and point of contact with their families encourages a strong relationship. Without the help of the families a child can feel isolated and so can the teacher. This bond or connection brings aid to the teacher, because without the family’s support, I would not be able to carry such a responsibility for each student's needs on my own.

If someone were to come into your classroom, what would they see?

They would see all of my students' work displayed across the wall, lots of bright colors creating various positive affirmations, and culturally relevant pedagogy so that my students feel motivated, represented, and celebrated. Many visitors come into my classroom and see me happily engaging and modeling my everyday expectations: respect, authenticity, leadership, honesty, trust, safety, and of course my humorous personality so that my students feel safe to be their true selves.

My first day in the classroom I decided to paint a mural to represent the subjects I would teach. Throughout the school year I allow students to add to this mural. This mural has become a safe zone or what we call our "Calm Cave". In this beautiful corner featuring many murals, I have collected books from all over. Whenever one of my students feels uncomfortable or sad, we go to the Calm Cave and instantly we are able to talk it out.

What is the biggest advice you would share with people who are interested in becoming teachers?

Be the teacher leader you needed when growing up. My advice for future teachers is to analyze and understand the role that you're being given. This job comes with a great responsibility, but it also is important to take care of yourself first so that you may be able to support others. A wise person once said "you cannot pour from an empty cup", in teaching this is extremely true. This job is not for the faint of heart and will challenge you in more ways than many. You learn to become a strong leader, individual and highly gifted at being able to multitask and adapt.

What can we find you doing in your free time?

In my free time, I host a book club, I coach the FLL robotics team, and I have built a school garden. There is so much diversity and creativity in Memphis to explore and share with others. I love taking a day to relax with friends and explore the 901. I continue to learn something new every day and find ways to incorporate that into my classroom and my character. This is what makes me a Memphian and a teacher leader.