Beloved St. Pete High social studies teacher 'graduates' with honors

ST. PETERSBURG

It was one of his last days.

His 25th year at St. Petersburg High School. His 40th as a teacher.

But Samuel Davis, 61, was still all smiles.

"No regrets one bit," said the soon-to-be retiree.

His classroom was bare late last week, after letting his students take mementos off the walls. The kids snatched pictures, posters and articles, then got Davis to sign them.

Now just a cardboard cutout of President Barack Obama remained — with Davis' face glued on top, of course.

This year he was named the Pinellas County social studies teacher of the year, as well as the most inspiring teacher at his high school. A retirement dinner was held in his honor last week.

"I wanted to go out on a bang," Davis said, "but the Lord let me go out on a boom."

Inspired by one of his teachers at Gibbs High School, Davis knew he was going to teach history.

His career started at Southside Junior High School in 1969 after he graduated from the University of South Florida. Fifteen years later he was at St. Petersburg High School. He worked on creating the school's International Baccalaureate program, which offers students advanced learning and college credit.

He considers the IB program one of his greatest career accomplishments. Many students who passed through his classroom are becoming doctors and lawyers, he said.

Then there are those like Anthony Bryant, one of Davis' former IB students. Bryant came back to St. Pete High after college to teach IB courses.

Bryant came to Davis' classroom Friday to wish him luck.

"You need to start hitting the snooze button now," Bryant said.

"I just have to turn the alarm clock off," Davis said with a chuckle. "I've got to know there's only one 5 o'clock, and that's 5 p.m."

Davis will now turn his attention to his other group of students — his church. He is a minister for the Church of God in Christ and president of the Young People's Willing Workers Union, a church group.

After having had "two flocks" for so long, Davis said, it was getting hard to focus on both. Now with just his church, he's going to continue what he does best: teach.

Instead of covering the Constitution and the Civil War, he'll inspire people to move toward God.

As for his high school students, Davis said he'll show up to support them at extracurricular activities for the next few years.

"But these kids, they'll do fine without me," he said. "They're superstars."

Andy Boyle can be reached at aboyle@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8087.

Beloved St. Pete High social studies teacher 'graduates' with honors 06/02/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 2, 2009 2:39pm]

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