LIFE AS A TEACHING ARTIST
(Excerpt from Davon's Bio. You can read the Full Bio here.)
Inspired by his time with EducationWorks, Davon focused his drive and talent on theatre education right out of college. Quickly becoming one of Philadelphia’s premiere teaching artists, his complex upbringing and experience with theatrical deconstruction gave him an edge working in over 42 schools in Pennsylvania. He was passionate about using theatre and performance techniques to promote literacy and self-empowerment. He taught acting, playwriting, improvisation and poetry, just to name a few. Some of his landmark collaborations include Theatre Exile, KIPP Charter School, Northeast High School, Build-A-Bridge, Norris Square, Walnut Street Theatre, the Young Men’s Leadership School at Fitzsimons, Bucknell University, and Purdue University.
Versatile in his approach, he has taught Kindergarten students to adults. He served as the Director of Theatre and Theatre Chair for the School District of Philadelphia’s Regional Talent Centers. With the help of the Philadelphia Young Playwrights, he created a show that toured schools participating in the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership’s (PAEP) Bridges Program. After his visit, many teachers reported a major shift in their students’ productivity.
Davon was the graduation keynote speaker at a Philadelphia school after working with the students during a series of crises. Here is an excerpt from his speech: “In front of a class of fearful children, I stood. It was time for dismissal, but the children would not go home. Earlier that day, the class of twenty-five witnessed a suicide and watched helplessly as one of their own had fallen victim to a heart attack in that same day. Every teacher and counselor present tried their best to distract the children, but to no avail. They didn’t want to be distracted from what they had witnessed; they wanted answers. It was clear that our job wasn’t to get them to forget about death, but to help them deal. And so we dealt; knowing that the call to teach often goes beyond the curriculum.”
Another career defining moment took place in 2010 when a race altercation between students took place at South Philadelphia High School; an incident that made national news. The situation had gotten so bad, that the Philadelphia School District granted the school $1 million to turn things around or face a school closing. Part of that money went into an arts program to help build community amongst the students. The first year of this program was considered a failure. The powers that be had trouble connecting with the students and getting to the root of the problem. Looking outward, Davon was recruited to help breathe new life into the initiative. After accepting his proposal on how to go about restructuring the program, he came on board to help with the overhaul. The program was a overwhelming success and even garnered attention from then Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter. They were also awarded an Barrymore award in education.