ALBANY — As the father of five sons, former Albany State University basketball coach and DCSS administrator John I. Davis raised his own “starting lineup.” But he wanted more for his kids than just athletic ability; he wanted them to be educated.
Davis got his wish.
Two of his sons are now principals in the Dougherty County School System. Vinson is the principal at Monroe High School, John III is the principal at Robert Harvey Elementary, and Stephen is an academic coach at Dougherty High School.
Two other brothers — John I. and Iris Davis’ two oldest sons, Patrick, 42, and Stanley, 37 — don’t live in Albany and aren’t in the education field. Patrick works in Atlanta as a banker, and Stanley resides in St. Louis and is regional manager of a pharmaceutical company.
All five graduated from Westover High School
As a result of the three youngest sons working for the Dougherty School system, Vinson said discussions at Sunday family lunches after church can be lively. In fact, the competitive fire that each exudes causes the brothers to almost prove themselves at family get-togethers.
“Now when we get together around our parents’ house, the talk is education,” Vinson Davis said.
So how did Patrick and Stanley miss the educational bug?
“That’s a very interesting question,” Vinson Davis said of his older siblings. “I believe it’s because John (III) and I stayed here in town and we went to Albany State, so we were around young people — NYSP (National Youth Sports Program), Boys and Girls Club — so we always had an opportunity to work with young people. School was a natural next step for us. And Stephen saw our connection with young people and it was a natural thing for him to do.
“All of us had an opportunity to work with young people because our dad was the NYSP director when we were growing up.”
As an elementary school principal John III has been at Robert Harvey for three years. And, as life goes, he says some days are better than others.
“The hardest part of being a principal is getting the team going and getting beyond where we are today,” John III said. “That there are going to be better days, and I’m not talking about a utopia for the kids. Sometimes they need a mentor, somebody to hold their hand to help make that better day become a reality.”
Stephen Davis is a different animal from his brothers. Not many people could walk the halls of Monroe while wearing a Dougherty jacket and be able to get out of the building in one piece.
“I love my job, it’s the thing that gets me up every morning. I love working with the kids,” Stephen said. “You can’t do your job with any degree of effectiveness if you don’t love kids. The interaction and watching kids grow and mature, to me that’s everything. Everything comes and goes, but that relationship with the kids lasts a lifetime.”
So what was the best piece of advice the Davis brothers got from their father?
“I can answer that, because he’s given a lot, although sometimes we don’t ask,” Stephen Davis said. “He told us to always know who you are, where you are and what you are doing. (The other two brothers nod in agreement.) It’s always in my head.”
Vinson Davis shared another piece of fatherly advice.
“He (John I.) always told me, ‘When you are around people who are 20 years your senior, you don’t do all the talking,’” Vinson said. “I don’t care where they are from or what field they are in, they have something for you to learn. You listen.”
Besides academics, all five Davis brothers were talented athletes. Each earned college athletic scholarships. In fact, every year that Westover’s boys basketball won a state title, a Davis was on the team. John I. said his sons were on the varsity team for 15 straight years and helped the Patriots win six state titles under the late Coach Willie Boston. John III said athletics, in some ways, helped each of them in their careers to push themselves and set goals.
“Raising five boys was really not hard,” John I. Davis said. “When I was at ASU, I had the keys to everything. They all played basketball, tennis, swimming, track and anything they wanted to do anytime they wanted to go. They grew up in Hollywood.”
Both of the Davis brothers’ parents, John I. and Iris, are ordained ministers. The boys are also musicians who play multiple instruments.
Sometimes wishes — and prayers — do come true.
Ethan Fowler contributed to this report.