7 Questions with Don Davis
Name: Dr. Don Davis
Current title: Head of School
Current organisation: Second Baptist School in Houston, Texas
Dr. Don Davis has devoted the past 19 years to educational leadership as an administrator in the private school sector. He served as an athletic director, assistant head of school and now head of school at Second Baptist School in Houston TX!
Dr. Davis is passionate about raising up the next generation of students to think critically, live biblically and lead courageously. His doctoral research was focused on the relationship between school culture and student retention in private schools. He applied this research at Second Baptist School and the school has since reversed a four year decline in enrollment.
Off campus, you'll find Mr. Davis enjoying time with his family. He and his wife, Jessica, have been married for 17 years, and together they have three children: Trey (‘29), Jacob (‘32) and Natalie (‘34).
1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?
As a Christian school leader, I have led through hurricanes, times of mourning in our nation, and now a pandemic. By far, the greatest challenge I have faced is the current COVID-19 pandemic. Never before have Christian school leaders been required to make difficult decisions with limited and conflicting information that directly impacts our school families. In this time of adversity, it is imperative that we, as leaders, remain committed to God’s calling and our core values to guide us through these challenging times.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
As Christian school administrators, we understand that no two days look the same and nearly every day holds a new challenge. We are each created differently, but I would encourage each leader to schedule their priorities during the time of day they perform best. My daily schedule is structured to support my motto: “Win the morning, win the day!”
4:00-5:00 AM: Dedicated time for reading, learning, and journaling
5:00-6:00: Exercise to improve physical health
7:30-8:30: Connect with teachers, students, and parents on campus
8:30-12:00 PM: Focus on deeper work that involves intentional thought
1:00-5:00 PM: Take meetings and follow-up on projects
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
As a leader, I aim to be a learner at heart and this season of navigating the pandemic has not been short on lessons. I recently reread the book Good to Great by Jim Collins where he says, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” I am learning that no vision can be achieved and no mission accomplished alone - greatness requires a great team of people pulling together.
4. What one book has had the most profound impact on your Christian school leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
The organizational leadership principle expanded on in Patrick’s book has helped me build dynamic teams that achieve great results for the benefit of faculty, students, and families. I encourage every school leader to read The Advantage and find practical ways to apply the principles of team building to affect their leadership style within their school community. I believe in empowering faculty and administrators to lead in their roles even if they are not management. This book provides insight into how to encourage leadership on all levels to better the organization.
5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?
Network, network, network. We are looking for teachers that are humble, hungry, people smart, positive, and loyal. We are called to equip students to think critically, live biblically, and lead courageously to impact their world for Jesus Christ. Faculty enjoy and thrive in our supportive environment that offers stability and competitive benefits. Because of their experiences, they are networking to bring mission appropriate teachers that will also benefit from being at our school.
In addition to networking, leaders must have a well-formulated mission. They must know what they are looking for in a great faculty member and what the benefits of working in your organization are past what is listed on your website.
6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
As a school, we humbly serve our staff and students and make them feel known. We offer support at every level in order to develop a foundation of trust and loyalty within our community. This culture is represented in servant leadership where each employee is seeking to serve one another and serve our community. A culture of servant leadership takes the focus off the individual and ensures that we care for one another in order to glorify God.
7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a Christian school leader so far?
There are so many stories of God’s faithfulness and work in the hearts and minds of students, but one stands out in particular.
Two months after arriving at Second Baptist School in Houston, TX we were hit with Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane destroyed over 135,000 homes in Houston and closed our school for nearly two weeks. I have never experienced or witnessed a community of Christians comes together to help one another and their city as I saw at Second Baptist in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. God was faithful and our caring community is stronger because of our shared experience through this disaster. Our pastor Dr. Ed Young always says “our extremity is God’s opportunity”.