Coaching motivated Dr. Eric Davis to become an educator, and he makes no bones about it.
"I had no aspirations of doing administration work," he said. "Then, a group of us who coached together decided, 'Maybe one day we might want to do this administration thing, so let's go ahead and do the master's degree program at ULM just in case.' We got in there together and did it as a group."
Dr. Davis graduated with a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from the on-campus program in 2003. He became an assistant principal in 2005 and principal at Wossman High School, in Monroe, in 2016. Dr. Davis was recently named the 2019 Principal of the Year by the Louisiana Department of Education.
"It's awesome," he said. "I am very excited about the award. It gives me a platform to put Monroe on the map. At the time I was at ULM, I learned from Dr. Otis LoVette and Dr. George Rice. They're retired now, but those guys really got us ready to be in the positions we are in now."
Two of Dr. Davis' colleagues in the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership program, Vincent Landrum, assistant principal at North Crowley High School in Fort Worth, Texas, and LaShondra Allen, principal at Burg Jones Elementary in Monroe, also became administrators. His brother-in-law, Orlando Freemont, also earned an M.Ed. from ULM shortly after Dr. Davis graduated. Freemont is now a principal at Richwood Middle School in Monroe.
"I never considered another school," Dr. Davis said. "At the time, ULM was ranked very high in the country for the master's program. It still is. All of that was a plus. It was convenient with me coaching. I left practice around 5 p.m. and went to school in the evenings. That was convenient."
The program also laid the foundation for Dr. Davis' career as an administrator.
"At ULM they taught us how to be accountable for the lives we have in front of us and how serious the job is," he said. "You have to put in time and effort to make it what it needs to be. A lot of the professors had already been in the position of superintendents, so they gave us little nuggets that weren't necessarily in the books to help us prepare and to be ready when that time came."
Dr. Davis coached football, basketball and baseball at his alma mater, Carroll High School, in Monroe, before moving into administration. He played multiple sports for the Bulldogs and remains an avid sports fan.
"Once I got to year three or four, I knew I wouldn't be teaching my whole career," he said. "I started setting my sights on administration and got into administration a little earlier than I expected. I thought I would coach for a good little while, but the opportunity presented itself. I jumped on it and got in as an assistant principal."
Dr. Davis also earned a Master of Business Administration (2017) and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (2014) from Walden University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from Miles College (1996) to become the first person in his immediate family to earn a college degree.
"I was talking with Harrington Watson III, the principal at Robinson Elementary," Dr. Davis said. "He said he was going to do his doctorate. He started six months before I did and completed his doctorate degree at ULM. That inspired me @to go back for a doctorate. We were both assistant principals at Richwood High School at the time. With him graduating from ULM and doing what he did, it put a fire in me to do something else, too."
Dr. Davis' favorite course in the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership curriculum was EDLE 5015: Legal, Ethical, and Regulatory Issues.
"That course was the basis of what we really needed to know," he said. "We were also made aware that the experience that you get will be hands on. They said, 'We can teach you what you might see, but you're really going to learn when you get your hands dirty.' They were absolutely right."
With the prestigious 2019 Louisiana Principal of the Year award added to Dr. Davis' long list of accomplishments as an educator, he is extremely proud of the training he received in the M.Ed. in Educational Leadership program at ULM.
"The master's degree makes you more attractive, more so now than then," he said. "I didn't aspire to do anything after the master's degree. I never dreamed that would happen. I was good with getting the master's degree and certification for administration.
"Now, the degree definitely will open some eyes to what I do. At the Louisiana Association of Principals Conference last month, I saw the ULM booth. I said, 'This is the perfect opportunity to put ULM on the map. I want people to know this is where I got my training.'"
The award also had his family -- wife, Jan, and children, LaTovia (12), Eric Jayden (9) and Brooklyn (8) -- beaming with pride.
"Becoming a superintendent might be the next goal," he said. "I'm comfortable where I am now. You would probably aspire at some time to take that next step. Hopefully, I'll be ready when the time comes based on the experiences that I have had."
Wherever Dr. Davis goes with the remainder of his career, he will always be a proud ULM alumnus.
"If administration is your career goal, take it seriously and understand you're going to a good school that's going to have you prepared and ready for where you need to be," he said. "Graduating from ULM was very cool and gave me a sense of accomplishment."
Learn more about the ULM online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership program.
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