Davis will build student voices through his new charter school in Watts.
TyAnthony Davis, 29, is starting his own charter school in Watts. After a recent LAUSD board meeting, Vox Collegiate was approved and will be open in the Fall of 2018.
Davis grew up in Fresno, CA. When he was in fourth grade, he got the opportunity to join a school for gifted children. That experience changed his life for the better by giving him a more rigorous curriculum and higher expectations at a young age. After high school, Davis attended Yale University where he played football and received a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies.
“You go into Yale worried about whether you’ll fit in. I’m not wealthy. I am Black. So in many ways I didn’t fit in, but I found Yale to be one of the most accepting places that I could imagine,” said Davis. “In my dorm room alone, there was myself, a roommate from Texas who was white, a Mexican gay Jehovah’s Witness from Chicago and one of my closest friends who grew up on Park Avenue in New York. So you have all different walks of life and everyone gets along.”
After graduating, Davis joined Teach for America and started teaching fourth graders in Las Vegas. He received his master’s degree in the process but had a yearning to go further. He went to Harvard to get his juris doctorate but still had a place in his heart for teaching. After two years of practicing law in Los Angeles, he decided that it was time for him to start his own school.
“There was a skill set that I developed in law school that I think is invaluable in me starting a school,” said Davis. “Running, starting, leading and building a school requires a whole different mindset outside of what goes into running a successful classroom. Understanding laws, regulations, budgets and corporate finance helped me to be successful with the setup for our school.”
Vox Collegiate will cover grade levels 6-12. The school will start with an enrollment of 105 sixth graders and continue to enroll new sixth graders each year. The school will focus not only on academic skills, but also skills that students will need to be successful in any career. Students will be given courses on communication and evaluation. There will be classes on speech, social advocacy, community engagement and more.
“Vox means voice, so we are focused on building students’ individual voices. Our way to do that is from sixth through ninth grade, every student will take speech and debate class every day,” said Davis. “We are dedicated to our students having the ability to make an argument, understand an argument, defend and poke holes in an argument and really advocate for themselves. In the higher grade levels, we will go into mock trial and community advocacy.”
Davis is also particular with the teaching style. Through football, he learned about creating trust and partnership with students. He wants his students to trust that when the teachers are having high expectations, it is because they believe in the students and are going to do everything to help them reach that goal and standard.
“You have to come with the mindset that if these students had a choice to sit in the classroom or leave, this has to be a classroom where they would choose to stay,” said Davis. “You as the lead teacher have to make everything engaging and it can’t be about you. It has to be about the students.”
Davis will use the following year to enroll students and finalize everything for the school that will open in Fall of 2018. For information on how you can get involved, visit www.voxcollegiate.org.