Teacher and Substitute Teacher Appreciation Week is May 7-13, and LAUSD Daily is celebrating the classroom heroes who work every day to educate, lead, mentor and inspire the students of L.A. Unified. Each day this week, we will profile a teacher or substitute teacher selected by their Local District administrators as an example of the highly skilled and dedicated professionals who make up our teaching corps. Today, we feature Darnella Davidson, the band director at San Pedro Senior High School in Local District South.
Not long after veteran music teacher Darnella Davison arrived at San Pedro Senior High, the school’s Golden Pirate Regiment marching band began racking up the wins.
Back-to-back Field Championships from the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA).
Two consecutive first-place wins in L.A. Unified’s All-City Band Competition. And top honors among 92 marching bands in the Southern California Winter Guard Association tournament.
It’s no coincidence that San Pedro’s student musicians have upped their game under the direction of Davidson, who previously turned Los Angeles High into a musical powerhouse during the nearly three decades she spent as the school’s band director.
“Inspiration abounds in every classroom that Ms. Davidson touches,” said Local District South Superintendent Christopher Downing. “Her enthusiasm, her showmanship and her belief that the arts are alive in each of us leads to excellent instruction that enables her students to thrive.
“Her talents bring out the best of every student,” Downing said. “And for her award-winning Marching Band and Drill Team, it brings home championships!”
Davidson knows first-hand the pressures, the joys, the plain hard work required to play in a successful marching band. She was a drum major at her alma mater, University High School, and also at Cal State Northridge, where she earned her music degree and launched her teaching career.
In addition to garnering trophies for her students, Davidson has won accolades for herself, including the SCSBOA’s Outstanding Veteran Teacher and the coveted Gold awards. This year, Davidson was also a semi-finalist in the Grammy Music Educator Award from the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences.
“She inspires. She builds confidence. She uses praise to recognize effort and hard work,” San Pedro High Principal Jeanette Stevens said. “She structures her classes so that all students participate, grow in their skills, and showcase their level of performance.”
Davidson also has a strong network of music professionals who support her efforts to teach and advise her students. Guests to her classroom have included a college professor who worked with the band during rehearsal and a Grammy board member who talked about a career in music.
“She creates and guides and mentors student leaders at all levels,” Stevens said. “She not only gives students tremendous accountability, but she also teaches them what strong leaders do, how they model, how to act, so that their roles are held in esteem and valued. She builds our future and tomorrow’s leaders.”
Davidson’s passion for her work and her commitment to her students shows every time she raises her baton and gives them the down beat.
“Music is our heart and soul – it’s with us every single day,” she said. “My real dream is to make sure that kids are feeling successful.”