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Superintendent's Message

We Believe...Our Students Are College Bound!!



My Story began as a little [Black] girl raised in a single parent home by my mother and grandmother.   Growing up I always dreamed of one day becoming a teacher.  At the age of five my mother and father separated and later divorced.  I grew up angry about my parent’s divorce which impacted my behavior in school.  My parents were teenagers when I was born and too young at the time to understand how to raise their daughters so my grandmother who was a maid or should I say ‘the help’ worked for a rich [White] man in Libertyville, Illinois five days a week and came home to care for my sister and I on the weekends.  We called my grandmother ‘Big Mamma’ she was the mid-wife for all of Mr. Malady’s children and raised them all until they went off to college. 

I never knew that I was poor growing up because my basic needs such as food, clothes, and shelter were provided.  My grandmother always said, “No matter what people say you have control over the life you want to live.”  My grandmother who only had a sixth grade education taught me how important it was for me to get further in school than she did.  I took her conversations to heart.  I wanted to be the girl who exceeded the odds in my family especially since no one had a college education.  I wanted to make myself and my family proud and so my journey began.  I grew up on 39th and Giles in Chicago, Illinois across the street from the Calumet District (row houses).  

My parents did not have the finances to pay for me to go to college so I researched about how to obtain grants for college during the early part of my high school years and I obtained a grant to attend Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education.  My ‘Big Mamma’ and the many conversations we shared resonated in my spirit to dream big!  

Learning is constant and one is never too young or old to learn.  I am honored to share with you one of my greatest accomplishments!  It is important to struggle to appreciate the value of your worth in the world.  I am living my dream because I only wanted to become a teacher, but it was the support and encouragement of my grandmother, teachers, and a special principal who told me that I could have a positive impact on improving education for minority children if I went back to college and obtained a Master’s Degree in Education.  I paid my own way while working as a classroom teacher and graduated again with my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and Administration and Supervision.  This accomplishment helped me to obtain my license as an administrator and I became an Assistant Principal right here in Dolton School District 149 at Diekman Elementary School where I later became the Principal. 

I am proud to tell our children in the district that I graduated on May 3, 2013 with a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership and Organizational Change from the Prestigious Roosevelt University.  Earning my Doctorate Degree has been my greatest life accomplishment because I am the first in my family to earn this highest educational degree.  While working 12 to 14 hours a day, taking doctoral classes during the evenings after work, researching information on my topic of study, and writing four straight years on my dissertation day and night was the hardest challenge of my life, but I never stopped working hard for the children in School District 149 I worked harder.  I know the grace of the ‘Almighty’ carried me when things seemed insurmountable, but I never gave up!  What I want our children in School District 149 to know is that greatness comes with the price of hard work, dedication, commitment, and perseverance.  Nothing in life comes easy and your life circumstances do not define your destiny!

The seeds have been planted that our children are college bound!  We have raised the bar and set the standard for excellence for all of our children.  Our teachers have worked diligently to encourage college and career readiness for all children.  Although we know there is much more work to be done and the state has placed so many mandates on school districts in Illinois we stand committed to meet every challenge.  We Believe . . . that our children can and will attend college and graduate!!

Thank you all for giving us the opportunity to start over and show the communities that are children are worth every sacrifice that we have to make in order for them to believe in themselves and strive for the best to reach their goals.  I stand committed with the Board of Education and our entire district team to give our children the best education they deserve.  We could not have stayed the course without all of you believing in our educational team that we could do better.  As we end the school year we want our children to read, continue to research about colleges and careers on their own time and walk through the doors next August believing that education is critical to their life success! 

Have a safe and exciting summer vacation! 

We Believe. . .

Dr. Shelly Davis-Jones

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