Davidson ends career on successful note

June 07, 2010|By JANET HEIM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- John Davidson has worked in education for almost four decades, 36 of those years in Washington County Public Schools.

Davidson, who once was principal at Hancock Middle/Senior High and Williamsport High schools, is retiring as director of student services, a position he's held for three years.

"They always say you know when it's time to retire. My time is here," said Davidson, 60.

Davidson grew up in Carroll County, Md., and graduated from Westminster High School and Towson University.

As the third of five children, Davidson said he learned his work ethic from his father and his compassion from his mother.

He knew money would be tight for college and was torn between studying to be a teacher or an architect. Davidson chose the teaching path, taking advantage of a program at Towson that then covered the tuition of students who committed to teaching for two years after college.


After serving with the Maryland Army National Guard for 6 1/2 years, he started teaching in Baltimore County and went on to earn a master's degree in education from Loyola College, took a summer course at Harvard University and got his doctorate in education from Virginia Tech.

Davidson said he's seen significant changes in education over the years and noted that demands on students are greater.

"It's amazing what kids are learning in kindergarten compared to 10 years ago," Davidson said. "What we've learned in education is that our children can reach our expectations. If we set our expectations high, they'll achieve it."

As director of student services, Davidson said it was the goal of his office to help all students succeed by developing a climate that enhanced their quality of life and quality of education. That often meant working with the neediest students, finding solutions to help them succeed in school, he said.

"I've had some incredible experiences working with students and great teachers to make things happen," Davidson said.

In his current position, he said he believes he's been able to have an impact that goes beyond the school system. For instance, he was the school system representative on the Community Action Council and American Red Cross boards of directors.

His first marriage brought him to Washington County and he stayed. Davidson has since remarried, and he and his wife, Cathy, have a blended family that includes four children and seven grandchildren.

The Davidsons live in Clear Spring and Cathy Davidson is a media specialist at Clear Spring High School.

Davidson volunteers at his church, St. Peter's Lutheran in Clear Spring, where he is the church council president. He plans to continue his work with Discovery Station and the Character Counts! program, among other things.

Retirement might be an overstatement. Davidson will still have a full plate, keeping busy with projects around the house, grandparenting and restoring an antique car he owns.

He hasn't ruled out going back to teaching at Hagerstown Community College, which he did for a school year in the early 1980s.

"You just never know what opportunities will arise. I think you always have mixed feelings when you close one chapter and begin another. I will miss the people. This is a people business," he said.

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