May 6, 2013
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Ad majorem Dei gloriam. All things for the greater glory of God.
The Latin motto for the Society of Jesus is what Troy Davies, strongly influenced by the Jesuits, strives to live his life by.
"I have taken that motto on as my own personal motto," said Davies, who has been appointed, effective Sept. 1, the new superintendent of St. Thomas Aquinas Roman (STAR) Catholic Regional Division.
He approaches his work with a deliberate intention because he's not just going about his responsibilities for himself and those he serves, but also for God.
"Whether teaching in a classroom, driving a bus, administrating a school, or being a mechanic and working in a garage, all the work that we do should be offered for God's glory. It can be sanctified and that work can be made holy. It allows for the ordinary, mundane tasks of daily life to take on a new transcendent meaning," said Davies.
Originally from Regina, Davies has worked for several jurisdictions during his career in Catholic education. He served for almost a decade as both a principal and vice-principal for all grades, from kindergarten to Grade 12. He also taught fourth-year education students at the University of Alberta for many years.
The Jesuits left an indelible imprint on his teaching career. Another Jesuit value is that of Magis, which means "the more."
"It is the idea that we can always make a more generous offer of excellence. We can always do more for God," said Davies.
A devout Catholic, Davies started his teaching career at a Jesuit-run school for inner-city boys in Baltimore. In the mid-1990s, he taught Grade 6 to 8 boys at St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, a private school for about 70 students.
"It was a school for kids from some of Baltimore's most blighted, most economically deprived neighbourhoods, but also for kids showing some academic potential," Davies told the WCR.
The hope was that these boys would overcome their childhood hardships, move on to Baltimore's premiere high schools and eventually be college or university-bound.
"It was a remarkable way to be initiated into the teaching profession," he said.
DINING AND BONDING
The teachers ate breakfast with the boys and encouraged them to do some public speaking at the breakfast table.
The days went from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., keeping them later than a typical school day to shield them from the gang recruitment that ensnared so many young people. Instead, the school's sports program and other extracurricular activities sheltered the students from the gangs.
Davies described being an educator as a mission of faith because for a teacher who plants seeds and then moves away, he does not always know what becomes of those seeds.
"Every once in a while you're blessed to find out what happened to some of your kids," he said.
He received a message recently from Albert, a former student in Baltimore. Many students wanted to attend the school, but few were chosen. They were selected based on the teachers' assessment of their moral character, academic drive and overall potential. Despite other teachers' reservations about accepting Albert, Davies strongly advocated for him.
"Albert came from a very disadvantaged background. Albert emailed me to say that he learned after all these years that it was me who was pushing for him, and he just wanted to thank me. He also let me know that his life turned out okay, and he is now working for the Federal Bureau of Investigations," said Davies.
As with others, Albert's story was an affirmation that the school in Baltimore put some students on a positive trajectory in life. On the flip side, he learned of other students who were shot dead, losing their lives amid the violence of inner-city Baltimore.
Upon leaving Baltimore, Davies went to the University of British Columbia and was discerning a vocation to the priesthood.
He volunteered with L'Arche Canada, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and numerous other religious organizations.
Later, he married his wife Kathryn, an elementary school teacher, and they now have four boys aged three to 15.
He worked as a teacher, then principal, for Christ the Redeemer School Division in Okotoks. With Edmonton Catholic Schools, he was vice-principal at Louis St. Laurent High School, then principal at St. Bernadette Elementary School and later Annunciation Elementary School.
Now working on his Ph.D. in educational administration at the University of Alberta, his doctoral research focuses on the role of Catholic high school principals in small communities.
He called STAR Catholic a fantastic school division with an excellent Catholic culture, and a heavy emphasis on academic excellence.
"My focus will be creating a strong learning environment for kids in a Christ-centred context," said Davies.
Outside of work, he enjoys reading, golfing and travelling. An avid NFL fan, his favourite team is the Baltimore Ravens.
STAR Catholic Board Chair Sandra Bannard called this an exciting time for her school division. She was pleased to announce his appointment, replacing Jamie MacNamara, who is retiring.
"He brings a significant amount of experience and expertise to our division, and has served our organization extremely well as assistant superintendent for the past three and a half years," said Bannard.
As assistant superintendent, his focus has been human resources and learning services.
STAR serves more than 3,200 students in 10 schools in the communities of Beaumont, Drayton Valley, Lacombe, Leduc, Ponoka and Wetaskiwin.