Kim Davis-Edwards: teaching life lessons
KIM DAVIS-EDWARDS believes in teamwork – whether at home or in the workplace. And the mum and wife has a system in place – delegation.
“With two children (boy and a girl) with two different personalities I have to make sure that we are all on the same page. Caleb, 17, knows what he has to do, and Kezia, 12, knows what she has to do,” Kim said while sitting in a classroom at Warrens Primary last week Monday.
It was May Day and she and her children, along with husband Che Edwards, met EASY magazine for an interview.
The children were restless. It was after all a public holiday on which a close-knit family should be at the beach or going on a road trip or just hanging out. But instead they were stuck with Kishmar, my photographer, and me.
With mum consoling them that the interview won’t be long, there was not a peep out of them thereafter and I almost forgot they were there except for when they snickered when mum had to answer questions about them.
Kim is the founder and principal of Warrens Primary and Preschools and has been working alongside husband Che to run the establishments for the past several years.
Kim is the youngest of four (three older brothers) and said that the subliminal messages that she would end up in the teaching sector was always present.
“My brother was a teacher and when I was younger I used to always be reading and holding summer classes for my cousins and neighbours.”
Kim figured she would have been a dermatologist but changed her mind when she realised it meant being a doctor.
“All the evidence was present in the house. I used to write up the walls. My great aunt was a teacher.”
Before Kim’s passion for holistic teaching flourished, she worked in the Ministry of Agriculture, but when she got pregnant with Caleb, her path switched.
“I was going back to work and looking for a nursery for Caleb. What I saw then I didn’t like. He was raised by a great aunt. So I said maybe I should open my own nursery.”
Kim met some family resistance, raising questions of leaving a sure cheque for unsure. But she had the backing of Che.
“I was sceptical and scared. But Che told me, ‘Kim you only get to live your dream once. If it doesn’t work out you have something you can fall back on. You can go back and get a job’.”
In 1999 Warrens ABC Preschool was established with 18 children. Eight years later the second location, Warrens 123 Preschool opened its doors. Warrens Primary was established in 2010.
Kim holds a bachelor of science degree in early childhood studies, various certifications from Erdiston Teachers’ Training College and certification in dyslexia and literacy (Britain) and Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory training (United States).
“We had the nursery buildings so we decided to start a primary school here. So the nursery is down bottom and the primary is upstairs and on the other side.”
Che has had a hand, literally, in building the school. A renowned sculptor, he put aside some work he was doing when Kim asked sweetly for help with a project.
“I needed to erect a building for a classroom and I couldn’t handle it as the work was overwhelming,”she said.
“I asked him to take charge of it and hire the workers and so forth. He got the building up. So I was like, we have two locations to manage, all the staff to pay and all these different things. He said he would manage all of that so I can concentrate on my duties.”
There are 20 staff members and Kim is grateful for their dedication.
“I have two supervisors, one at Warrens ABC (auntie Greta)and one at the nursery here (auntie Cheryl) and I have an excellent administrator (Ms Springer) who takes care of everything so I can teach.
“I love teaching,” explained Kim. “I cannot sit in my office as a principal. I teach mathematics to classes 2 and 3 (ages eight and up) as well as the emergent reading programme to students in the Infants Department (ages four) and serves as dance instructor for that particular extracurricular activity.
“I get to interact with them and see their strengths and weaknesses. I like to see when they are struggling with a concept and finally get it. That is so rewarding for me.
“Last year we had two children who sat and passed the 11-Plus. This year we didn’t have a class 4 so next year we will put forward some students to sit.”
Because Kim and her husband work together they have made a concerted effort to not bring work home with them.
“It is a bit challenging at times because having your own business you can’t shut off. But we know how important family time is.”
Kim says she has gotten flack from her children about how much time she takes away from them.
“They always say that I work too much and I give up too much of their summer vacation for Warrens so what I have done now in the last couple of years is make sure that Saturdays I am free. I also used to run a reading programme that I have stopped. I am hoping to start that back soon since they are both grown.”
Kim says she has recognised that she can’t please everyone.
“I tried that. I try to fix everything but now I am at a point in my life where I know I can’t so I set standards to encompass everyone’s needs.”
As an educator and dealing with over 108 children (from cradle to Common Entrance) she has had to deal with myriad issues and problems.
But when it comes to her children Kim has a no-tolerance policy.
“I have never had to go my children’s school for any issues. They know my stance. I instil values of being respectful, respecting themselves first. Have focus. I tell them they can express themselves but do it the way I would want them to, in other words not to be disrespectful.”
Kim says she is the disciplinarian in the family, and while she and Che butt heads at work, they never at home.
“Caleb is a cool cat. He puts in little effort and I know he can do better but he passes his subjects. Kezia is a book person, very organised with work. She has her schedule for studying and Caleb would tease her about it,” Kim said, laughing.
Kezia is into cheerleading and wants to be a doctor and Caleb who is at Barbados Community College wants to be a computer programmer and likes music (he raps).
The Warrens Primary motto says: “Intelligence Plus Character Is the Goal of True Education” and Kim holds firm to that with her students and her children.
“Life is a journey. Keep the lines of communication open and with hard work and perseverance you will achieve your ultimate goals.”