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Davis earns Minnesota’s 2021 NAESP Outstanding Assistant Principal honors

Keisha Davis, assistant principal at Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts, has been named Minnesota’s 2021 NAESP Outstanding Assistant Principal by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).

Keisha Davis

“Keisha Davis is a true leader of her school in the areas of restorative practice and cultural responsiveness,” said Jason Luksik, chair of MESPA’s NAESP Outstanding Assistant Principal selection committee. “It is evident in her practice that she helps students to find their voice and their purpose.”

Established in 2011, the National Outstanding Assistant Principal program honors assistant principals who are doing a superb job in their roles. According to MESPA, this program also promotes educational excellence for prekindergarten through eighth grade schooling and calls attention to the fundamental importance of the assistant principal.

“I am thankful to NAESP for this award,” Davis said. “Such an award recognizes the dedication and vision for my craft of education and the people in it. I am also thankful to the scholars, families and staff for their support and trust over the years.”

“Keisha is a tireless leader, daily looking for the best ways to support and influence staff,” added Jeff Zastrow, principal at Fernbrook Elementary (and former Birch Grove principal) who recommended Davis for this honor. “She seeks and delivers great professional development, holds a high standard for teacher performance with a racial/cultural equity lens at all times, and communicates clearly those expectations.”

Two of Davis’ most significant accomplishments as assistant principal at Birch Grove include her efforts to make culturally-responsive books more accessible, as well as lowering office referrals for students, especially students of color. She created an area in the school’s media center dedicated to books that reflect Birch Grove scholars and has also sustained the BG Family Book Club Night.

“Equity is more than a slogan to her,” said Dr. Ronald Salazar, principal at Birch Grove. “Her daily walk is empowering families, staff and students so our scholars can reach for the stars, create wonderful things, and have what it takes to overcome centuries of discrimination.”

For Davis, this award comes after years of work as an educator and striving for equity in education—something she said she will continue to fight for.

“I believe it is my life’s purpose to advocate for those who do not know how to navigate systems that have oppressed and hindered the success for certain groups of people,” she added. “Many of our systems in this country were not created with POC, American Indian and other groups in mind, including our educational system. I, too, am learning how to navigate and balance this system. I am one of many in this fight for equity in education.”