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Community Education

Reporter's notebook: Beloved teacher has found a brand new pair of wings

January 16th, 2014 10:32 pm by Carmen Musick

Reporter's notebook: Beloved teacher has found a brand new pair of wings

CRYSTAL DAVENPORT. Contributed photo.

Students, parents and teachers throughout Hawkins County are mourning the death of Church Hill Intermediate School teacher Crystal Davenport. She died Monday at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville following a brain aneurysm.

A vibrant and beautiful single mother of two, Davenport was just 40 years old. She leaves behind her mother, two daughters — Hannah and Cassie Davenport — and a multitude of family members, friends and students who will miss her dearly.

This isn’t a story that anyone ever wants to have to write. For me, personally, that’s especially true in this case because I am one of the Hawkins County parents who was fortunate enough to see Ms. Davenport in action and, more importantly, someone who was blessed enough to call her my friend.

Crystal Davenport was the very first teacher my son ever encountered at Carters Valley Elementary School. He was starting kindergarten and, when we arrived for a tour, Davenport was our guide. We were waiting anxiously by the office when she came bounding around the corner with a smile that lit up the entire hallway. And, though my son was never lucky enough to have her as a teacher, her passion for education and her love of kids was evident in everything she did around the school.

From talent shows and dress-up days to field trips and classroom projects, Ms. Davenport was always ready, always willing, and always eager to do whatever it took to get students excited about learning. She even made the dreaded car line more tolerable, greeting parents and caregivers with her amazing smile and a familiar “Happy Day.” 

One of my favorite memories of Davenport stems from something I overheard once in the hallway — something we would later laugh about.

A little boy said, “Hey, that’s the dragon lady.” How horrible, I thought, that a child so small would dub her a “dragon lady.” From everything I had seen, she was anything but a fire-breathing teacher.

I eventually figured out that what he was actually trying to say was “That’s the dragonfly lady” — a name coined from “Davenport’s Dragonflies,” her classroom theme, and a deserving title for a passionate and dedicated teacher whose mission in life was to equip children with the knowledge and support they needed to find their wings and fly.

“Once a Dragonfly ... Always a Dragonfly!” That’s what she’d always say.

Education was incredibly important to Crystal Davenport. She made no secret of the fact that she had to work really hard to get where she wanted to be and, because of that, she appreciated her opportunities even more.

“I am a first-generation college student in my family. I always knew I wanted to teach, and although it took me a little while longer than most, I am finally doing exactly what I wanted to do,” Davenport wrote on her classroom website.

“I went into the teaching field because of the handful of teachers who made a difference in my life. The ones who believed in me even if I wasn’t the best in the class. I wanted to be one of those teachers. It was in those classes that I tried the hardest, and I was eager to learn more. Why? Simply because they believed in me ... So today I am a teacher ... and once you are my student, you will always be my student. Why? Because ... I BELIEVE IN YOU! Find your wings and FLY!” 

She taught with passion and enthusiasm. She loved with her whole heart. There are no test scores or benchmarks that can truly quantify the impact Davenport has had on her students over the years, or to truly measure the difference she’s made at Carters Valley Elementary School or at Church Hill Intermediate School where she’s spent the past four years teaching fifth- and sixth-graders. Her passing leaves a void that can never be filled.

Family members and friends will gather on Friday to celebrate her life. Calling hours will be from 4 to 8 p.m. at Ridgeview Baptist Church in Church Hill. A Celebration for Crystal will follow at 8 p.m. with the Rev. James Adams and the Rev. John Rogers officiating.

In lieu of flowers, family members have established a trust fund for Crystal’s two teenage daughters — to ensure that they get the college education their mother valued so much. Donations in her honor can be made to the Hannah and Cassie Davenport Trust Fund, c/o Eastman Credit Union, 166 Main St., Mount Carmel, TN 37645.

In coming days, as family members and friends gather to celebrate her life, there’s sure to be lots of tears shed and fond memories shared. Through all of the sadness, the heartaches and the questions that go along with losing someone so young and so suddenly, I suspect we’ll all take comfort in the same thing.

Our beloved Ms. Davenport is watching over all of us — with a brand-new pair of wings.

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