Return to Headlines

Retired DES Principal Cherry Davidson named Associate Superintendent for Principal Support

woman in a suit and blazer smiles at the camera with her hands by her side

ACS welcomes back retired Donelson Elementary School Principal Mrs. Cherry Davidson as the new part-time Associate Superintendent for Principal Support. Mrs. Davidson will be working in a non-supervisory mentoring role to assist the district’s principals by providing guidance and helping them meet professional growth goals. This new position is one that all four principals, who are all relatively new to their positions, have indicated a need for and welcomed the opportunity to be mentored in their own, specific identified areas by someone of Mrs. Davidson’s educational and leadership background.

“ACS is fortunate to have attracted someone of Mrs. Davidson’s caliber back to the district from retirement,” said Superintendent Jeff Mayo. “During her career, she demonstrated a high level of expertise in student achievement and growth, and the lessons in leadership she learned over her career will be of great value to our principals. While our district and schools are already high performing and in the Top 10 across the state, it is very difficult for us to show growth when you are already near the top, but I believe Mrs. Davidson’s proven skillset in both achievement and growth will help principals move that needle forward. She will give our principals new and proven strategies to empower them to move their schools to the next level, while also helping them mentor and train assistant principals for succession planning.”

During her 30+ year career, 16 of which were served as principal, Mrs. Davidson led Donelson Elementary to become a National Blue Ribbon Exemplary High Performing School – the district’s first and only! While a principal in Shelby County Schools, she was one of two principals among 52 who was awarded by then Superintendent John Aitken “school autonomy,” which allowed her to establish her school’s own professional development guidelines, in lieu of the district’s, due to her demonstrated leadership in top test scores and school climate survey results. She’s also had the rare opportunity to open three new schools, including Dexter Elementary, Donelson Elementary and, just this year, a new Christian school in east Tennessee called Legacy Christian Academy. Under her leadership, both Dexter Elementary and Donelson Elementary, two very demographically different schools with their own unique challenges, earned straight A’s on the schools' report cards and managed to earn Level 5 and Reward School status year after year, an extraordinary feat. In addition to being principal, she has also served as a teacher and an assistant principal, and she has had experience at all grade bands from elementary to high school.

Here locally, Donelson Elementary won the following awards in addition to the National Blue Ribbon School while Mrs. Davidson was principal:

  • Reward School
  • West Tennessee Value-Added Achievement Award from the Educator Consumers Foundation
  • Third Best Public School in the Memphis-Metro Area, awarded by Niche Ratings
  • A+ School in Elementary Math by the Memphis Business Journal
  • 3rd Best Elementary School (of 647) in Tennessee by

Additionally, Mrs. Davidson was selected as Arlington Community Schools first Principal of the Year by her peers, the central office executive staff and superintendent.

“Over the last few years, I have watched ACS excel under Mr. Mayo’s leadership as he has worked hard to build a true community atmosphere,” Davidson said. “ It was a hard decision to give up retirement, but ACS has become such a warm, nurturing, and people-centered culture under his leadership and I want to be a part of that. I know that at the same time Mr. Mayo is firm and fair when dealing with difficult or unpopular decisions and his leadership style aligns closely with mine. I am so excited to be coming ‘home’ in this new role. While it’s part-time, everyone who knows me knows that I’ll be working full-time and will be fully accessible to the principals and the superintendent.  I am so excited about this opportunity and feel that I can contribute to principals achieving their next level of leadership.”

Mrs. Davidson now resides at her lake house in East Tennessee with her husband and enjoys spoiling her grandchildren, cooking, gardening, canning, boating, and socializing with her church friends and neighbors.  Now that Legacy Christian Academy is up and running well, she will remain on the board of directors/school board and continue to serve as a consultant while making frequent visits to Arlington to work with our ACS principals.