Rebecca “Becky” Davis, a retired educator who still provides scholarships and dictionaries to local students, is the 2019 Elk Grove Citizen of the Year.
She learned about her new honor when the Elk Grove Citizen of the Year’s committee paid a surprise visit to her home on Sept. 9. They continued a 64-year-old tradition that celebrates an Elk Grove resident every September after counting nomination forms submitted by community members.
Davis told the Citizen that the feeling of being a Citizen of the Year is “still sinking in” for her.
“(I’m thinking), ‘Now what does all of this mean and what do I do now?’” she said. “I know there are plenty of people that could have been chosen.”
Davis worked as a teacher and an administrator for the Elk Grove school district for more than 40 years. She started teaching at Florin Elementary School in 1969 and she embarked on a long career where she worked as a teacher or a vice principal at several elementary schools while the school district steadily grew in campuses and enrollment.
“I decided it was probably something I could do since I worked with kids my whole life,” Davis said about her decision to become an educator.
She then joked about starting her career in “19-hum-mum-mum.”
Davis retired as the founding principal of Roy Herburger Elementary School in 2011.
Chet Madison, the board president of Elk Grove school district, has known her for more than 20 years.
“She always operated at a professional manner in leadership positions,” he said. “She’s very poised and she has a sense of humor as well.”
Despite her retirement, Davis still visits that school during sixth grade promotion ceremonies and she helped install its campus garden.
“She gives out awards and talks to kids about higher education and their future,” Herburger Elementary’s principal, Jennifer Wilbanks said. “She’s just a huge supporter of our kids and our community.”
She mentioned that can still seek advice from Davis on school leadership.
“She definitely supported me and helped me in my leadership based on the legacy she left,” Wilbanks said.
Every year, Davis joins her fellow Rotarians in the Rotary Club of Elk Grove in donating dictionaries to local third graders. Each student receives a book to take home.
“It’s the excitement of seeing the students open up a book and say, ‘It’s mine,’” Davis said about her enjoyment from donating the dictionaries.
Sidney Smith, the president of the Rotary Club of Elk Grove, said that she represents “the best parts” of Elk Grove.
“Her civic-minded approach to service is uncanny,” he said. “Her personal touch in the lives of students and their families is legendary.”
Davis also serves as the chair of scholarships for the Elk Grove Regional Scholarship Foundation, which provided 176 scholarships to local students last year. She said that she awarded a personal scholarship this year to a student who was accepted to the University of California, Davis.
“There are students who probably couldn’t go to college, but they could now get a start and not owe so much (money) in the future,” Davis said about working in a scholarship service.
John Shook, the scholarship foundation’s president, credited her for helping their nonprofit when they were in need.
“Through her drive we have taken our scholarships to a higher level of payouts to our students,” he said. “The foundation is proud to have her on our board and running the scholarship committee.”
An award banquet for Davis is slated for Monday, Nov. 4 at Elk Grove’s Valley Hi Country Club. For information on the Elk Grove Citizen of the Year program, visit www.Elk GroveCA.com/members/citizen-of-the-year.