Betsy Davis earns Ernest R. Caverly Award through understanding student perspective



Betsy Davis, who teaches in her French classrooms and serves as the high school’s International Student Adviser recently received the Brookline Education Foundation’s (BEF) Ernest R. Caverly Award.

“À plus!” Students in Betsy Davis’ French classes repeat their phrase of the week amongst themselves, a casual expression that could only be found on the streets of France and never on Google Translate.

After 35 years of teaching at the high school, Davis felt honored to have received the Brookline Education Foundation’s (BEF) Ernest R. Caverly Award this April. Through working with a large variety of students, Davis creates a welcoming environment both in her French classrooms and as the International Student Adviser.

Before teaching at the high school, Davis taught English in France and taught French in Maryland. She began teaching at the high school in 1986 as an English Language Education (ELE) teacher (now known as ESL) and later began teaching French as well.

Freshman Lila Kindall said she appreciated the atmosphere created in Davis’ French 2 Advanced class.

“I think she really makes it easy for people to speak up and encourages us to participate both for the grade but also for our own learning,” Kindall said.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis has been extremely mindful of challenges students may be facing and is diligent about incorporating a five-minute “petit paus” or short break into every class. Junior Josue Anselme said Davis keeps students’ workload and stress at the forefront of her mind.

“She’s the same exact person, but even more understanding. She knows COVID-19 really has affected lots in their mental health,” Anselme said.

Outside of French teaching, Davis’s role as the International Student Advisor is to help integrate international students into the high school community.

Davis said she works to create what she calls a “dignified landing” at the high school.

“It’s really a wonderful job of welcoming new international students and families, helping them with the transition from their country to Brookline,” Davis said. “[I] help them access resources at the high school, in the town and the Boston area, help them understand the American educational system, and help connect kids to other kids and make them feel at home,” Davis said.

Davis said she believes that her role as the International Student Advisor is crucial to the high school.

“I’ve seen that most other public high schools do not have a designated person to welcome their international families, and I think it’s a really great thing that the Brookline Public Schools have decided that this [role] is important,” Davis said. “We want to make a public statement that we value our international families and our international students.”

Kindall said that constantly hearing French during class from Davis and other students and activities like “phrase of the week” have all helped to improve her ability to both understand and speak the language.

“I’m really glad I took this class, because I was worried that the instructions would not be in French and that makes everything easier, which is not really what I was looking for,” Kindall said.

During class time, Kindall witnessed high school administration and members of the BEF announce to a shocked Davis that she had won the Caverly Award.

To win the award, teachers must be nominated by other staff members. However, Davis was unaware that many of her colleagues had joined forces to recognize all of Davis’ hard work.

Davis said she felt honored by her colleagues’ actions and was very impressed.

“It’s amazing with everything that we’re dealing with this year that people could take time to do this, and it really showed that they put so much time and thought and energy into it which makes the award extra amazing,” Davis said.

Along with Francesca Stark, the winner from the elementary school teachers, Davis will speak at BEF’s Celebrating Teachers ceremony on May 11 at 3:30 p.m. over Zoom.

Kindall said Davis completely deserves the award from her experience in the class thus far.

“It was nice to see because you get to see a great teacher who’s really getting rewarded for their work, so I think it was rewarding for us too,” Kindall said.