“If you can be open and accept different ideas and ways of doing things, then you can learn a lot from individuals working with Education Pioneers.”

A former professional football player, Dowayne Davis believes in the power of education. For him, football and education have always been connected. “My coaches taught me that I wasn’t here just to become a successful football player but also a successful leader,” Dowayne says.

Dowayne reached the pinnacle of the sport and was drafted into the National Football League. Over the course of his first year, he played for the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Detroit Lions. But Dowayne began to feel that his talents could better serve the community elsewhere. Participating in the NFL’s community outreach programs, he had the opportunity to work with youth and realized that he wanted to impact students’ lives the way his coaches had impacted his. He decided to leave the NFL.

Dowayne began working as a teacher and technology coordinator at University Heights Charter School in Newark, New Jersey, and pursued an MBA. At University Heights, he first encountered Education Pioneers when he interacted with Fellows who had been placed at the school. Dowayne saw the EP leaders’ impact and applied to the program. The Fellowship was the perfect opportunity for him to continue working with the school and broaden his education knowledge by learning from a diverse cohort.

  • Operations
  • Technology & Systems

As a Fellow with University Heights, Dowayne developed a comprehensive platform to measure teacher observation, feedback, and evaluation to improve teacher effectiveness. He enabled the school’s administration to better evaluate the strengths and weakness for each of their teachers and provide targeted professional development to maximize student achievement.

Dowayne’s discussions with his cohort gave him a macro-level perspective on education, and he was able to see where he and his fellow cohort members could help change the education system to better serve all students. 

With renewed enthusiasm for education and a new depth of understanding, Dowayne became Director of Technology and Operations for University Heights after his Fellowship. He still believes in the power of education and is committed to being a force for change in Newark’s schools. Dowayne continues his work in education today as Executive Director of Operations and Finance at YouthBuild.