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Educator recognized with 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award

"In my heart, I feel like I've been thanking St. Andrews all my life," said Nancy Williams Davies '71 in accepting the 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Davies was honored during the Alumni Banquet as a part of the Alumni Weekend 2010 activities.

"Nancy has served her community through an educational vision, exemplified by her founding of the Orchard House School in Richmond, Va.," said College President Paul Baldasare in presenting the award. "The school is specifically designed to meet the academic, social and developmental needs of middle school girls in the Richmond area."

Davies took the lessons she learned from "father figure W.D. White", "cool dude Dick Prust" and "sage Ron Bayes" to shape her life after college. The English major went on to earn her Master's Degree in Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. While her graduate degree helped her develop an understanding of pedagogy and the teaching profession, Davies often cites her educational experience at St. Andrews as inspiration to her vision for a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to educating young girls.

"St. Andrews changed the course of my life and I landed in a place where education made sense to me," she said.

Nancy Williams Davies

Davies began her post graduate career teaching in elementary, middle and secondary schools. In 1994, with a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, she conducted extensive research on the growth and development of middle school girls with a focus on the most effective educational strategies for them. The research culminated at a national symposium with her presentation of the widely acclaimed paper entitled Empowering Girls: Strategies for Parents and Teachers.

It was through that presentation that the Orchard School was born. A group of parents from the Richmond area in attendance were so impressed that they hired her to more fully develop her ideas into a tangible format. The resulting school opened in 1998 with 17 middle schoolers and a small team of committed teachers including Davies.

Over the past 12 years, Davies has emerged as one of the leading national experts in the study and understanding of the educational needs of adolescent girls. Yet the recognitions and honors previously received did not prepare her for the Distinguished Alumni Award.

"In March, I had not looked at the mail all week," Davies said. "I saw an envelope from St. Andrews and as I was coming off a fellowship at Columbia I wasn't sure what to expect. I read the letter telling me I'd been selected for this honor and burst into tears.

"You saw me, took a chance on me as an 18 year old," she said. "Thank you for cultivating me."

Do you know someone who should be recognized as the St. Andrews Presbyterian College 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award winner? Fill out the nomination form found here and return by January 14, 2011. The award will be presented at Alumni Weekend April 15-16, 2011.
Return to Alumni & Friends Magazine 2010
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