Q&A: Darnell-Cookman Principal Paul Davis

Mr. Paul Davis (center) stands with Executive Director Kenneth Reddick (left) and Region Superintendent Timothy Simmons.

Mr. Paul Davis (center) stands with Executive Director Kenneth Reddick (left) and Region Superintendent Timothy Simmons.

Diego Montanez

Darnell-Cookman’s principal, Mr. Paul Davis, has had a couple of months on the job at the school. As he puts his vision into place, one of our reporters, Diego Montanez, took the time to ask him some questions that will help students, parents and teachers get to know him better.

  1. What college degrees do you have?

I have a bachelor’s degree, and two master’s degrees in business and human and resources, Ed.S.

  1. Where are you from originally, and do you have a family?

I’m from El Paso, Texas, and I’m a husband and a father of 2.

  1. What’s your plan for making Darnell-Cookman more successful?

I want to improve the branding, and want to establish more programs. I’m looking to bring in more medical programs, through CNA programs or AP college prep programs. I also want to increase organizations after and during school and bring in more activities through intramural athletics. We want to build community and business partnerships where students can get job offers, and also get invited to special programs. Also, we will have special events for the students that can really help the students get into the Darnell spirit. For example, we could have an alumni week with an Olympic-style competition where high school and middle school students have different games throughout the week against faculty and amongst each other. We will also have more dances and after-school activities.

  1. Will you focus more on the medical aspect of Darnell? If so, how?

It’s a hallmark of our school, and everything will be centered around the medical aspect, but in the future there will be more diversity, and that will help with student needs and goals. I’m trying to introduce programs that haven’t been offered by other schools and that can be exclusive to Darnell.

  1. How will you improve academic success for middle school and high school students?

Academic success starts with great instruction and making sure students are supported with proper necessities, such as student labs, and equipment. We can be more successful also by offering and providing certifications for completing rigorous programs or tasks. I’m looking at other programs like Tampa Tech that have many qualifications. These types of programs will help students become successful and provide for their future goals and careers.

  1. What new guidelines will you establish to improve Darnell-Cookman’s school environment?

I’m not looking at any new guidelines. My job is to be a role model and have interactions with students. I also need to be accountable and fair and hold everybody else to the same standards. You will see me attending school activities and providing a positive culture for every student so that our they will Darnell a better school and environment not only for themselves but also for their classmates.

  1. How will you make Darnell more appealing for elementary students coming into middle school, and middle school students going into high school/ How will you improve Darnell enrollment?

Branding. We have to get out to the community and let people know who we are. We will appeal to students and parents through our programs, and we will also show the students what they gain by attending Darnell-Cookman. We are the second-ranked school in Jacksonville, but there are still things we can do better to appeal to the community. Again branding is key, and so is building up the spirit of the students through activities and special programs. We also need our students to promote the school to other friends and peers. I want Darnell to have a culture where high school students promote the school to the middle school students, and where the middle school students tell their out-of-school friends about our success and the benefits of attending Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts.

  1. How has the adjustment been for you going from assistant principal to principal?

To be honest with you the only difference is the scope of responsibility, controlling the whole school instead of one part of it, and also working with the middle school department, which is new for me.

  1. Are there any new events coming to Darnell?

We’re planning those out daily. The goal is to introduce new programs that pertain to only Darnell-Cookman, and we’re in talks right now with partners and with the district to get these approved.

  1. If high school enrollment increases is there a chance for high school sports?

I would love to have school sports. I think that would work wonders for student morale and recruitment. We have to look at it from a facilities perspective. We also need to have gender equity and get everyone involved.

Being at Darnell-Cookman has been extremely busy, but I love it, and Darnell has given me an appreciation for middle school. I believe that Darnell is unique since we can build these students from middle school to high school. I want to see the students walk off the bus in 6th grade and walk across the stage at graduation in 12th grade.