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My Davis Story: Matthew Barry


Dear Davis Academy Kehillah,

My Davis story begins as a 15-year-old sophomore at Riverwood High School. I knew at that point in my life that I wanted to be a teacher and a coach. The teachers and coaches I had gave me the confidence and passion for learning and athletics, and I wanted to have an impact on future generations of student-athletes in the way they did for me. While at Riverwood, I had a teacher and mentor, Peter Cline, who helped guide me through high school and the college application process. After I graduated, he took the position of Middle School Principal at The Davis Academy, and I went on to attend the University of New Hampshire as an intercollegiate track & field athlete, where I pursued a degree in history and education, always staying in touch with my former teachers and coaches. On school breaks, rather than stay on campus, I came home to Atlanta, where I often visited with Peter at The Davis Academy. As Principal, he let me shadow teachers and learn from them as I pursued my degree. 

As fate would have it, a Middle School social studies position opened, and Peter suggested I use an opportunity over winter break to “practice interview” to get some experience in the teacher application process. As a 21-year-old undergraduate student, I was excited to practice my interview skills and “learn about the interview process” with experienced teachers and coaches, without any expectation of getting the job. When I returned to school, I anticipated continuing my education in a graduate program. However, in late January 2005, I received a phone call with a job offer as the 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher at The Davis Academy. I could not believe it! I was overflowing with joy, excitement, and nervousness when I accepted the position. This was the beginning of my career as an educator and coach. 

From my very first day, as I walked into the halls of The Davis Academy Middle School, met the teachers who are now lifelong mentors and friends, and met my first students, I knew that I had made the best decision of my life.

At Davis, I’ve made lifelong friends who’ve not only helped me become the best teacher I can be, but have also taught me valuable life lessons that I use to this day. I am forever grateful for my Davis colleagues and friends over the years like Susan Fields, Loren Spaulding, Barry Asher, Daniel Bar-Nahum, Drew Frank, Meredith Hegarty, Lori London, and Andra Lefkovits just to name a few. 

Now, in my 18th year at Davis, I can honestly say my entire adult life has been shaped by The Davis Academy. Davis helped me earn my graduate degree from Georgia State University. I’ve coached Davis athletes who started their athletic careers here in Middle School, who have been Middle & High School State Champions and who have continued their athletic career at the intercollegiate level. I’ve been blessed to travel to Israel as a chaperone on ten incredible, life-changing experiences for and with my 8th graders. I’ve experienced our trip to Washington DC with twelve different 7th grade classes, and even had the pride of seeing alum I have taught now working on the hill, including a former student from my first year of teaching who led our 7th graders on a “behind the scenes” tour of the Capitol building.

I’ve been able to celebrate hundreds of b’nai mitzvahs and watch these children blossom on their Jewish journey through life. I’ve had students light my grandmother’s menorah and have watched students read Torah from the same parsha that I read when I became a Bar Mitzvah years ago. I’ve attended dozens of high school graduations of former students, and I’ve even been invited to some of their weddings! I cannot believe it, but I even teach alongside two former students! 

When I reflect on the last 18 years of my life as an educator and coach at The Davis Academy, I attribute much of my personal growth as a Jewish adult to the countless experiences I’ve had here at Davis. 

President John Adams once said “There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, the other how to live.” This statement is the epitome of what The Davis Academy has done for me. Not only have I made a living as an educator and coach, but the faculty, mentors, coaches, Jewish community, families, and most importantly, the children have taught me how to live. I am forever grateful for the life The Davis Academy has given me, and I look forward to sharing my passion for Social Studies, education, and athletics with future generations to come – L’dor Vador.


Matthew Barry
Davis Faculty


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