2003 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll
Wyandotte High School — Class of 1970
For all practical purposes, Kathy Davis is a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, providing education to a variety of students at all different grade levels. But the schoolhouse is actually located in the pediatric department of the University of Kansas Medical Center, and her lessons are not limited to reading, writing and arithmetic, but also include enhancing the quality of life of patients, support for parents and siblings, education and consultation for school staff and peers, and end-of-life care, among other subjects.
As the director of education and child life at University of Kansas Medical Center, the real services Kathy provides, and the way she touches the lives of many, go far beyond homework and class work. She is always willing to go above and beyond what is expected of her. An example of this is when she was able to help a terminally ill student fulfill his one wish of graduating before he passed away. He fell beyond the normal parameters, but Kathy worked hard to help the principal understand that providing some flexibility in policy could grant this wish and not damage the school’s standards. Due to Kathy’s persistence and dedication, the young man was able to graduate one week before he died. On another occasion, Kathy arranged to have a tea party for a young girl who was longing for the tea parties she had at home. Many of these situations must fall after school hours or on the weekend, but her schedule always seems to accommodate them.
It was Kathy’s geography teacher at Northwest Middle School, Mr. Christopher, who inspired her to go into the field of teaching. After graduating from Wyandotte High School in 1970, Kathy earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education from the University of Kansas. She then taught at the R.J. Delano School in Kansas City, Mo., where she worked with students with physical and orthopedic impairments. In 1983, she started a program at the University of Kansas Medical Center that provides educational support and school re-entry services for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and injuries. She continues to work there today. She is also currently working on a Ph.D. in therapeutic science at the University of Kansas.
Although Kathy must overcome challenges that are not present in a normal school setting, she finds that she is able to learn from these situations. “The families and children I work with have taught me that diligence, dedication, and desire can pave the road to unbelievable success,” she says. “I am awed by the constant reminder life is such a gift, and we have complete control over how we choose to use that gift. Our choices must be made wisely, and in doing so, we can hope to continue to learn and grow personally, while offering the products of our efforts to others in an attempt to continue the cycle of inspiration and Reasons to Believe.”
Kathy has two grown children who are a constant source of pride and love. Her daughter, Meagan, is an early-childhood special educator in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools and her son, Tyler, is in the Air Force studying satellite communications.