Lorita Davis is a brave, strong woman.
From living through an earthquake and surviving after a ministroke from Covid to raising grandkids and caring for our most fragile students, Davis hasn’t met a challenge she can’t handle.
“My favorite part is working with kids – transitioning them,” said Davis, paraprofessional in the Special Education department at Herty Primary. “I pray when I come to work asking for guidance, strength, grace for our kids, our teachers and for one another.”
That strength comes from a life of change and challenges. Davis was raised in Liberia by her grandmother who hid her away when she was just a baby as her mother was leaving for the United States. After her grandmother passed away, she joined her mom in New York City as a freshman in high school. There she enjoyed school, played volleyball, and saw her first snowflakes.
“When I got to New York I lived in Poughkeepsie,” she said. “I saw my first snowflakes. Snow was up to my knees. I didn’t want to go to school!”
While in New York, she received a nursing certificate which certainly helps in her daily job working with Special Education students. From New York, she took off and went to San Jose, California. There, she met her husband who was in the Navy and from Lufkin, Texas. After living in San Jose for a while even experiencing an earthquake that was a 5.0 on the Richter scale, they moved to Lufkin.
Davis has worked for 28 years in the district on several campuses including: Coston Elementary, Brandon Elementary, Hackney Primary and Herty Primary. Currently, Davis takes care of children ages 3 to 7 with all kinds of physical and cognitive challenges.
“I love it!” said Davis. “I love to see them grow. They can’t feed themselves and when they leave, they can. We help them one on one. I get to work at 7:15 a.m. and leave at 3:30 p.m. and it’s a full day.”
Although she would like to go back to Liberia one day for a visit, she loves living in Lufkin.
“I love it (Lufkin),” she said. “You’re not going to get me to go anywhere else. I love to support our Panthers.”
She and her husband have been married for 37 years. They had four children and now have five grandchildren. Taking after Davis, one of her granddaughters plays volleyball at Lufkin High School. Davis helps to take care of her grandkids so her daughter can become a nurse.
“When I came to the US and started having kids, I had to work,” said Davis. “Now I can help my daughter with her kids so she can become a nurse.
“I love baking. I learned from my mother, aunt and my grandmother. I love to make curry chicken.”
The staff at Herty named a cake after her that she bakes for them called the ‘Lorita Cake’. She claims it’s just a dump cake, but it’s special the way she makes it.
During Covid, times were hard for Davis. She caught the illness and experienced a ministroke. She had to go to therapy and speech resulting in a 3-month recovery.
“Prayer is very important,” she said. “One of the hardest things through Covid was not being able to see smiles or give hugs.”
According to staff members, she gives the best hugs.
When asked what advice she would give to others wanting to go into the Special Education field, she said, “Love the profession. Love what you’re doing. BE your calling. Love kids. Love people.”
Simply said from a woman with strong faith and a positive outlook for the future.