EARLY — Sally Davis knew in kindergarten she wanted to be a teacher.

“I just liked school so much, and my poor little brother — I would come home and make him sit in a chair and do play school, whether he liked it or not,” Davis said in her art classroom at Early Middle School, where she teaches grades 6, 7 and 8.

When Davis was a middle school student, she knew she was not only going to be a teacher — she was going to be an art teacher.

“It was my middle school art teacher,” Davis said. “I knew I wanted to be a teacher since kindergarten and I was going to be a teacher. 

“Then I got into middle school and my art teacher just opened me up to all kinds of different ideas, different materials, and then that’s when it dawned on me: I could be a teacher and do art at the same time. That’s when I resolved to be an art teacher.”

Davis, a Kansas native, is a 35-year teaching veteran and is in her third year at Early Middle School.

Her classroom is filled with her students’ projects, some finished, some unfinished. Several dozen paper mache sculptures in the classroom are awaiting completion.

Davis, her husband Matthew and their two daughters moved from Kansas to Brown County in 2006 after Matthew Davis was transferred here by his employer, Superior Essex.

Waiting for a job to come up teaching art, Davis worked for a year as a teacher’s aide at Northwest Elementary School. She then taught art in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 in the Mullin school district before taking the Early Middle School job.

When asked to describe the appeal of teaching art, Davis replied, “It is watching the kids create. It’s watching them get their ideas and develop them, and the surprises that are here every single day.

“There’s no two days that are ever alike. No lesson every runs the same because the students all take them in different directions. It is just so fun to watch these kids get into their projects and do things.”

Art education involves components including problem solving and critical thinking skills, math and measurements, Davis said.

“It also gives them a sense of self expression and gives a voice that they may not ever have otherwise,” Davis said. “They realize they can express themselves in ways that they never thought of before. And it can carry on with them the rest of their lives.”

Middle school is Davis’ favorite age group because “one day they’re kids and and the next day … they’re like all of the ages in one. You just never know which one you’re going to get.”

In addition to having two daughters, Davis was excited to say she she is also a grandma.

Reflecting on her job, Davis said, “I’m just lucky I have a job that I enjoy going to every single day. I get to play with crayons and paint and paper mache. The kids —  sometimes they’ll think of a new direction to take, something that I never thought of before and we’ll go ‘hey, well, let’s just go there.’

“And when the kids say that they can walk in here and they just kind of relax, this is the class that they can just kind of be themselves in and just relax — that’s important. I want them to feel comfortable where they’re at.”