Photographer, Author, Teacher: Mary Katlin Davis Shares Her Passions on the Accelerate Your Performance Podcast

 In Career Change, Rockstar Teachers, Teacher Certification

On a recent episode of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast, Dr. Janet Pilcher invited Mary Katlin Davis, a renowned photographer, award-winning author, mother of two and soon-to-be certified teacher, to share her story. Mary discusses her journey to teacher certification, sharing the actions and thought processes that led her to enroll in the TeacherReady program.

During the podcast, Mary shares exciting details about her latest children’s book and describes how the TeacherReady program has helped her stay true to her lifestyle, passions and family. Mary also offers invaluable insights for education leaders on how they can support both teachers and students.

I’m sure there are others like me who maybe have always wanted to go into teaching, but again, that traditional classroom setting where you have to be in a structured campus, or you have to follow certain hours, it’s just not as flexible for maybe full-time moms or even business owners, or if they’re working another full-time job. But they want to get out of that profession and go into teaching. I feel like the alternative license program really helps those who are truly passionate about teaching.

– Mary Davis on the Accelerate Your Performance podcast



Listen to the Podcast

Published Books

kylan-the-lion-book-cover   bossy-flossy-book-cover

Read Bossy Flossy and Kylan the Lion >>

Janet Pilcher  0:05

Hello, I’m Janet Pilcher, the host of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast. This podcast focuses on our Nine Principles Framework., supporting leaders and teams to achieve results and be their best at work. I’m thankful for this opportunity to share insights that reinforce our educational core values of having a purpose, doing worthwhile work and making a difference. Let’s jump into today’s episode. I’m excited to introduce you to our guest Mary Davis. Mary is a multi-international award-winning photographer and author and soon-to-be teacher. She is currently enrolled in TeacherReady, our Online Teaching Certification Program. She aspires to teach K 12 art classes or six through 12th Grade English classes. Mary operates her own portrait studio in her hometown of Pana, Illinois. She holds four degrees, two associate degrees one bachelor’s degree and a Master of Fine Arts. Mary is also a member of professional photographers of America, in Northern Illinois and master photographers International, where she competes in print competitions, she received a silver medal and a platinum medal for her outstanding photographic works in two competitions. When she’s not competing or hosting photo exhibits, she’s often found writing, she’s written three screenplays and two children’s books. Her first children’s book titled Bossy Flossy, which was inspired by her daughter landed on Amazon’s best sellers list with a five-star rating. She hopes her newly launched children’s book Kylan the Lion, which was inspired by her son will have that same success. I am so excited to have Mary join our show today. Mary, it’s so glad I’m so glad to have you here. I’ve been looking forward to this interview and just appreciate you being with us. So as we open it up today, just tell us a little bit about you.

Mary Katlin Davis  2:15 

Well, yes, thank you for including me on this. It’s very exciting. And just a little background about me. I am a portrait photographer. I’ve been doing that for about 12 years now. I’m a mother to two children. And I’m also part of the TeacherReady program, getting my certification in K through 12 art as well as six through 12 English.

Janet Pilcher  2:42 

So good. We’re so glad that you’re part of TeacherReady. You know, I think you may know that I had an opportunity when I was dean of a college to start TeacherReady start that program two decades ago. So it’s very near and dear to my heart. And I was an alternatively certified teacher when I started years and years ago. So just glad that I’m glad that we can provide that service. And so glad you’re part of our program, and I just look forward to sharing the talents that you bring to us today. And you have many as you said, you’re an author or photographer and just a few. But so how have you been able to use these talents just in your life in general?

Mary Katlin Davis  3:21 

So with my photography, how I’ve used that talent is by first I started a business in Illinois in a small town called Painter, where I opened up my studio in 2011. And it’s still going on today? Well, yes, we’ve also been able to compete internationally with my portrait studio with my works. And, in 2021, I actually was able to win a Platinum Award for my photographic works, which only 74 people in the world are able to achieve. And twice I thought that was really, really cool from coming from a small town. And also just being able to use photography as a way to network with different clients. And it just kind of opened doors to new experiences, especially with teaching where I was able to do some photo walks for our community where I taught the members of our town different composition elements or different ways to use their camera while we walked and explored our town together as a unit. And that’s been really fun.

Janet Pilcher  4:31 

Yeah, so you know, it’s interesting as you look at your talents and what you do is kind of an outcome from your talents. But what I also hear Mary is that you’re kind of a natural-born teacher as well because you like to teach others

Mary Katlin Davis  4:47 

so I do and I’m and kind of one of my goals is why I do so many different things is so that when I do become an official educator and I have a position that I can act really teach students these real-world applications and how it applies to the standards.

Janet Pilcher  5:05 

Yeah, I love that. And as one of your many talents, you’ve written two children’s books. One is an Amazon bestseller and another new book published this April. So let’s talk about that talk about what drove you to publish the children’s books.

Mary Katlin Davis  5:24 

It’s kind of funny, because it actually, one summer, we were watching the kids play out in the backyard, and I was just sitting there watching them and my daughter, she’s got a little bit of a bossy personality. She’s the younger out of the whole group. And we just were laughing at how she was just kind of telling these older kids what to do. And we just started talking in rhymes, I looked at my husband and said, Oh, she’s such a bossy flossy. And, you know, she’d probably grew up in a house that’s pink with trees that are mossy, and then he looked at me, and he’s like, that would be such a good story. And I’m like, Really, and I thought about and I thought, you know, I think there is something there, maybe I should go ahead and try it and write it. Learn about what it takes to publish a book, get the copyrights. And then again, if I get into like an English six to 12 setting, as a teacher, I can teach students this is the process if you want to be a published author, and how to get your own works out there.

Janet Pilcher  6:19 

Oh I love that. And you know what, Mary, it just reminds me of a story here. So and one of our colleagues who works with me, knows a dachshund that I had her name was Hannah. She lived at 17 and a half and passed away. years ago, but people at the college knew her. You know, really, really? Yeah. And so I call she we called her Hannah banana. And

Mary Katlin Davis  6:46
so fitting, it is

Janet Pilcher  6:47 
So fitting. I’m like, so I’ve always wanted to like I’m like, somebody should write a children’s book on Hannah banana. Because when we were creating a product, a technology product, we would say Hannah banana, the i binder user, right? It was we had and then and then the other one that I always clean for her as Hannah banana, the ridiculous dog? Oh, it’s kind of the same, you know, the same thing? Yeah. Like, oh, my gosh, somebody you can just see this, like, extravagant picture of book. And it would be, it would say, hey, that might be at some point, we might, I can use your talents I don’t have.

Mary Katlin Davis  7:24 

Sure I would love I love to teach, you know, anybody, any age group, it doesn’t matter if it’s, you know, my nine-year-old or if it’s my mentor at student teaching, she kind of wants me to show her the process as well. So

Janet Pilcher  7:38 

I’m loving it. Okay, we’re gonna it’s gonna be a deal. Mary, you’re gonna, I’ve always been in the back of my mind. And I’m like, we gotta I gotta do it. So that’s gonna, that’s gonna be on our agenda to do together. I’d love to play with that. That’s the deal. Sounds good. So, so both of your books are named after your children then, Right?

Mary Katlin Davis  7:59 

Yeah, so Bossy Flossy was inspired by my daughter. And then Kylan the Lion, which just recently came out is inspired by my son. And when I wrote these books, not only wasn’t just for them, but I also wanted to make sure when I talked to the illustrator that any child who opened my books could be seen because that was really important to me that they could see themselves in the story that they could see themselves in the illustration, and that they learned a little bit of a moral lesson.

Janet Pilcher  8:27 

And that’s so that’s, that’s kind of your theme that runs through your books, then regardless of the books, you kind of have that, that theme that’s there. So talk just a little bit more about that, like, what, what drives that.

Mary Katlin Davis  8:41 

I just think it’s important to have cultural awareness for children to learn social empathy, especially toward others. And just being able to in a society where it seems like morals are harder, I guess to acquire nowadays, I feel like for children to learn those not standards, but a learn that type of behaviors, you know, learning what is socially acceptable, depending on your environment, I think it’s really important, no matter what age really, but I just wanted that for my kids. And I wanted it for other children too. So they had those opportunities when they read my books that not only are they learning a lesson, but they get to see themselves, they get to see others that maybe they wouldn’t have seen in their social settings. And I just think it kind of forms a really nice positive environment, like a positive mindset and growth.

Janet Pilcher  9:38 

Yeah, that’s, that’s so good. You know, just and I love listening to your answer there because sometimes when you read the book, you don’t get kind of that behind. You can see that in terms of interpretation of the book, but you know, just your explanation of that, I think really, really provides a great service to our young people. And speaking of speaking, have a great day. Nervous, you’re going to be a teacher, as we talked about going through, the TeacherReady program. I just so as you manage through your talents, and like we talked about your natural-born teacher, but what motivated you actually to make a decision to teach and get your teaching certificate?

Mary Katlin Davis  10:17 

So I feel like there’s two, two answers to this question. I think the first one is that I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but never really had the opportunity at the time when I was wanting to go back to school, because when you’re a mother with two little ones, the traditional classroom is really not built for you. And so it was at the time, there wasn’t really any alternative programs in Illinois, and there really still isn’t. And so I just kind of waited for the opportunity. And when COVID hit, I was able to take advantage of online learning and finish my master’s degree. And after that, I was introduced by another teacher who I was subbing for about the TeacherReady program. And once I found out about them, and I researched about TeacherReady, I knew it was the program for me, and I just loved the flexibility, the support systems that were there. And plus the cost was very, very reasonable. And I thought I’m gonna do this. And so I went for it, and I’m so glad that I did, that I haven’t looked back, and then I’m going right into it.

Janet Pilcher  11:24 

Good. And we’re so glad that you’re here. And you know what, that’s exactly why the program is there, you know, it’s a, it’s to say, we want to build great quality, have great instructors who have interaction, have opportunities to be in the classroom with mentors and build all the pieces and parts there. But also the flexibility so that people like you can get in the classroom and teach because you’re going to be your you’re going to be some of our best teachers. And that’s what we found over the years, some incredible, incredible teachers in the classrooms that have gone through our program. So we’re fortunate to be able to offer that to people like you,

Mary Katlin Davis  12:03 

it’s, it’s a great program, because, you know, I’m sure there’s others like me, who maybe have always wanted to go into teaching, but again, that traditional classroom setting where you have to be in a structured campus, or you have to follow certain hours, it’s just not as flexible for maybe full-time moms or, or even business owners or if they’re working another full-time job, but they want to get out of that profession and go into teaching. I feel like the alternative license program really helps those who are truly passionate about teaching. That’s right, get into that profession.

Janet Pilcher  12:38 

Absolutely. Right on. And that’s, that’s exactly the type of teachers we want, you know, in the classroom, that that, that just have that great passion. You know, as we close today, teaching is such an important profession. And I want so much for us to really, like stand and really promote that teachers really need the support of people and need to be heard and listened to. Because there’s nothing more important in a child’s why their parents, but I mean, there’s in terms of that external connection, there’s nothing more important in a child’s life to help them advance from one place to another than a teacher, the great we have we have those teachers that influenced us. Absolutely ways. So. So you know, as we close today, what advice would you offer our listeners and how maybe we could support teachers and our students better than what we’re doing right now?

Mary Katlin Davis  13:36 

I think for someone like me, as you know, I’m getting ready to be a new teacher, I’m green in this profession. I think having strong mentorship from veteran teachers or those who have taught in the past. Giving that support system and encouragement, as well as having a strong admin who has empathy. Because the reality is, we can only learn so much from books. And really, once we get in that classroom, we’re going to learn some things just from experience that we never thought that we would face before. And there’s going to be challenges. And I think as we go through those challenges, and we’re and we’re learning about ourselves as a teacher, we’re learning about what our teaching style is, we’re forming these relationships, I think having that support is going to be crucial to continuing through the profession, making sure that there’s that community of a tight, you know, a tight-knit community that has your back, that’s here to give you positive reinforcement, as well as you know, tips and tricks along the way that will help with your classroom management or maybe with unpacking standards so that you can not only be an effective teacher but also an efficient teacher. I think that’s going to be the most important is having an administration that’s not only flexible but empathetic knowing that the first two years probably going to be a learning curve. And also just having those veteran teachers who are willing to just kind of take you under their wing and show you, hey, this was great how you did this. But I noticed that if you do, maybe this little trick is going to save you so much more time where you can go home at this hour, and, you know, just things like that and that they might not know right away, because they’re new.

Janet Pilcher  15:21 

So I love that, you know, first of all, there are a lot of listeners that we have, who are leaders in our field of work that we do. So as the TeacherReady program, and we also work with superintendents, executive team and leaders across the country in school, so many of our listeners are leaders. So I know they hear you loud and clear in terms of how they held they, as principals and other leaders can be supportive of people with great passion like you coming into the profession so that you don’t lose that passion. Right. The other piece, you know, that I love is the mentor teacher, I will always remember Mary, my first year teaching, and I had an unbelievably great mentor, I taught high school math, and I had an unbelievably great mentor teacher, she determined whether or not I would stay in the classroom and continue after year one. And because she was so good and encouraged me and you know, recognize me and gave me confidence, but also help guide me with good feedback and in a very gentle way. Know, because of that, you know, I became a better teacher, and I stayed in the profession because I knew that I could count on them. So I love what you said, later. Listen, you know, listen to Mary, because that, that support and guidance from you with great empathy is important and gives those mentor teachers an opportunity to really engage with, with our teachers, thank you for that.

Mary Katlin Davis  16:58 

I just like the word that you use gentle because I think that’s a perfect word. Because when you’re doing something new for the first time as we learn as teachers, when you’re, you know, unconsciously unskilled, then you become consciously unskilled. And I think even though even when you are officially a teacher, when you’re first learning how to be in a classroom, that’s your own, and you have your own students and you’re trying to build relationships, you kind of become unconscious, you become consciously aware that I really am new to this. And this is a little overwhelming, and I’m stressed. I think having people just say, You know what, we’ve all been there. We’ve all felt this way, you’re going to be okay, like, you know, it’s I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and there’s times where I just go, Hey, I am still struggling with this myself and making it more human, making it a human type of experience that, you know, we’re all not perfect. We’re all gonna make mistakes, but we all have each other’s backs, and we’re all gonna help each other grow. You know, we’re gonna thrive together.

Janet Pilcher  18:01 

Yeah, yes. So good. This has been such a fun, fun time. For me, Mary, what you’re presenting today is the heart of the work that we do the teachers who connect with our students and give them great opportunities. That’s all while we got into this profession to begin with. And I am so appreciative to you for the contributions you make as an author, and for the many contributions that you’re going to make as a teacher in the classroom. Thank you. I appreciate that. Thanks. Thank you for joining this profession.

Mary Katlin Davis  18:34 

I’m just happy to be here with you. So yes,

Janet Pilcher  18:37 

That’s great. So thanks so much. And we’re gonna I’m gonna connect back with you’re gonna teach me how to how to turn Hannah banana into something that’s alive and well. How about that?

Mary Katlin Davis  18:48 

Yes, I will. I will show you the ropes on how to do that. And even if you don’t have an illustrator, I can teach you some things on AI.

Janet Pilcher  18:56 

Okay, that sounds good. That’s right. Thank you so much. And thank you appreciate the time, I think you can see that Mary is going to be an unbelievably great teacher in our classroom. Wow, how lucky her students are going to be. And I also look forward to learning more from Mary so that she can teach me things that I have always wanted to learn how to do but not done in my life. And that’s what it’s all about as her bringing her talents to the classroom to teach in ways that students will become engaged and love learning. Thank you, Mary for the contributions that you’re making and will continue to make. And as always, I thank you for tuning in to this episode of Accelerate Your Performance. Please share this episode with a friend or colleague you think this episode will be meaningful to you. And also we’d love to connect with you on social media. So to get the scoop on upcoming episodes please follow Accelerate Your Performance on Instagram. You can also follow Studer Education on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to get a peek at upcoming episodes and highlights. I look forward to connecting with you next time as we continue to focus on the nine principles framework so that we can be our best at work. Have a great week.

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