#IAMSHAKER Spotlight: Onaway Volunteer Jay Davis (SHHS ‘54)
Jay Davis attended Onaway Elementary
School as a child and graduated from
Shaker Heights High School 66 years
ago in 1954. All three of his now-grown
children graduated from Shaker Heights
High School. He and wife, Jane, still call
the Onaway neighborhood home. And
for the past 12 years, he’s been a regular
volunteer at his former elementary
school, where he provides additional
support to students who are struggling
readers. Read more about Davis and his
connections to Onaway, both old
When did you graduate from Onaway?
I graduated in 1947. I lived in a
house just across the street from the
Woodbury Rose Garden.
What was your favorite memory of
your time at Onaway as a student?
I loved Onaway. I really did. But in the
beginning, I was not a particularly wellprepared
student. Both of my parents
were immigrants, so I didn’t have the
benefit of knowing all the little stories
that kids whose parents were American
10 WINTER 2020 | WWW.SHAKER .LIFE
knew. In my early years, I didn’t feel like I fit in because it always seemed like the
other kids knew more about what was going on than I did. And then the awakening
came with my wonderful second grade teacher, Mabel Everett. She was instrumental
in straightening me out and from then on, school was easy. I got good grades and
I didn’t have a problem. Really, as I became more comfortable with things and had
more exposure, then everything seemed to fall into place.
Where did you go after you graduated?
I attended Dartmouth and got my BA, then I joined the National Guard. I was on
active duty for a portion of 1959. I was discharged for an injury so I went to work as
an insurance agent for an insurance agency and I stayed there until I retired. I like to
joke that I never had to write a resume.
What brought you back to Onaway?
After I retired, I was at a social event and ran into a gal whose husband was a friend
of mine at Shaker. She was a teacher at Onaway and I had told her that I wanted to
do some volunteer work to give something back. I was debating whether I wanted
to work with the old or with the young, so she invited me to sit in with one of her
classes. One thing led to another and I started working with a few teachers and
began doing repeated reading with students.
What is it that keeps you coming back to Onaway as a volunteer?
I have about four groups of students with three students each that I meet with twice
a week. It’s rewarding for me and for the students to see the results. My hope is that
the students use the habits we work on throughout their lives, not just in school,
because learning to be a good reader is something that’s so beneficial in life.
Learn more about volunteering at Shaker Schools at shaker.org/face.aspx