Vincent Dave is Gresham’s ‘Amazing STEM teacher’

Susan EspirituFountain City

Melissa Glover, principal of Gresham Middle School, describes Vincent Dave as “Amazing STEM teacher who is dedicated to providing opportunities for our students.” So, I wanted to know Vincent’s journey to Gresham, my alma mater, (I was actually the first class to graduate from Gresham way back in the day!)

Vincent, Derrin, Natalie and Ronnie Dave

Vincent grew up in Knoxville in a family of four: dad Ronnie, mom Natalie and brother Derrin. He attended Mooreland Heights Elementary school where his mother was a teacher, igniting his passion to follow her footsteps into education. He continued through the Knox County Schools system, graduating from Fulton High school in 2003, where he was a broadcaster on the Fulton High radio station, 91.1 WKCS. Vincent says it was the radio broadcasting at Fulton that led to him to attending Middle Tennessee State University.

After graduating with a bachelor’s in mass comunication from MTSU, Vincent moved to UT Chattanooga to get his master’s in middle grades education where he made the Dean’s list. The process of gaining both degrees taught him perseverance and a never-quit attitude to which he credits his ability to conquer anything that is tough in teaching now.

His motto on his email signature page belies his philosophy: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

He began his teaching career in Asheboro, North Carolina, at North Asheboro Middle School, a school with a 78% Hispanic enrollment, which made learning Spanish a necessity, providing Vincent the opportunity to learn the meaning of a different culture and the importance of being respected, loved and honored, which he says is remembered every day in today’s very diverse schools.

Vincent Dave has faced several challenges as an educator, but again he exemplifies one of his favorite quotes by Kobe Bryant, “Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success.”

Not only did he move from an out-of-state school system in North Carolina to Knox County, he also was challenged to move from teaching sixth grade social studies to teaching 6-8-grade STEM content in a 2-month period of time.

However, he overcame these challenges with acclimating himself to content and staff at Gresham who, he said, allowed him to feel welcomed into the school and the community along with having the support of his family and close friends.

Like all educators during 2020, he faced the challenge of adapting to remote learning during the pandemic, but he overcame it by implementing activities that kept his students engaged while still learning the content.

Dave has been recognized, not only by his principal, but also by his colleagues as he was Teacher of the Month in October 2022 and nominated for Gresham Teacher of the Year in 2023.

He has learned valuable lessons through his life as a student, as a coach and as a teacher that he hopes to help other educators bring to their relationships with students. He feels strongly that students need not only an educator, but they need a mentor who is willing to guide them. Patience is key; without it, giving the students your very best will not be sustainable.

One of his most memorable stories happened during the Covid shutdown, when he sponsored two former students through Facebook adopt-a-student, who were graduating high school. “Sponsoring these two students was very meaningful. It brought joy to do this for them and when these students remembered me as their favorite teacher and said I understood them like some could not and that helped them be successful, it was even more meaningful to me.”

Not surprising that his future goals are to continue enriching the lives of others, teaching other educators what he has learned and spreading the joy of teaching and its many benefits.

What a blessing to the profession, to the Gresham students and to the community to have Vincent Dave’s dedication!

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