The 49-year-old was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sept. 25 and reported severe symptoms during that weekend, including nausea, fever, and vomiting. A few days later, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted to the intensive care unit in Pinehurst, where she died on Oct. 4.
“She was just a mother to everyone -- to me, her students, and even her colleagues,” her 22-year-old daughter, Leanna Richardson, told NBC. “People have reached out to me from years and years ago telling me how much they loved her as a teacher and mentor. She has always been that person you knew who you could depend on, no matter what.”
Davis, a lifelong resident of North Carolina, left her accounting career and become a teacher after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, where two students killed 13 people and wounded 24 others.
“She told me there was no hesitation. She wanted to be there to protect students like me when I grew up,” Richardson said. “She was so selfless and loving and just completely abandoned her career to teach.”
Davis returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in English. She taught at Page Street Elementary School in Troy for 16 years and then moved to Norwood Elementary School in Stanly County last year.
“If you were a child in need, she would do everything she could to help,” Richardson told The Charlotte Observer. “She would donate things, she would show up for extracurricular activities to support her kids -- she would do anything she could to nourish every child she met.”
When the coronavirus pandemic disrupted school in March, Davis stayed focused on her students. She was nervous about returning to the classroom in August, when elementary school students came back to in-person classes full-time, but decided to do it. She wore a face mask outside of the house and was careful to only pick up groceries or medications at store curbsides or drive-through windows, her brother Stan Andrews told the newspaper.
Her school’s first COVID-19 case was a student who tested positive on Sept. 3. The student was in another grade and didn’t have contact with Davis and tested negative before returning to school. The school district told the newspaper that Davis didn’t contract the virus at school, though contact tracing hasn’t revealed clues as to how she became infected.
“She was determined, when she went back this year,” Richardson told the newspaper, “that she was going to do all she could to keep the children in her classroom safe.”