Shirley Davis Retires from PACCC After 34 Years

March 22nd, 2019

In his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, the American historian writes, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” This is no less evident that in the life and work of Shirley Davis, who this past December, retired from PACCC after 34 remarkable years. Shirley Davis is PACCC. She’s one of many long-standing faces at PACCC whose consistency and passion have been a steadying force and influence in the lives of countless children. Shirley has seen children take their first steps, discover the world with wonder as preschoolers and develop independence during the elementary school years. Like other teachers with her dedication, she is imbedded in the lives of whole families as she cares for one child, and then their little brother after and perhaps their little sister after that. And for those in whom the years have grown long they share the pleasure, like Shirley, of seeing the children they cared for grow up as adults with their own children.


On the precipice of her retirement, Shirley reflected on her years with PACCC, the lessons she’s learned and what she thinks about her legacy.


How it All Began


Shirley began her child care career like many teachers who have walked through PACCC doors, as an Early CHildhood Education (ECE)  student who worked as a substitute teacher for PACCC. While Shirley pursued her ECE credential at Canada College and later San Jose State, she worked at Sojourner Truth Child Development Center and a few years later was named  director of Hoover Kids’ Club, then on Barron Avenue.

On the Rewards of Working with Children


“When I see them come back and they say hi. I had a couple of girls come back the end of last school year. They were on their way to college. And I had not seen them in six years. One was going away to [college] in San Diego and one was going back East to college and I said ‘it’s been six years since I’ve seen these girls, you know, they were like fifth graders.. When I see them in the market, when I see them wherever, they stop and say hi.


I was over at the market, I’m always at the market, and it was a brother and sister. It was evening time and they must have seen me go into the market. And when I came outside they were standing with their dad, waiting to say hi to me. So that makes me feel good. That means I did something good.”


On Children as Teachers


“Every day I learn something new from my children and I let them know that. It could be just something simple. Something they say. The way they interact with one another. And I tell them, ‘every day guys, I learn something new’ [laughs]. And that’s the good part, when you can learn from children and you don’t close your mind...they can teach you a lot.”


On A Key Lesson She’s Learned Over the Years


“Just trying to learn how to say you’re right to a parent or you’re right to a child even. I don’t have to always be right. I’ve learned to not say ‘well that’s not okay or you shouldn’t say that’. I can just say ‘well, you’re right, we just have a different opinion about it’ So, being challenged in that area and still trying to come out with no one [being] hurt..[where] we all feel that we won."


Wisdom for Future Generations


“Come in with an open mind. Don’t be opinionated. Be open to accepting others. Be objective. Be open to communicate with the kids, with the parents, with the staff. Try to incorporate other opinions. Be able to communicate and discuss things.”

One Key to Longevity


“Get up every morning and come to work. You enjoy what you do and it’s fun. I enjoyed coming to work. I enjoyed what I do. I tried to do a good day's work. I can’t imagine 34 years, it just doesn't seem that long.


How She Wants to Be Remembered


“As a person who worked hard to do whatever was needed to be done at the time. Be it taking out the garbage. Be it holding a kid that got hurt. Being comforting and compassionate. And the fact that I tried. I tried”.


Passing the Torch


For Shirley Davis, her career with PACCC has come full circle. Her former years as director of Hoover Kids’ Club and latter years as assistant director at Hoover Kids’ Club. For educators like Shirley their impact never ends, whether it’s former students Shirley runs into at the supermarket or educators who have worked alongside Shirley. Jill Hom is one of those educators who Shirley helped as she transitioned to director at HKC. Jill shares Shirley’s influence on her own child care career, “Shirley genuinely cares for every child that has crossed her path, which is something the kids have kept with them even after leaving the program. I’ve learned [from Shirley] how to maintain a positive attitude even on the rough days.Shirley’s tireless dedication to serving families in Palo Alto is truly inspiring, which I hope to emulate after she leaves.”


Thanks for inspiring us Shirley!

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