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Thankful UC Alumna Follows in Prof’s Footsteps

Ever wonder where that one special teacher is now or wish that you had gone back to say 'thank you'? Some of us do — like Teresa Davis.

Date: 10/19/2008
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Dottie Stover, photojournalist
“When I finished my degree from Mt. St. Mary Athenaeum of Ohio, I had five people to thank,” Teresa Davis says. The first person was her mother.

It's just like old times for Teresa Davis and Prof. Tony York, poring over biblical literature.

One of the other lucky people was Anthony York, professor emeritus of English in the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences. “I could not have become what I have if not for him.”

After taking one course in biblical literature from Professor York, Teresa took “every one he offered,” she says. “He gave me a hunger.” Though Teresa was already intrigued and in love with biblical literature — through faith and analysis — it was Anthony York, she says, who gave her the tools that fueled the passion and helped plant the seed that blossomed into her current career as a high-school religion education teacher at Mt. Notre Dame High School.

“My first class with Dr. York was in the early 1990s. I was charmed by his style, easy-going, matter-of-fact and truly giving foundation to the crux of each book we were examining,” she says.

One of the things that she especially appreciated about York was his objectivity and the respect with which he taught the Bible.

York, Professor Emeritus from McMicken College
York, Professor Emeritus from McMicken College's Department of English, was also once the head of the Judaic Studies Department.

“You could never tell which church house he went into on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday,” she says. “He never infused his own beliefs.”

She recalled in particular one incident in which a young woman broke down in tears because she — a devout Christian — had never known that other religions also had a flood story as part of their beliefs.

“I was in my late 20s and the young woman I’m referring to was in her late teens,” Teresa says. “She had a meltdown during class. We were discussing the Moab Stone, Gilgamesh tablets and historic items that back up (Moab) writings in biblical literature and others (Gilgamesh) that have similar writings. She broke down saying that she had been ‘lied to’ and that her faith was not real. This crisis of faith was sparked by scholarship and history.”

“Professor York was so kind to her and said, ‘Let’s take a moment and consider what’s going on here,’” Teresa remembers. “He said, ‘Nothing I tell you in here should ever break your faith.’”

After that first class, Teresa was hooked.

“And from there, I took every class that he taught in Evening College,” she says. “Further, I would visit him prior to class time and gleaned as much of his thought process and knowledge that I could absorb.”

Teresa has learned from one of the best. She hopes to follow in his inspirational footsteps.
Teresa has learned from one of the best. She hopes to follow in his inspirational footsteps.

“He, along several other folks in my life, helped me get to a place and a career that I was meant to/wired to do. I have extreme passion about passing along the faith to teens and I actually like them!” Teresa says. “Dr. York is a noble and brilliant man and, in retirement, leaves a great legacy to the UC family.”

Teresa persevered at UC’s Evening College, earning a bachelor’s degree in humanities in 1993.

Then, after working in insurance for 20 years, Teresa found herself having a crisis of a different kind — she was laid off. So she turned to Mt. St. Mary Athenaeum — to fulfill her dream of being able to inspire people as she, herself was inspired. And now she is hitting the ground running, after losing a job and getting a job all within the same week.

“I lost my job on Tuesday and Mt. Notre Dame called me on Thursday!” she says, laughing. And on Oct. 19, 2008, she receives her master of arts of pastoral ministry.

Teresa calls this her
Teresa calls this her 'year of rebirth.'

“This is my first year of teaching and my rebirth at 43!” she says. So what does her mentor say, now that the student has become a teacher?

“Teresa would make a fantastic teacher!” says Professor Emeritus Anthony York. “She was always very enthusiastic about three things that are imperative to being a teacher: her subject, her students and her career. And she is curious, which is an essential ingredient of intelligence.”

Teresa reminds York how she would show up early to class as often as possible. “I wanted to get every bit of your time that I could,” she says.

Teresa is grateful for many things. She
Teresa is grateful for many things. She's especially grateful to UC and Professor Tony York.

He smiles at the memory. “She was always asking me, ‘What about this?’ and ‘What about that?’ It was very invigorating. She was a hard worker.”

“Do you like the students who argue?” Teresa asks Tony York.

“If respectful,” he says with a smile. “You can allow them to be ignorant, because they’re supposed to be — they’re students — you expect that. But if they’re disrespectful or if you have ignorance combined with arrogance, that’s insufferable.”

Now two people who were once teacher and student are teacher and teacher, but always students as well, always learning.

Got a Preschool through 12th Grade Teacher to Thank? December Graduates are invited to honor that unforgettable teacher: Nominations for the Cincinnati USA Outstanding Educator Award are open through Oct. 31.