Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Alumna Becomes Best-Selling Author


For Dr. Bonnie Davis, who was born and raised in Cape Girardeau, Mo., earning her bachelor’s degree in English from Southeast Missouri State University was only the beginning of what would transform her into a best-selling author.  She completed her master’s degree in English at the University of Mississippi, and a master’s degree in media/communication at Webster University.  She holds a doctorate degree in English from St. Louis University with an emphasis on the cultural context of the American Literary Canon.

Bonnie, who currently resides in Laguna Beach, Calif., is the author of the best-selling Corwin Press book, How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You: Culturally Relevant Teaching Strategies (2006). For the past decade, she has served as a consultant on culturally proficient instruction, literacy coaching, and writing across the content areas to schools, districts, and professional organizations across the country.  Bonnie’s book, How to Coach Teachers Who Don’t Think Like You: Using Literacy Strategies to Coach Across Content Areas, has been nominated by Corwin Press for the NSDC 2008 Book of the Year award.
For 30 years, Bonnie taught English in middle schools, high schools, universities, homeless shelters, and a men's prison.  She is the recipient of several awards, including two Teacher of the Year awards, The Missouri Governor's Award for Teaching Excellence, and The Anti-Defamation League’s World of Difference Community Service Award.
Bonnie’s publications include African-American Academic Achievement: Building a Classroom of Excellence (2001) and numerous articles on literacy and cultural instruction, such as A Cultural Safari, a National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Paul Farmer Writing Award runner-up winner.  She authored the cover article in the Missouri National Education Association’s (MNEA) publication, Something Better (winter, 2006).  She appears in The School Improvement Network’s video program, No Excuses! How to Increase Minority Student Achievement (2006), along with experts James Comer, Kati Haycock, Sonia Nieto, Beverly Tatum and others.  She is the co-author, along with award-winning author, Curtis Linton, of the workbook, No Excuses! How to Increase Minority Achievement.  Her latest book, focusing on multiracial students, is due out in 2009.
In addition to her writing, Bonnie spends her professional life coaching and presenting to educators.  Because she spent 30 years in the classroom, she considers herself first a teacher and she relates to educators in a lively, interactive manner.  When she presents, Bonnie is passionate, funny and energetic, modeling instructional and relationship strategies to "close the achievement gap" by improving instruction.  She has presented for the National Staff Development Council, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Education Association, National Council for Teachers of English, International Reading Association, and National Association of Multicultural Education, among others. 

In her free time Bonnie enjoys activities such as walking, yoga and pilates.  Although she misses walking by and looking at the Mississippi River, Bonnie says, “Laguna beach is a breathtakingly beautiful town, which abounds with mountains and canyons, all leading to the Pacific Ocean.  I am grateful each day for the opportunity to live here.” 
She also enjoys traveling, especially to Amsterdam, where she says she “loves the constant movement of the people; there is a rhythm of movement I find entrancing.”

“I have two children, Leah and Reeve, who have given me incredible joy and one granddaughter, Eva, who has brought new meaning to my life,” Bonnie says.

Bonnie says she chose Southeast because it “was a couple blocks from my home and affordable.  My favorite moments were the moments I spent in the classrooms learning from the outstanding teachers, such as Dr. John Bierk, Dr. Peter Hilty and Dr. Robert Hamblin.  If it weren’t for them, I would not be an author of five books today.  They made me feel smart and taught me to love literature.” 

Bonnie offers current students the following advice: “Follow your passion and your dreams.  Work hard.  Be kind to everyone, first because you should, but also because you never know who will be a future boss or contact for future work.  Make decisions carefully: decisions today affect your entire future.”