By: Juan Lin Chow (284)
With the recent departure of Central’s 14th President Timothy J. McKenna, who led faculty and students for ten years, Central is under the leadership of interim president Jeff Petty. Beginning July 1, 2022, thirty-four year old Katherine Davis will be Central’s new President. Selected by Superintendent William Hite and a committee of distinguished individuals, Davis will be the first woman and person of color serving as president of the second oldest public high school in the country. Being a significant figure during times of change and striving for equity and diversity, Davis said during an interview with Chalkbeat that “when I think about what it means for me to be in this role, it feels surreal.” She emphasizes the importance of her soon-to-be role as the President of this historic institution as an unreal opportunity. This leadership position means a lot to her, more than others can imagine. Graduating with Central’s own 264th class, Davis went on to attend Cornell University, majoring in veterinary science to study animals. Her path to Central President was a matter of inspiration; Davis once aspired to be a veterinarian until an opportune internship in New York observing a teacher with years of experience changed her perspective on her pursuits. After she graduated in 2009 minoring in education, she taught in different parts of New York for several years before moving back to Philadelphia to become the principal of Charles W. Henry Elementary School.
Now, Ms. Davis is the soon-to-be President of one of the biggest public high schools in Philly, something to be proud of. When asked about her time at Central, Ms. Davis reflects in a Chalkbeat article, “I felt accepted, I felt I truly belonged there. It was a safe space for me. I remember the vibrancy of the Black Student Union, and the initiatives of the cultural groups, and how important that is for young people.” To Ms. Davis, Central is a place where diversity is an important pillar of Central that makes it stand out from other schools. With continued movements for racial equity among different demographics, Davis is confident that she’ll be able to continue the work of maintaining and improving Central’s diversity profile. She’s known for her leadership abilities, including her love and passion for teaching and interacting with students. Excited to become the 15th President, Davis keeps the students of Central High School waiting in anticipation for her arrival. With her inspiring story, her years of experience leading others, and her dedication to bring about change, she is sure to be one who makes Central history!