All Saints’ Padric Davis
Entering the campus of All Saints-by-the-Sea Parish School was actually a homecoming of sorts for a variety of reasons, the most recent being that our granddaughter, now 10 and a big fifth grader, attended the Parish School as a toddler. Not that long ago she could be seen hopping around the playground laughing, playing, and learning in the nurturing atmosphere of the Parish School and its staff. Another memory that came to mind as I entered the church grounds, a remembrance from a Galaxy Far, Far Away was the image of Dr. George Hall (all 20 feet of him… at least that’s how tall he seemed at the time) standing at the alter pronouncing us Man and Wife!
As I opened the gate to the playground for a visit with All Saints’ Parish School Director Padric Davis, the little preschoolers were happily bouncing around on the playground in front of their classrooms exactly as they did just a few years ago. Davis met me at the entrance and escorted me into her office at the heart of the complex. It was obvious that this office was a busy place: the shelves were full of children’s books, personal photos and mementos, a couple of computer screens, sticky reminder notes, magnets, a few toys, and a desk with her current “to-do” paperwork. Certainly a busy, comfortable, and welcoming place. I felt right at home!
Once settled, Davis proudly confirmed the multiple generations of children the Parish School had served in over half a century. “The school opened its doors with a few rabbits, Guinea pigs, and twenty-nine kids,” she laughed. “Since Rev. Dr. George Hall’s 1965 request that a church school be formed, our Parish school’s been operating continuously since then.” Dr. Letty Lauffer, a parishioner, was the school’s original Director and her successor, Eva Smith, served for nearly 30 years. Davis has also been with the school for 30 years as both teacher and director. She added that most of the current staff members have also had long associations as both parents and teachers. “All our teachers here and a past student, the first alum to become a teacher, and most assistants are past parents who understand our mission to prepare our children academically, spiritually, and emotionally for a smooth transition to Kindergarten,” Davis revealed. “Each of our teachers carries an ECE credential and most credentials have been earned at our fabulous SBCC – the best program for working with young children ever!” She added, “We are truly a family here with so many connections.”
The Brady Bunch
A native of Los Angeles, the eldest of three children with a working dad and a stay-at-home mom, Davis grew up in Santa Monica. “Even when I was young I always wanted to be a mom… and also a teacher.” She attended local schools and after graduating from St. Monica’s Catholic High School, she attended UCLA and earned her Early Childhood Education credential. Marriage and the arrival of two sons came before her first teaching position at St. Mathews Parish School, an Episcopal school, in Pacific Palisades. The position at St. Matthews was ideal for Davis, now a single mom, to have the kind of hours that would allow her to be home for her boys. “St. Matthews was amazing,” recalled Davis, “and I stayed there as a teacher and eventually as the Assistant Director for a decade and a half… actually until we moved here to Santa Barbara.”
It was at St. Matthews she met her second husband, a single father with three kids about the same age as her own. “All of the kids wanted us to get married,” Davis recalled. “They pestered us constantly!” After dating for two years, Padric and John Davis finally tied the knot to the happiness and satisfaction of the entire crew. “We were like the ’70’s Brady Bunch,” Davis laughed, “we really were! We raised all five kids… and today are the proud grandparents of nine.”
In 1989, Davis and her husband made the move up the coast to Santa Barbara. Once settled, Davis applied for a substitute teaching position at All Saints’ Parish School. All Saints’ long-time director, Eva Smith, hired her as a full-time teacher immediately knowing Davis’ background as an administrator at St. Matthews, also an Episcopal school. “All Saints’ Parish School felt so comfortable to me, I felt right at home from the moment I entered the door, and that feeling has never changed.” Davis continued as a teacher until 2007 when Eva Smith retired, after which she was deemed the Interim Director, and then hired as the Director of the school. During Davis’ tenure the Bumble Bee program was added, extending the curriculum to very young children. This classroom was added to accommodate the newest group, beginning at two years old. She remained a teacher-director until 2014, after which she reluctantly gave up teaching to concentrate fully on administration.
Feeling Like Family
The present-day school provides early childhood education for children between the ages of two and five years, with 89 students enrolled in the 2019-20 program. The school is overseen by the All Saints-by-the-Sea Vestry and the Parish School Board, and is supported by an active Parent Council which raises funds to supplement the school’s educational programs. Five days a week classes are held from 9 am to 12:45 pm with an Extended Day class available Tuesday through Friday until 2:45 pm. Thanks to the families generously supporting the Parish School Scholarship Fund, children who might otherwise not been able to attend are enrolled.
“A defining aspect of the school,” noted Davis, “is the formation of lasting friendships as is the case with our teaching staff, but also by our students that often follow them through high school and beyond.” At graduations or other key events, children and parents will see friends and remember that they met at All Saints’ Parish School. Davis is proud of the family feeling and the nurturing environment that extends to the entire school community, which includes her staff as well as herself. “After a tragic personal loss of my own, the All Saints’ family became my support system and gave me the courage to move forward with gratitude and became my ‘happy place,'” she shared. “During times of crisis, whether in our community or personal, these experiences bind us together as a family.”
As our time together drew to a close, I asked Davis how she envisions the future for the All Saints’ Parish School. “My goal is to maintain the integrity of the school as envisioned by the founders, to provide not only a chance for a child to fly, but a safe, soft place to land when they fall short of their goals.” With a history of over 50 years in the Santa Barbara community and generations of children the Parish School remains true to the mission established by Dr. George Hall and is carried forth in the tradition with which it was established. Thank you to Padric Davis and her talented and committed staff… you’ve surely made the Parish School founders proud!