Save Mr. Davenport

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Mr. Davenport has been a wonderful theatre instructor at Roosevelt High School for the last three years. If he loses his position, Roosevelt will have its fourth new theatre instructor in roughly five years; each transition weakening the morale of our department. But in Mr. Davenport, we have found strength and inspiration, which is why I'm asking for your help. He is losing his position due to budgetary reasons within Des Moines Public Schools, and alleged low course requests in Fine Arts across the district, as well as to fund other electives (cutting one elective entirely to fund others makes sense, right?). As a new father, he cannot afford to take a half-time position at Roosevelt for half of the pay and zero benefits. There was no full-time position offered to Mr. Davenport teaching what he is currently, half Theatre and half Social Studies. He has done wonderful work for our school and community with the Theatre department: putting on two musicals and four plays in the 2018/2019 school year alone, as well as winning the state championship for musical theater with IHSSA. He has become an invaluable mentor to Roosevelt students, as well as a critical part of the Des Moines community itself. Taking the little free time he has, he starred in productions at the Des Moines Community Playhouse such as Misery and Billy Elliot, proving his love and passion for the craft, and getting students first-hand learning opportunities with mini-internships on those productions. He has years of experience to pass on, and his teaching career should not be cut short. Mr. Davenport has inspired many students to be their best selves, and personally inspired me to stay in the department. Through theatre, I found community and confidence. I truly believe the opportunities I found in theatre allowed me some of my greatest life opportunities, including getting accepted into my dream college, Grinnell.

Why does Roosevelt continue to have higher turnover than any other DMPS high school? Why did more than 30+ staff choose to leave Roosevelt last year, and more than 20 the year before? Why are good teachers being forced out a Roosevelt when so many others are choosing to and have chosen to leave? Roosevelt has money in many different places. The funding needs to be re-allocated, but they are getting new staff members next year. There is money going to finding jobs in the building for after school coaches and hall monitors, but Mr. Davenport has provided a safe space just as valuable as any sport or hallway finally getting monitored—his classroom and the stage. He receives a small stipend for his directing work for a fall and spring production, outside of the classroom, but he offers at least triple the opportunities required of his head director contract voluntarily, often the first to arrive in the morning and most always the last staff member to leave at night, other than the custodians. Additionally, the department is 100% self-funded with zero dollars coming from the district or Roosevelt to pay for scripts, show rentals and performance royalties, props and costumes, cast meals, etc. Mr. Davenport even pulled the department out of a huge deficit left by his predecessor. The loss of Mr. Davenport will weaken a student body which under his leadership had been thriving: flourishing by forming relationships with the students and molding them into equity-focused community-centered adults with strong character, morality, and committed to social justice and creative free expression. So please help this department, and with it, our community, by signing below.