My name is Mya Artzi and I am an alumnus of the Davis Academy. I went to Davis from Mechina until 8th grade. I graduated 2 years ago and am now a sophomore at North Springs. There is no better feeling then walking into the double doors of the Davis Academy. Passing Ms. Janis or Mrs. Dubovsky feels like coming home. Then walking through the familiar hallways and seeing the artwork of hardworking students brings me back to the feeling of pride I had seeing my own artwork up on the walls. The faces of teachers who shaped me into the person I am today brings me joy and gratitude to be able to have a place like Davis to call my home.
This week’s Torah portion is called Lech L’cha. In this portion, God says to Abraham, “Go forth from your land, your birthplace, your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” God makes a covenenant with Abram, who later becomes Abraham, and all the Jewish people. God tells Abram that all his descendants will be known as the chosen people and explains that the sign of the covenant is the Brit Milah, which takes place on the eighth day following a male babies birth. God also instructs Abram to be a blessing.
Just as God prepared Abraham to leave his home, so has Davis prepared me and the hundreds of graduates, for the next stage of life. Leaving home was not easy. The years I spent at Davis hold some of my best memories, especially eighth grade. Every part of that year from the teachers and the friendships to the learning and the laughing, made an impact on me and contributed in the preparation for high school.
Leaving Davis was difficult for me, and I missed the everyday Jewish experiences. But, Davis prepared me to seek out these experiences in different places. I needed to fill this gap, and so, I began my search for a similar community. I had no idea that I would miss my Judaics class, Hebrew lessons, and weekly Kabbalat Shabbat so much, but Davis prepared me for how to find meaning in other places. It has taken me some time, but I finally feel like I am starting to gain the community again. I joined the confirmation class at Temple Sinai and look forward to Sunday morning bagels, Torah, and discussion with my fellow classmates, some of which are also Davis alum. Because of my background, I feel comfortable participating in a Jewish setting where I can express my opinions on various Jewish topics. However, I do not feel I have learned everything I could know about the Jewish religion, and therefore I am eager to learn more. One thing Davis has taught me is to always continue my Jewish learning and to be an activist in my community. I applied for and was chosen to be a part of the American Jewish Committees Leader’s For Tomorrow program, which is a program focusing on history and current topics in the Jewish world with an emphasis on support for Israel. Along with 25 teens from Atlanta, several of whom are also Davis alum, LFT meets monthly to have discussions on how to make a difference in this world.
Just as God instructs Abram to be a blessing in the world, so has Davis allowed my teachers to be a blessing in my life. Part of what makes Davis so special is the relationships made between the students and the teachers. I am a witness to this in two different ways: from my own perspective and the perspective of having my mom as a Davis 4th grade teacher. Those relationships and bonds made between my teachers and I helped motivate and inspire me even today. Mr. Barry and I shared a special bond unlike any other student-teacher duo. By the end of the school year, Mr. Barry was not only my teacher but someone I was able to rely on. Mr. Barry taught me way more than just American History. He taught me that I can overcome my stress. He believed in me which helped me believe in myself. He always said just the right thing to make me feel better. Along with Mr. Barry, a few other special teachers helped me learn a lot about myself. Mrs. Friedman, my 3rd grade teacher, made and continues to make a huge impact on me. She was my biggest motivator to work hard and convinced me to try my best in everything. She was the one who sparked my love for writing. Every time I see her, no matter if it is in school or not, she always makes sure to check up on me. Something she always says is that she is so proud of me. Being the emotional people we both are, you can see us both tearing up. It is always good to see her because she is a big reminder of the good memories I have from Davis, and motivates me even today. Another person who impacted me tremendously from my time at Davis and still today, is Ms. Edison, my teacher and coach. She was my assistant teacher in 2nd grade, my volleyball coach for 3 years and my soccer coach for 1. She always pushed me because she believed in me and knew I could do better. Only at Davis could someone impact me from such an early up until 8th grade. This is not part of the job description for a typical teacher, it’s just something Davis teachers do. Mr. Barry, Mrs. Friedman, Coach Edison, and many other teachers at Davis are blessings in my life, and something only the Davis Academy could bring me. What is special about Davis is what the teachers do so naturally; care for their student.
In Lech L’cha, God prepares Abram to leave his homeland by giving him instructions on how to lead a good life, and that is just what the Davis Academy has done for me. Davis will always be my home and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I will continue to take the lessons I learned and the people I met with me, as I grow.
Thank you very much!