Leader at rural Beach school retires, but his work continues

he is principal. Below right, Davenport speaks with Lilly West, a former Creeds Elementary student who now teaches at the school. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]
Robin Davenport, who has served the city schools for four decades, visits a classroom at Creeds Elementary School, where he is principal. He attended the school when he was a boy growing up in Blackwater. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

CREEDS — With a quick smile that makes his eyes twinkle, it is obvious Robin Davenport loves the job he will soon leave behind. 

Davenport, 63, has served as principal at Creeds Elementary School for 19 years, but that long and successful chapter of his life is coming to a close. He retires in June.

Would he have done anything differently?

“No,” he said, without hesitation. “I’m happy with the way everything’s turned out.”

Davenport – or, to Creeds families, “Mr. D” – has entertained the difficult decision to retire since 2008, but he knows it is the right time now. He is ready to do something else, but he is hardly leaving the community behind. 

Davenport wants to become even more involved with the Creeds Ruritan Club, a local chapter of the community service organization that has 30,000 members across the U.S. He will do this as a newly elected director of the Association of Virginia Ruritans.

Davenport aims to become national president by the time he is 70.

Service to young people won his heart over the course of his career. It started in 1974 at Woodstock Elementary School, where he taught third and fourth graders. He estimated that he has worked with 50,000 children through teaching, the Ruritans and 4-H. 

“My passion has always been with the kids,” Davenport said. “I have never regretted my decision to become a teacher or an administrator. I did what I did because that was where I thought I could make the greatest difference.”

Davenport has lived and taught in Virginia Beach for the last 41 years, and he has watched many of his students grow up and become contributing members of the community. He has followed their careers through middle and high school. He has been delighted to see many of them pursue a college degree.

Some even returned to Virginia Beach to teach.

“That’s when you know you have made an impact,” he said, breaking into a huge smile.

As society has changed, some of the biggest challenges he has faced deal with communication. In the past, he might pick up the phone to call a parent for assistance in dealing with a child. If they wouldn’t help, he didn’t hesitate to call the grandparents to fill the gap. He said educating a child is a community responsibility.

“It takes a village to educate our children,” Davenport said, “and it works.”

Sally Holloman, with the Office of Programs for Exceptional Children in the City of Virginia Beach, has known Davenport since the early ’70s, when he taught her children at Woodstock Elementary. 

“We watched each other grow up,” Holloman said. “He has always been a man of integrity. He definitely has his heart in education and wants the best for both the students and the parents.”

The school plans a farewell send off where the community can come as say goodbye said Robin Lee, a school secretary.

“This will be the end of an era,” said Lee. “It is bittersweet for us, but he deserves a great retirement.”

Celebrations of Davenport’s career will be held in June. 

With free time approaching, Davenport hopes to spend most of his time relaxing in the home he built on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

He does not plan on doing anything for the first month but walk the beach, sit on his deck with a cup of coffee and enjoy the ocean.

“I plan on taking pleasure in this next chapter of my life,” Davenport said. “I may not be able to control everything, but I am going to enjoy it.”

Mr. D’s Honors

The General Assembly in February commended Davenport for “dedication and service to the children of Virginia Beach and the Commonwealth.” Davenport is the first Virginia Beach city schools alumnus to become administrator of the school he attended as a boy.

Further honors include:

School Bell Award, Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals

City Manager’s Award recognizing Quality of Service, City of Virginia Beach

Creeds Man of the Year

Strawberry Festival Mayor of Pungo

Creeds Elementary is a six-time winner of the Pearl School Award and a four-time winner of the Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence 

Source: Virginia House Joint Resolution No. 852

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