You are viewing Vol. 11 Issue 5 May 2019

Chauncey’s Champion Someone making a difference.

Thinking big and shining bright, Emma Savage-Davis impacts CCU community

by Connor Uptegrove Bookmark and Share
Emma Savage-Davis, professor of education and chair of graduate and specialty studies.
Emma Savage-Davis, professor of education and chair of graduate and specialty studies.

Emma Savage-Davis, professor of education and chair of the department of graduate and specialty studies at Coastal Carolina University, has a poster hanging on a wall in her office. The art only has four words, but they embody her philosophy in the paradoxical world of teaching future teachers to teach.

“Think big. Shine bright.”

After 13 years of service to CCU, the words remind Savage-Davis of not only her purpose, but the purpose of her students. She seeks to plant the seed that every child has potential. When her students here at CCU have classrooms of their own in the future, they’ll remember that lesson, despite whatever hardships come their way.

“Every student is a puzzle,” said Savage-Davis. “No two puzzles are alike, and it’s our job to keep trying pieces.”

She carries a relentless belief that there is a solution to every challenge, even when the puzzles become complex. Despite the possible hardships, her mindset always stays positive.

“I like to say that each is a puzzle of a field of daisies,” said Savage-Davis.

She brings her experiences of teaching and puzzle metaphors into the classroom to show CCU education students that they are learning skills for a much bigger objective beyond Coastal Carolina University.

“When you find what works with a student and the pieces fit,” said Savage-Davis, “that enlightenment is much more rewarding than any diploma.”

Savage-Davis has experienced this for more than a decade at CCU. Before her time in South Carolina, she taught public school in Chicago in the same area where she grew up. This is where she learned the steps for positively supporting students.

“It’s about empowering them,” said Savage Davis. “I want them to see the richness in themselves." 

Savage-Davis’ daughter lives nearby in Charleston and she frequently enjoys taking visit to see her. When she isn’t visiting with her family, she takes daily steps to brighten the lives of her CCU colleagues.

James Davis, associate professor of graduate and specialty studies, nominated Savage-Davis for Chauncey’s Champion because he believes her reliability and empathy make her an effective leader for their department.

“When I first came to CCU, she promised to always serve as my advocate and have my best interest at heart,” said Davis. “I feel that she has held true to that promise time and time again.”

Davis also compliments how her unique qualities influence the relationships she has with her colleagues.

“She is a quality chairperson, remains trustworthy and consistently provides accurate information,” said Davis. “In terms of empathy, she is a caring and understanding leader, for students as well as faculty members.”

Savage-Davis is familiar with the Chauncey’s Champion column and notices the phrase in italics above each story that labels the award as “someone making a difference.” However, she insists that her services to CCU are the routine for every individual that’s a part of Teal Nation.

“I’m not trying to make an impact,” said Savage-Davis. “It’s about the students.”

As she spreads the recognition across campus, it becomes clear that humility is just one more positive attribute that defines Savage-Davis.

Despite her persistence to credit others and the community as a whole, Savage-Davis still seems to think a little bigger; she seems to shine a bit brighter.

She shines bright when she sends a fruit bouquet to the daughters of Davis after the family lost their home in a house fire. She thinks bigger as she continues to teach courses, coordinate the middle level education program and hold a department chair position.

“She has coached me, offered me encouraging words and fully supported me with my role,” said Davis.

For future teachers, her advice is simple and crucial to the combination of thinking big and shining bright.

“Don’t lose sight of your original intent,” said Savage-Davis. “If you can hold onto that, you can persevere through all kinds of storms.”

Chauncey’s Service Excellence Champions are University employees (faculty or staff) who perform service-oriented actions that go above and beyond their job duties and that meet at least one dimension of service quality. These employees are recognized for outstanding performance and embody the Feel the Teal initiative. To nominate someone for Chauncey’s Champion, visit, fill out the form and submit it. Approved nominees will receive an exclusive Chauncey’s Champion gift as well as consideration for additional recognition. View all the Chauncey’s Champions here

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Emma Savage-Davis, professor of education and chair of graduate and specialty studies.
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