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Polk Co. art teacher teaches diversity with elaborate, decorative doors for Black History Month

Posted at 4:37 PM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 18:25:32-05

LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — One Polk County art teacher is taking her lessons to the next level.

Miss Chanique Davis is known for her elaborate and decorative doors in honor of Black History Month. In 2019, Davis and her 5th grade students' door went viral.

News outlets from all over the nation picked up her message about spreading the acceptance of natural hair in the black community.

Fast forward a year, and the Lake Alfred Elementary teacher is taking it up a notch.

“This year I wanted to show another part of the culture,” Davis said.

Instead of just one door, her class created two doors in honor of Black History Month.

The first, Davis says she wanted to teach students about protective hair styles African-American women use to keep their natural locks in good shape.

“The putting away of the natural hair with the addition of the extensions and so we had a really fun time doing the project doing the door. I wanted something to kind of match that feel so I wanted to do a graffiti kind of a look,” Davis calls this door her "Graffiti Queen."

Last year, her character’s hair was made of cotton, and as you take a closer look at 2020’s piece you can see the door was outfitted with actual hair extensions.

Davis tells ABC Action News she is also a licensed hair braider, on top of being a full-time art teacher and artist. So, instead of going out and buying brand new hair, she used leftovers clients had left behind.

After all of the attention for her door last year, Davis says she was expecting a following this time around. So she pulled double duty and created a second door.

The second door is celebrating an actor, Tyler Perry, and his most recent accomplishment of opening a brand new film studio.

On the door his famous character, Madea, greets students on the front.

“All of the kids, all the staff they know about Madea so when I put Madea on the door I mean it was just like stopping traffic. Everyone was so excited about it,” Davis said.

However, what lies in between the two art displays may have an even more profound impact on students, teachers and the online community.

“I want my kids to take away the appreciation of diversity,” Davis said.

Davis says since it’s Black History Month, she wanted to show every shade a black woman or man may be.

Whether they are light or dark-skinned, or even have a mixture of tones like those born with Vitiligo.

One of six art displays created by her 5th graders shows a woman with both light and dark pigment.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Vitiligo causes the loss of skin color in blotches.

“Vitiligo affects people of all skin types, but it may be more noticeable in people with darker skin. The condition is not life-threatening or contagious. It can be stressful or make you feel bad about yourself,” The Mayo Clinic states online.

The other portraits show different hair styles like curly, braided, dreads or even a mo-hawk.

We asked students what they see when they look at the display.

“That they are really special and can do anything if they put their minds to it,” said Amya Gardner, a 5th grader who helped create the portraits.

A 10-year-old girl who also helped with the artwork said she feels each woman in the display is unique.

“What I always see is people having two different kinds of skin tones when they are black, and for me I think that’s really unique how they have it,” Valeria Sanchez said.

For Miss Chanique Davis, not only the doors, but her classroom time is precious. She says she uses the time she has to form young minds, hoping they become appreciative and tolerant adults one day.

“I feel really excited and really blessed to teach what I love,” said Davis.