MATTESON, Ill. — She believes every child has the right to learn and dream big.   

An educator for more than five decades, Matteson School Superintendent Dr. Blondean Davis has developed a strategy that has led thousands of students on to successful careers and has garnered her numerous awards.

Davis has dedicated her life’s work to educating and preparing children for their future.

“I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and I’m doing it now. It is the dream. I’m living the dream,” she said. “I believe there is nothing that they can’t do. And they are not going to convince me of the fact that they are not able to do it.”

She leads by example. Born and raised in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, Davis graduated high school at age 16.  She earned a doctorate in education from Loyola University and rose through the ranks at Chicago Public Schools, first as a teacher and eventually as the chief of schools and regions.  

“Everything I know about education, I really learned in Chicago, but I brought it here to the suburbs,” she said.

In 2002, Davis was named superintendent of Matteson Elementary School District 162. With a predominately African American student body, Davis had visions of creating a college prep high school.  In 2010 she founded the Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park.  

With a fierce focus on academics, the school has had much success. Since its inception southland has had a 100% graduation rate and more than $300 million in scholarships offered to students. 

It is all part of Davis’s belief that preparing children for the future is a lifelong process. 

“Until we educate the whole child, until we are responsible for educating this child from age 3 years of age until 18, I don’t think our job is done,” she said.

But for those who attend Southland it more than academics at the root of the schools success, it is the genuine interest and encouragement that Davis displays to her students

Davis is now on a new mission to create a prototype of the schools model for success and share with other educators.  

Davis is also one of the honorees to be acknowledged by the Illinois Black Hall of Fame at this weekend’s Juneteenth celebration.