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One Florida teacher gets all his kids to graduate

CBS News

Alvin Davis

If you worry about the future of our kids, listen to the story of Miramar High School. Miramar was one of the worst schools in Florida, but in 10 years, with a new administration and dedicated teachers, it's now among the best. Leading the way is Alvin Davis, the band director, who is now a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.

CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts reports that Davis is more than the music teacher and band director. He's old-school, no-nonsense, and an inspiration.

"I see every report card. I see every interim, and if the grades aren't up to par, they're gonna take a break from being in my program," Davis said.

Davis' program was key to Miramar High's turn around. The band grew from 40 students to 150 and became the pride of the school. Ninety-percent of Miramar students graduate, but nobody beats the band. For four years in a row, 100 percent of the band has graduated and gone on to college. Davis said his kids would probably describe him as "rough."

"His number one priority and goal is to get all of us to college," said Sandra Romero, a member of the band.

Davis doesn't just get kids to college, he keeps them there. Andrew Wan is one of Davis' former students. Like Davis, Wan enrolled at Florida A&M University and joined the famous MARCHING 100 band. When college got tough Wan wanted out.

"He said it so simply: 'If you quit band now and you come back home, what are gonna do?'" Wan said.

After graduating from FAMU, he was standing in as band director at Miramar High while Alvin Davis is on leave and tours schools across Florida as the state's teacher of the year.

"When I look in the mirror I say, 'There's the American dream, raised on the drug and gang infested streets of the South Side of Chicago, and I'm one of four finalist for the National Teacher of the Year,'" Davis said.

Davis said that even more than being recognized as a Teacher of the Year finalist, being called "Daddy Davis" by some kids means more.

"I can tell you what touches my heart even more - when I get a kid who comes up four years after high school graduation: 'Mr. Davis, here's my college diploma,'" Davis said, his voice cracking.

Over the past 12 years teaching, Alvin Davis has shed plenty of tears because he's seen plenty of kids succeed.

The winner of the National Teacher of the Year will be announced later this month and honored by President Obama.

Florida Teacher Turns Falling School Around Video