SWFL principal, student share bond through experience with hair loss
A principal and a student share a special bond, as they navigate the challenges of hair loss together.
Principal Jessica Davis of Poinciana Elementary School in Collier County is experiencing hair loss from breast cancer treatment, and one of her students, Spencer Manix, is losing hair due to alopecia.
They spoke to us about what’s inspiring them and how they’re helping each other get through it.
When Davis found out she had cancer, she thought of her kids, all 646 of them.
“I told my students from the start that Miss Davis was going to be taking some medicine that was going to make her hair fall out, but that was ok,” Davis said. “Everything was going to be fine.”
And Manix, who is 6 years old, wasn’t scared either.
“I actually thought she was doing it to look like me, so I was not the only one,” Manix said.
Spencer is in the first grade at Poinciana Elementary. Together, he and Davis are coping with hair loss, hers from chemo, his from alopecia.
Manix’s mom told us it’s tough at times.
“There were looks; there were instances that were really uncomfortable,” said Tammy Layne, Manix’s mom.
In this case, Davis said she is the one doing the learning when she spoke about her bond with her student.
“That determination, that zest for life, that unending desire, that grit to make every day the best day,’ Davis said.
Davis has been working from home during her treatment and due to the pandemic. She said it has been an isolating time, but she has never felt alone. Her school has supported her to no end and found ways to incorporate her into virtual classes as she underwent the bulk of her treatment.
Davis says Manix taught her to hold her head high and accept the “looks” she gets.
“Right off the bat, it’s so often you get the sad eyes as you walk down the street,” Davis said. “You get the eyes that they feel heartbroken that you’re going through something. But, here, we could walk tall. Here, we could look each other in the eyes and high five and hello and great learning going on. And it was just like normal.”
So Davis and Manix share hats and stories. Layne says her son is learning new lessons too.
“There are so many things that we don’t have control over,” Layne said. “But what we do have control over is that we can be kind to each other, and we can be supportive of each other.”