For over 40 years, Elizabeth M. Smith taught disadvantaged children in New York's Brentwood Public School District. She was recognized as an inspired teacher, innovative educator and visionary leader whose teaching philosophy incorporated interpersonal skills and adherence to core values into a student's educational experience. Mrs. Smith passed away in 1999.

Inspired by their grandmother's legacy and the effectiveness of her innovative teaching strategies, Thomas and Tammy Smith sought to honor her educational vision, values and philosophy. They enlisted the support of a group of community leaders committed to Mrs. Smith's educational mission to help establish the Smith Leadership Academy (the Academy).

Founded in 2003, the Smith Leadership Academy honored Mrs. Smith's legacy by espousing her educational philosophies. In June 2010, the Academy celebrated its first class of graduates receiving their high school diplomas and moving on to college, taking with them the school's philosophy of character development, leadership and community citizenship.

In the summer of 2014, the Academy changed its name to Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy in honor of a leader from the community of Boston.  

The Academy serves over 200 of Boston's inner-city youth, many of whom have been underserved and marginalized in the past, and develops them into high-achieving students of good character who use problem-solving, communication and interpersonal skills to inspire others.


The mission of Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy Charter Public School is to develop high-achieving students of good character who use problem solving, communication and interpersonal skills to inspire others and to catalyze educational, economic and political advancement within their communities and the broader nation.

The Academy's educators and administrators, with the support of volunteers, help cultivate impeccable student character by modeling and demonstrating seven core values - thought leadership, personal excellence, intellectual curiosity, integrity, respect, compassion and community citizenship. These core values foster a cohesive and collective sense of purpose and a safe, orderly environment where learning and character development take precedence.


The vision of Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy is to become a 5-8 middle school and 9-12 high school where the students will develop a thirst for academic knowledge along with a commitment to ethical principles that allows them to not only attend, but graduate from a high-performing college of their choice, and eventually, to achieve their full potential as citizens in their own and global communities.

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