Commentary: Calling business leaders to commit to young learners, teachers

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -- Nelson Mandela. 

These words ring especially true as our society reflects on the integral role our educators play in shaping and positively influencing our children. This entire year has thrust our society into uncertainty and angst; our school systems are no different.
From social distancing to distance learning, our educators have adjusted and worked tirelessly to ensure students have high-quality education amidst the most inauspicious circumstances. These incredible educators have not only continued to provide a nurturing and safe learning environment for our children. They have also helped students deal with multiple stressors including social unrest, mental health, and economic uncertainty.
This unprecedented moment is an ideal time to show gratitude and lend unwavering assistance to those in public education. Right now, local business leaders and community members can stand up and assist those who are making a difference for our children by volunteering time and knowledge. Our teachers, staff, and administrators in public schools need community support and encouragement now more than ever.

To offer support during this critical time, Hillsborough Education Foundation in partnership with Vistra Communications (Vistra) and Hillsborough County Public Schools invites Tampa Bay Area senior executives with a passion for supporting youth to sign up to volunteer for an entire day at a Hillsborough County public elementary school. This volunteerism is part of the educational and innovative program CEOs in Schools.

On Feb. 19, 2021, nearly 170 leaders will get a front-row seat to the educational process by joining a local principal to see what schools and administrators experience every day. CEOs will gain a fresh perspective on the vital role our schools play in preparing young people for success in the 21st century.

During the inaugural event in 2019, more than 180 leaders participated, positively impacting schools and thousands of staff, students, and families. The CEOs stepped away from their desks, directing their undivided attention toward greeting students with smiles and firm handshakes, digging into curriculum and youth activity planning meetings, and even rolling up their sleeves to serve lunches. Business leaders provide knowledge, innovative ideas, and resources that are key to the success of our school families.

In addition, students benefit from meeting positive role models and learning more about what the future can be for them. Brian Butler, President and CEO of Vistra, founded the program in 2019 to encourage business leaders to address challenges and make an impact in our schools. To date, these newly forged relationships have inspired many CEOs to continue to find creative ways to give back to their local school communities providing invaluable support to community leaders and schools.

We invite all business leaders to express their gratitude to those who contribute so selflessly to public education by signing up for the CEOs in Schools program at 1DayofChange. Together, we can make a difference!

This Commentary was written by Kim Jowell, CEO of the Hillsborough Education Foundation; Brian Butler, President and CEO of Vistra; and Addison Davis, Superintendent of Schools for Hillsborough County Public Schools.

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