BY BRIAN BUTLER
SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
As the old proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” When it comes to the future of tomorrow’s leaders, I strongly believe the solution to true, lasting educational transformation involves the creation of genuine relationships between our educators and local business leaders.
There are endless opportunities for experienced senior executives to provide knowledge and resources that in turn become key to the success of our students and their families. When schools experience support, the outcomes are overwhelmingly positive–students graduate from high school ready for post-secondary education, careers, and life–resulting in a more prepared workforce.
I’m grateful my local peers share this same passion and vision and on Feb. 19, we will participate in the innovative, educational program—CEOs in Schools. For the second time, nearly 160 Tampa Bay area senior executives will volunteer for an entire day at a County public elementary school.
We plan to eagerly and enthusiastically jump into the experience of our educators and students for authentic day-in-the-life participation. Our days may look slightly different given each school’s individual needs and goals.
CEOs will roll up their sleeves and do everything from greet students in the morning, attend budget meetings, teach classes, and much more! And because safety is of top priority, participants will adhere to mandated COVID-19 safety measures that include the use of masks and social distancing. If preferred, CEOs are permitted to volunteer virtually.
THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT
To date, I’ve heard countless stories of the renewed respect for our public school educators and the desire to dig in and offer real-life, tangible support. After the inaugural event, I received calls from multiple CEOs telling me how their experience challenged them to refocus their personal and business goals.
Although they knew our sometimes-unsung heroes were tasked with a lot day to day, it really hit home for one CEO when he witnessed a principal single-handedly juggle multiple roles, from acting as a CFO to handle a budget issue, to quickly shifting gears to manage a timely parent concern, and even ensuring basic hygiene needs with a social worker– all before 11 a.m.!
Many leaders left the day happily exhausted and excited about the future to help give back.
As I reflect on the impact of this important event, I am reminded of the inspiration behind it. I was the CEO mentor to a former principal at Mort Elementary School through the Council for Educational Change’s PASS (Partnership to Advance School Success) program.
The experience ignited a desire to challenge fellow CEOs to get involved and spend a day in our local public elementary schools. Today, the entire Vistra Communications team regularly volunteers, hosts student leaders at the company headquarters, sponsors teacher appreciation events, and supports other school initiatives.
CEOs in Schools would not be possible without the support of our partners, Hillsborough Education Foundation and Hillsborough County Public Schools. I look forward to this annual event with hope and anticipation of the long-term influence it will have on our community for generations to come.
CEOs, how are you contributing to your local neighborhood and beyond? Remember, it takes a village, and together we can make a difference! Join the movement and learn more at OneDayOfChange.org.
Brian Butler is president and CEO of Vistra Communications and founder of CEOs in Schools.