Hundreds of CEOs spend a day at Hillsborough public schools

Derrick Blue greets students at Potter Elementary School in Tampa.


Nearly 180 Tampa Bay area CEOs volunteered for an entire day on Oct. 18 at Hillsborough County public elementary schools. 

The new educational initiative, CEOs in Schools, is a Vistra Communications (Vistra)-spurred ambition designed to inspire youth. Vistra is a Tampa Bay-based public relations and marketing agency. 

Working in partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools, business leaders spent the day at a school watching, listening and engaging with students, teachers, principals and other school staffers.

CEOs left business operations and strategic communications aside for the day, directing their undivided attention toward participation, greeting students with smiles and firm handshakes in the morning, digging into curriculum and youth activity planning meetings after that, and rolling up their business sleeves to serve lunches—and even teach classes. 

‘Valuable partnerships’ 

The CEOs in Schools initiative is the brainchild of Vistra President and CEO Brian Butler. The idea was ignited after he became a CEO mentor to Woodland Johnson while he was a principal at Mort Elementary School in Tampa. 

“We hope CEOs in Schools will further engage the community with our schools by helping community leaders understand and embrace the daily operations, while benefiting our students and staff with these valuable partnerships,” said Hillsborough Country Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins. 

Derrick Blue, CEO of Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan (THAP), said the day reminded him of how much the community should value educators and the teams that support them. 

“CEOs in Schools was created to remind people of the importance of giving back to the community,” he commented after spending the day at Potter Elementary School with Principal Sharon Waite. 

Bemetra Simmons, managing director of Mutual of Omaha Bank, spent the day with Pizzo Elementary/Middle School Principal Amber Cronin. 

“Today’s educators are tasked with so much more than making sure that students learn their academics. CEOs in Schools is designed to allow CEOs to truly see the ins and outs of schools and what all is required to teach students every day,’’ Simmons said. “I am excited about the future and also anxious to help give back from a business standpoint.’’



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