By: Stephanie Russell Krebs, Ph.D., The University of Tampa
My Leadership Tampa Education Day started like a typical day (just a tad earlier). I got up bright and early and went into my 8-year-old daughter’s room to kiss her goodbye. I looked into her eyes and told her I loved her as I wished her a great day at school. I then peeked into my 18-month-old son’s room as he slept and then left for Education Day. That morning I didn’t fully realize the true privilege of education my children will have in their lifetime, that other children, just as sweet and beautiful as mine, do not have readily available to them. By the end of that transformational day my perspective had changed.
Our day started at the Glazer Children’s Museum where we were given the opportunity to return to our childhood. We were reminded that kids need unstructured time to be creative and just play.
We were then shuttled to Blake High school and were entertained by the amazing talent of a student guitarist, a musical performance group, and a dance ensemble that made us feel like we were at a Broadway show. We were reminded how these intensive magnet programs truly save lives. These children find their passion and that passion drives their education.
Then we headed to Academy Prep, a true gem in Tampa Bay. Their school director reinforced that all students deserve a quality education regardless of their economic status or their zip code. We spent time with the children in their classrooms and also heard the angelic voices of their gospel choir. These children were eager to learn about our backgrounds and it was evident they were destined for greatness.
Next we traveled to the University of South Florida for an engaging panel of university presidents and the Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent. The lesson I took away from the panel was that collaboration and creating community in education is what is needed for true economic impact.
One of my favorite parts of the day was our lunch at Chamberlain High School where we dined at the Chamberlain Outback restaurant, courtesy of the talented students in the culinary arts program. This program, like the fine arts program at Blake, connects student with their passion, which significantly increases their likelihood for academic success.
Next we visited the training center at Hillsborough Community College and were introduced to another type of important education. We visited the mechanical workshop, the fire safety program, and the shooting simulation studio. It was apparent that education comes in many forms and our community needs them all.
The day concluded our day at my home away from home, The University of Tampa. A panel consisting of two millennial students and two employers discussed alignment between how students learn and how this translates to the workforce.
So from looking into the eyes of my children at the start of the day, the middle school students at Academy Prep, the high school students at Blake and Chamberlain, to the non-traditional students at HCC, to the millennial college students from UT and USF, one thing is apparent. All of these students are born with great potential, have a yearning to learn, and in the right environment will flourish. There are many of these impactful learning environments in the Tampa Bay area. My challenge to myself, to my LT classmates, and to the greater Tampa Bay area is: How can we individually and collectively make sure that all children are provided pathways to these learning environments? We must treat all of the children in our community like our own.