The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Quarterback Jameis Winston are committed to the education of youth, especially in underserved communities. It's fitting, then, that Winston is the new "Quarterback" of Buccaneers Academies; educational programing that provides state-of- the-art resources, enhanced curriculum, and hands-on participation from Buccaneers players and cheerleaders to 14,000 students at 24 elementary schools throughout Hillsborough County.
On Tuesday, November 15, Winston made his Buccaneers Academy "Quarterback" debut at Mort Elementary school where he surprised students with a classroom visit, pep rally, and participating in Play 60 drills during a Player Experience activity. Mort Elementary is located in a developing Tampa neighborhood where nearly 97% of students receive free and reduced lunch. Students at Mort elementary, however, are academically rising above their circumstances through additional educational resources and opportunities from Buccaneers Academy programing. Since participating in the Buccaneers Academy Reading Challenge from 2015 to 2016, students at Mort increased their time spent reading by 411%, which according to the U.S. Department of Education, can help students become better readers and achieve higher reading scores.
Mort Elementary's phenomenal reading effort makes them this year's Reading Challenge Champions, with the school's top reader being the only 2nd grader to win the top reading spot across all 24 Academies.
To celebrate these remarkable accomplishments Winston surprised Mort's top reader in their classroom with a trophy and personal message to the class about the importance of literacy and determination.
Woodland Johnson, Mort Elementary School Principal drove home that message of determination. "Academically we have to push students and expect the best from them, but we also have to create memories and opportunities for them to realize if they work hard they can achieve their goals," said Johnson.
Following his classroom visit, Winston treated all students to a pep rally under the school's large Buccaneers Academy shade cover "Fitness Zone". Students erupted with cheers and applause as Winston stepped out of the Bucs Street team RV to congratulate them on their reading success.
The experience didn't stop there as all students got the opportunity to tour the Bucs Street Team RV and 5th graders participated in the Buccaneers Academy Player Experience with Winston, including Play 60 drills and Quarterback Challenge stations.
"It is so important to inspire them to read more," said Winston. "Some children don't have people motivating them to do things such as reading, persevering, and being determined so anytime that I get a chance to talk to these kids I try."
It was a day of celebration as Winston praised students' accomplishments and delivered his unique and inspirational message of determination and hope. The Buccaneers, and Winston's dedication to helping youth reach their full academic potential makes him the perfect fit as the new "Quarterback" of Buccaneers Academies.