Nearly forty Hillsborough County Educational Leaders gave up a Monday evening with their families to listen to words of wisdom illustrated with historic examples such as George Washington, Bear Bryant, Winston Churchill and Reverend Martin Luther King from a man who has not only studied leadership, but has displayed it at the highest level of professional sports.
Tonight’s speaker was scheduled through the Empowering Principals in the Community, or EPIC speaker’s series. The series, in its second year, was born through a partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools and Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa.
Pat Williams, basketball Hall-of-Famer, co-founder and senior vice president of the Orlando Magic is one of America’s top motivational speakers. Williams has addressed Fortune 500 companies, universities, national associations and non-profits.
Williams, a self-admitted life-long learner, is a voracious reader as well as the author of 71 books. He shared seven qualities he has observed in leaders of excellence with the district leaders in attendance.
Without ever stepping foot on the court as a player, William’s leadership was instrumental in his teams making the playoffs 23 times, with appearances in five NBA Finals including his Philadelphia 76ers winning the championship in 1983. Williams also held manager positions with the Atlanta Hawks, and the Chicago Bulls before his tenure as the inaugural manager in Orlando.
Williams has worked with some of the National Basket Ball Association’s legendary players: Dr. J (Julius Irving), Charles Barkley, Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal. Not many in the room were aware Shaquille O’Neal finished his doctorate degree two years after his retirement from the National Basketball League graduating from Barry University in 2012.
Prior to becoming involved in professional basketball William was a catcher for the Demon Deacons baseball team at Wake Forest University, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies minor league team the Miami Marlins and later had a the Minnesota Twins organization.
“Some of the speakers command as much as $30,000 to speak to groups of company CEOs. Pat is a friend of mine and he believes in educators and what they are doing,” said Idlewild Senior Pastor Ken Whitten was in attendance tonight to introduce Williams.
He said Idlewild approached the school district about encouraging principals by hosting a luncheon or two and the district asked if we could provide some training for principals.
When approached by Idlewild, Tricia McManus brainstormed with her staff and decided to ask for a speaker’s series. “We wanted to give back to our school leaders. To celebrate our leaders and equip principals with leadership skills,” McManus said.
Last year’s speakers included the Director of the Florida Orchestra, an author, the Chaplin for a major-league baseball team, a Walt Disney Imagineer and a panel discussion including the Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools, the City of Tampa Mayor and Chief of Police and the president of the University of South Florida.
Whitten said has a lot of educators in his congregation. He has a master’s degree in education himself said he has the utmost respect for the character of our educators. “This is one of the most important things we can do as a church,” he proudly exclaimed.
This was Anthony Jones’, principal at Walker Middle Magnet School of International Studies, second year of attendance at the EPIC speaker’s series. Jones said, “I find the topics of leadership inspirational,” and pointed out that most of the speakers are not from an educational background and bring different viewpoints to district leaders.
McManus said it is not by accident that the speakers work in diverse areas, they purposely look to get the speakers to align to what initiatives the district is working on. She did not disclose what speakers will round out this year’s schedule but said, “The topics will always be about leadership. This year’s theme focuses on the capacity of our people to build up others,” she said.
McManus said these events are designed to inspire and motivate leaders, “We can take these pearls of wisdom, reflect as great leaders, and do things differently as soon as we walk out the door.
“Educators are not in it for financial gain. It’s a calling, a conviction for a better society investing their life into someone else’s life,” Whitten said. He pointed out his staff of volunteers who run the for the most part are retired educators. “I’m in the stands cheering them on’” he added.
The next EPIC event is scheduled for March 6 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Instructional Services Center. It will feature Fortune 500 veteran Jeff Ruby, founder and president of RED ROCK Leadership. Ruby has experience in starting and selling companies, sales and sales management, training and development, executive coaching, human resources, strategy, analysis and marketing.
If you are interested in attending, registration is available in the Professional Development System in First Class under course number 79456 or call Leadership Development at 813-272-4884.