SOUTH TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneer Vincent Jackson had a message for students at three elementary schools.
“Getting an education and good grades was the most important thing I could do,” he told several hundred third-, fourth- and fifth-graders gathered recently on the covered court of Chiaramonte Elementary.
“We love sports and activities, but we got to take care of the things in the classroom,” said Jackson, who said he was a straight-A student and majored in business at the University of Northern Colorado .
This was one of three stops Oct. 8 for Jackson and an entourage, which also included Ballast Point and Tinker elementaries. Jackson’s group included two Bucs cheerleaders and the team’s mascot, Captain Fear. The assemblies kicked off a reading program, Salute to Reading, sponsored by Jackson’s foundation, Jackson in Action 83 Foundation.
The schools were chosen because the foundation supports military children and their families. Each has a high number of military families. Through the program, nine students, one student from each grade from each school, will be selected on a monthly basis for a meet and greet with Jackson at One Buc Place. At the end of the school year, wide receiver Jackson will invite all previously selected students and their families to a year-end celebration event.
Jackson also announced a children’s book he authored with his wife, Lindsey, who attended with their 9-week-old son, Carter. Called “Danny Deals With Deployment,” it is the first in a series of three books designed to help military families discuss issues surrounding the deployment of a parent.
Lindsey Jackson said, “This is all because of Vincent’s background. Both his parents were in the Army and I am a former teacher, so it fit together well.”
Vincent Jackson also distributed a copy of “Bo, America’s Commander in Leash” to each child. The book is about the adventures of Bo, the dog in the Obama household.
Chiaramonte Principal Marie Valenti said she was pleased that Jackson visited.
“When you have get someone who is a celebrity to talk to them about reading, it sinks in,” she said.