A well-known community activist and business leader is credited with bringing change to a South Florida elementary school in need. T. Willard Fair, CEO and President of Miami’s Urban League, closely works with students and staff to help shape their future.
“He believes in us a lot,” said Jazlyn Alvarez.
The 10-year-old along with her classmate Elijah Murena said they are delighted when Fair visits their 5th grade class throughout the week.
“He’s like a grandpa to me. He makes me feel comfortable,” said Murena.
Fair visits the students in effort to mentor and encourage them. He says he is concerned about every child in Liberty City. That’s why he partnered with the Council for Educational Change to help pour resources into the schools in the neighborhood.
“If I had a magic wand, every child will be just like me,” Fair explained. “They would understand that there’s nothing that they cannot do that they set their minds to.”
He donated $100,000 to the school and the Council for Educational Change matched it.
The students’ teacher, Amber Hayward, says she’s grateful for the energy and monetary support Fair and the council have provided. She says she noticed the impact Fair has made on her students.
“He loves them. He encourages them. He encourages me,” Hayward said. “I don’t know if Mr. Fair understands how much he means to these children and how much he means to me.”
Elaine Liftin is the Executive Director for the Council for Educational Change. She has worked with Fair for many years before this partnership. She says Fair’s commitment will leave a lasting legacy.
“He worked with the principal to develop a 3-year business plan for how to improve the academic performance of the school,” said Liftin. “Clearly you can see that it’s not 'I’m doing it in theory', but he does it in practice.”
The school’s principal, Adrian Rogers, says Fair’s partnership with the council has helped the now-C school to not only improve academically, but in other areas.
“With the partnership, it has allowed me to provide resources, not only tangible resources but different types of emotional and social resources that we need to help the children,” said Principal Rogers.
Fair and the council hope to expand their resources to other schools in the Liberty City area.
“I’m glad to know that I’m having some impact but I’m hoping that other men in my community will give their time and their money to do the same thing,” Fair said.