TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott wrapped up a weeklong Teacher Pay Raise Pep Rally Tour with a visit Friday to Alexander Elementary School.
Serenaded by the Pierce Middle School band, Scott encouraged students at the Town 'N Country elementary school to strive to be governor one day.
They can meet heads of state and order pizza whenever they want to, he joked. "But you have to study really hard to get there."
Then he walked them through a quick civics lesson, explaining how he worked with the Legislature to get $480 million for teachers' raises.
Hillsborough schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia told the crowd that Scott never fails to take her phone calls, while Scott said, "your superintendent makes things happen."
The raises did not happen without controversy. Critics called the move political, as Scott will need state workers' support as he heads into his re-election campaign. And what was at first intended as an across-the-board $2,500 bump will now vary based on local school board decisions, collective bargaining and evaluation scores.
At Alexander — an A-rated school despite large percentages of lower-income and minority students — the mood was celebratory on Friday, which also marked the end of Teacher Appreciation Week.
Students Nicolas Sequeira, 9, and Ashley Ojeda, 11, took to the stage to describe the instruction at Alexander and the importance of teachers.
Said Nicolas: "No matter what age, each and every one of us can recall one special teacher who touched our lives and changed us forever."