Jameis Winston unveils ‘Dream Room’ full of technology at Alexander Elementary

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, right, and fourth-grader Suraisys Triana, 9, play an educational game on a tablet during the unveiling of the Jameis Winston Dream Room at Alexander Elementary School in Tampa. (Alessandra Da Pra, Times)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, right, and fourth-grader Suraisys Triana, 9, play an educational game on a tablet during the unveiling of the Jameis Winston Dream Room at Alexander Elementary School in Tampa. (Alessandra Da Pra, Times)
Published April 3 2018
Updated April 3 2018

Football and education have been the pursuits of Jameis Winston's life and career.

So it's not surprising he chose to use his popularity and platform as the Bucs quarterback to help underprivileged students chase their dreams.

On Tuesday morning, Winston unveiled his first "Dream Room," a technology center at Alexander Elementary School in Tampa.

It's the first big investment by Winston's Dream Forever Foundation, which really began with its first fundraiser last October.

A converted classroom — with Winston's larger-than-life image painted on a wall — is now home to a learning center that includes a table full of iPad computers, numerous electronics, software, 3D printers, robotics and other materials to make ideas come to life.

"It was amazing to see all the iPads, to see the 3D projector," Winston said. "This projector is a better projector than I have in my quarterback room. It's amazing just to see the outcome.

"To  find out some of these kids don't have Wi-Fi at home, they don't have the iPads and the data speed that they're getting in this room, I was like, 'Okay, these kids need to be on a level playing field with the rest of the kids in the world,' " Winston said Tuesday.

"Being able to give them these up-to-date resources, to give them a space to come in, it kind of leveled the playing field out and that's very important to me."

Alexander Elementary is a Title I school with a large percentage of students from low-income families.   On Tuesday morning, all students formed a line outside their classrooms to give Winston a high-five as he made his way through several corridors on his way to the "Dream Room".

There, he interacted with students on iPads and helped them produce some 3D images on the printer.

"My best piece of advice to these kids is to never place limitations on yourself," Winston said. "So many times today, everyone is saying, 'I can't' do something. Well, we want to change 'I can't' to 'I can and I will.' "

Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins thanked Winston for his donation and service to education.

"He's left an amazing room," Eakins said. "We're extremely grateful, extremely blessed to have you in our community, Jameis. We know we can't do it alone. We need all the help we can to serve the needs of all our students across Hillsborough County.

"But we're very grateful you've chosen our students to bless with this room and give them an opportunity to experience technology and have a cool place to come each day and spend enjoying learning."

Alexander Elementary School students use a variety of technological tools, such as tablets, in the new Jameis Winston Dream Room. (Alessandra Da Pra, Times)
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