Just a day after for President George W. Bush made a surprise appearance at the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award Dinner, his brother Jeb charmed and charged up about 300 guests. Surprise! He wasn’t talking politics or trying to raise funds for a run.
The September 25 dinner chaired by Lydia and Dan Novakov for more than 280 was to kick off the Salesmanship Club of Dallas’s Youth and Family Centers’ Changing Odds program and its two-day conference, which was expected to have 800 attendees from 80 cities and 17 states.
Taking place at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, no one could resist observing the 360-degree, high-definition video wall high top the Center’s Freedom Hall. Even Jeb had to look up at the amazing panoramic shots of West Texas and people in between breaks during the meet-and-greet with guests. From crouching down to chat with Joel Williams Jr. in his wheelchair to cutting up with others guests, he endeared himself to all. Why, even the late Gov. Ann Richards would have probably enjoyed his company.
During the reception the snapshots of folks included DISD Superintendent Mike Miles asking about the Salesmanship’s Byron Nelson Championship signature red pants. A club member told Miles about the time that former Mayor Ron Kirk was headed to the Bryon Nelson Golf Tournament saying, “Where else do you see 500 white guys in red pants?”. . . Marianne and Roger Staubach were showing photos of the newest member of the Staubach clan — a great-grandson. . . . Communities Foundation of Texas’ Brent Christopher attributed the recent North Texas Giving Day success to leveraging the power of social media and having the nonprofits vigorously participate. . . Lee Ann White was with son Michael Fowler. Husband Alan was busy integrating all the South Texas banks that PlainsCpaital just picked up when Jerry Ford acquired Edinburg-based First National Bank. . . Jim Turner was all smiles about daughter Jenna’s wedding to Brendan Higgins in Aspen on October 4. . . Donnie Miller was recalling his recent 31st wedding anniversary to Martha and her Princess Di wedding dress. . . Tracy and Richard Cheatham were enjoying life at Museum Tower after selling their estate in Volk Estate. . . Others going through the metal detectors included Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Anne and Larry Nixon, Mary McDermott and Dan Patterson, Linda Evans, Cate and Jeremy Ford, Marla and Mike Boone, Jan and Fred Hegi, Sally and Forest Hoglund, Gloria Campos, Robin Robinson, Karen and David Shutte, Alicia and Scott Wood, Mary Jalonick, Lesley Matinelli, Sarah and Alan Losinger, Kathy and Bill Shuford, Barbara and Ralph Babb, Robin and Norm Bagwell, Linda and Bill Custard.
After the last photo was taken in the meet-and-greet, the crowd was moved downstairs for dinner (port poached pears with pecan crusted Texas goat cheese and mission fig vinaigrette, mignon of bistro style au poivre with cognac peppercorn cream, Gruyère gratin potatoes and citrus steamed asparagus and flourless chocolate cake with tart cherry compote and Bailey’s pistachio anglaise). Before folks were seated, Jeb reported his travel schedule is a busy one, but it includes frequent stops in Dallas. For instance, just in the following week, he was to return to the area on September 28 for the baptism of “Little P” (aka Jeb’s grandson courtesy of Mandy and son George P.). Then Jeb and his wife, Columba, were headed to Europe only to return once again to Dallas for Barbara Bush’s “Celebration of Reading” on Monday, October 7, at the Meyerson.
Mayor Mike Rawlings walked up to Jeb and said, “Governor, welcome to Dallas.”
After the dinner, Salesmanship Club Executive Director Michelle Kinder explained the importance of the centers and the upcoming conference.
Referring to Michelle’s talk, Rawlings, admitted to the crowd, “I was intimidated because I was going to introduce Governor Bush, but now I’m scared to death.” He then went on to describe the Salesmanship Club — “They’re a tough crowd. . . This room is full of leaders, not whiners, who understand we’re fighting for our kids.”
Jeb started his talk with an update on the family — “George might have been president, but Laura designed this place!” He admitted that being the father of a candidate is the hardest thing to do.
He then turned to the night’s topic: young people. Jeb said the problem with children is that they begin to act like adults. They lose the wonder and innocence. If the focus was on a “committed family life [as] the organizing principle of our country,” the other problems would disappear. But this was not going to happen thanks to “a fairy godmother. . . All of us have to be engaged.” With half the 17M kids enrolled in K-3 in poverty, he stressed the importance of establishing higher academic standards, increasing choice (in schools) for parents, etc.
Then he offered three reforms:
- Stress early childhood literacy.
- Digital learning.
- Teaching effectiveness. He claimed that kids get a 50% penalty with an ineffective teacher. Impeding reform is collective bargaining based on longevity of service. Ineffective teachers should be found and kicked out of classrooms. Mediocre teachers should be “remediated,” and great teachers should be recognized and rewarded.
His final point was about the Salesmanship Club’s program — it shouldn’t be viewed as a charity. Rather it should be consider re-instilling [in all students] the right to rise in society.
It should be noted that during Jeb’s discussion of point #3, a number of eyes looked in the direction of Mike Miles, who appeared to be wearing an approving smile.