TAMPA, Fla. - "What's going on guys?" asks the man in the suit that's just entered the classroom.
Students at The Pepin Academies like their new principal, Dr. Craig Butz. A few of them even cheer.
And he's heard the cheers before. Thirty years ago, Craig Butz, the hockey player, was known as an enforcer and was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the same draft as Hall of Famer and Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman, who went in the first round. Unfortunately, Butz never made it to the NHL.
"You're looking at the top one-tenth of one percent of the players in the world. And so I maybe was close to that, but I wasn't at that level," said Butz.
But he is on the level of those who need him most at Pepin Academies, the special needs students.
"It's a bit of a cliche, but, they don't really care how much you know until they know that you care," explained Butz.
Crisha Scolaro, founder of The Pepin Academies, could tell that Dr. Butz possessed that extra something that would make him the ideal candidate to be their new leader.
"You have to have it in your heart to do this and its got to be what your life is all about; and he has it, he's got it," said Scolaro.
Butz still has the desire to lace up the skates. Wednesday night he played in a men's league game at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.
Butz continues to take away what he's learned at the hockey rink and apply to his life away from the ice."
"If everyone plays within their limitations and plays to their strengths, it builds a best overall team. And I think it's the same when you're leading a group of people at a school or whatever the organization is," Butz said.
The Pepin Academies will be able to handle more special needs students starting this fall. They are expanding and opening a new campus in Riverview. It will be located at 10530 Lake St. Charles Blvd. in Riverview. For more information, call The Pepin Academies at (813) 236-1755.
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President Barack Obama says Nelson Mandela earned his place in history through struggle, shrewdness, persistence and faith.