There is no one more important to our community than teachers. They help mold and guide us into who we will become as adults, business leaders and community champions. Unfortunately, they are also the most underrecognized and underfunded of all professionals.

Teachers exert the greatest influence on the quality of a child’s education, and when we fully invest in our teachers, the future of our kids and Southern Arizona brightens significantly. We need to support our teachers, make sure they get the professional training needed to remain top-quality, and make sure our classrooms are fully stocked.

I can remember every teacher I have ever had, from kindergarten through college, and the impact they have had on my life has been enormous!

According to 2011 Census Bureau data, Tucson was the sixth-poorest of the nation’s large metropolitan areas, with a 20.4 percent poverty rate. Education is the remedy to curing poverty, and our teachers are the prescription.

We must build up our teachers and our education system and change this alarming number. Our teachers are the cornerstone for our education system, which produces our companies’ employees. Tucson’s skilled labor force is directly connected to the quality of education we provide across the region. Developing Tucson as a region for science, technology and innovation means developing and graduating students who are academically prepared. Quality education begins with a leader in the classroom.

Because of this, I have joined forces with Tucson Values Teachers, a local nonprofit organization, to launch the brand-new Tucson Supports Teachers Fund. Tucson Values Teachers is working to eliminate the gaps teachers feel in both their level of appreciation and their pockets here in Southern Arizona.

I have started the fund with my donation of $50,000. My goal is to have at least 100 Tucson business leaders match this investment and make a donation of their own of $1,000 or more. Individuals in the community can also invest in teachers by making a donation (at any dollar amount) in honor of their favorite teachers.

It is easy for anyone to donate: Just go to  and hit the donate button! And if you have any questions, call TVT at 327-7619.

We all have been influenced by at least one teacher. Maybe an English teacher taught you an appreciation for books, or maybe your statistics teacher opened your eyes to numbers. The unsung heroes of the classroom are our teachers, and I believe in Tucson Values Teachers’ work to raise the economic standing and respect levels of all district, private and charter school teachers in Southern Arizona.

The Tucson Supports Teachers Fund has been established to help finance teachers’ continuing education and recertification, and to help keep them in the classroom doing what they love most — teaching. This will be an ongoing fund, and it provides the best opportunity for businesses and individuals to directly invest in all our teachers.

As a community, we cannot afford to wait for federal or state funding to fill in the gaps in our education system. What we can do is step up today and invest in high-quality education for our children by contributing to the Tucson Supports Teachers Fund.

We can be part of TVT’s success in letting our teachers know they are valued and provide them with economic incentives and the professional development so they can continue to teach and to be their very best and lead Tucson to be its best.

Jim Click Jr. is the president of Jim Click Automotive.