Davenport Central High School graduate Tom Hudson, co-anchor and managing editor of public television’s “Nightly Business Report,” is the keynote speaker for the Davenport Schools Foundation gala on Sunday, celebrating the foundation’s 25th anniversary.
Hudson, 40, who graduated from Davenport Central in 1990, said, “I’m a Blue Devil and always will be. Many of my closest friendships began in the Davenport schools and continue to this day.”
Norman Bower, development director for the foundation, said he had been searching for a good candidate to be keynote speaker for the anniversary event. The foundation holds a gala event once every 18-24 months, but he wanted this one to be special.
“The board president kept bringing up Tom Hudson,” Bower said. “This guy is the real deal. He’s a national broadcaster and he has the credentials as a Davenport Central graduate.
“We want to showcase the best and the brightest of those who have come through the Davenport schools, and who exhibit the work ethic and Midwestern roots and the value of growing up in this area, and Hudson does that.”
Hudson’s parents, both of whom were teachers in the Davenport district, still live in Davenport. His dad, Jack, was a chemistry teacher at Davenport West High School; his mom, Gwen, taught at Eisenhower Elementary School.
Hudson said that when Bower asked if he would be the keynote speaker at the event, “My first reaction was, ‘Are you sure you got the right guy?’ I was humbled to be frank about it. I’m honored and humbled in equal amounts.”
Hudson and his family moved from Chicago to Miami in 2010, where he works on the “Nightly Business Report,” a 30-minute news wrapup broadcast Monday through Friday. In the Quad-Cities, it is seen at 10 p.m. on Iowa Public Television.
Hudson said last week that he had not fully mapped out his speech.
The economy is a huge issue, he said, but he wants to share what he learned in the Davenport schools that put him on the path to success.
“What my education in the Davenport schools gave me is invaluable and irreplaceable,” Hudson said. “The biggest is that it allowed me to understand the value of curiosity, and encouraged me to explore that.”
Students were encouraged to explore, he said, so he got into music and art and played in the band and orchestra. He also learned the basics of journalism.
“Learning that at age 13 and 14 served me incredibly well,” Hudson said. “It taught me how to think critically, which is an invaluable education you’re not going to get out of a textbook. You get that from caring teachers and a nurturing and challenging environment. It also taught me how to think clearly, and the ability to think clearly and communicate clearly is necessary in the business world.
Of great importance, he said, is that his parents and his teachers, “allowed us to be ourselves.” His hair at the time was below his shoulder blades, he added.
“That individuality was more than tolerated,” he said. “It was, to some degree, celebrated.”
At 16 or 17, most students don’t recognize the education they receive for what it truly means, Hudson said.
“But when you get to the age we are now, you realize it has value unto itself,” he said.
“As a teen, you want two things,” Hudson said. “You want to stand out as an individual, and the other is to get along with any group that would take you.
“At Central you could do both of those things and it was a really wonderful experience.”