St. Petersburg College has become an integral partner with the Pinellas County Schools in its effort to revitalize Gibbs High School, identified as a failing school by the state.
Since the partnership began about two months ago, the college has:
- Offered student teachers to work in the classrooms.
- Provided the college’s developmental reading program for use at Gibbs.
- Administered the College Placement Test to more than 400 Gibbs students and, this week, began Dual Enrollment classes for the students who qualified.
- Worked with students to get their ideas for improving Gibbs’ image and bridging the gap between students in the magnet programs and the traditional program.
Pinellas Schools Superintendent Julie Janssen thanked the St. Petersburg College Board of Trustees for its support and said she is excited about all the possibilities the partnership with SPC makes available.
“We are getting smarter by the day in working with our friends at the Pinellas County Schools,” President Bill Law told the Board of Trustees this week.
The efforts at Gibbs have taken shape quickly.
Law saw a story in August about the state’s intervention at Gibbs and the difficulties there in trying to overcome the state’s F grade. He set up a meeting with Gibbs principal Kevin Gordon and Janssen and offered to help.
He appointed Watson Haynes as the college’s point person with Gibbs.
Haynes, coordinator of the Consular Institute, now is spending much of his time on the Gibbs effort. The stakes are high for the Gibbs administration and faculty; the state’s “intervene” status meant Gibbs Principal Kevin Gordon and his faculty and staff would have little time to turn things around.
“Kevin has only been there for one year,” Haynes said. “He’s made a lot of progress, he’s got the kids at Gibbs to pull their pants up and improve their grades, but if they don’t make real progress soon, the principal and half the faculty will be gone.”
Haynes said Dr. Law didn’t have a specific plan in mind, but he wanted SPC to make its resources – and perhaps its college flavor – available to Gibbs.
The senior staff at Gibbs soon sensed that SPC might be a major source of help.
“Gibbs’ staff began to place things on the table,” Haynes said. “They were eager to meet with us. If a meeting interfered with someone’s schedule, they would make the necessary adjustments. They understood that it’s important for these kids to get help so they can be successful.”