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St. Petersburg College will celebrate the academic success of Latino students who have a grade point average of 3.0 and higher during the Vilma Fernandez-Zalupski Academic Excellence Awards ceremony. The ceremony will be:

6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23
Arts Auditorium
Clearwater Campus

About 150 high school students from Tarpon Springs and Clearwater are expected to attend the event, which honors Fernandez-Zalupski, the first woman in Florida to serve as a community college provost. A native of Ybor City, she worked as provost of the Clearwater Campus for 16 years before retiring in 1995.

As provost, Fernandez-Zalupski helped develop the first International Center and Women on the Way, a program that guides women through the college experience. The Tampa Hispanic Heritage Foundation for outstanding service to education has honored her.

The Master of Ceremonies for the event will be Robin Gomez, auditor and Hispanic-Latino Liaison for the City of Clearwater. Saby E. Guidicelli, Workforce Manager/Human Resources, Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County will give the keynote address.

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St. Petersburg College’s Center for Public Safety Innovation announces the launch of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Executive Session on Police Leadership website at www.bjaexecutivesessiononpoliceleadership.org. This collaborative effort between SPC and BJA, the multi-year Executive Session (2010-2014), focused on the role of policing and police leaders in the changing environment of 21st century public safety.

The Executive Session on Police Leadership assembled leaders from policing, local government, national associations and academics for a series of meetings to discuss the critical issues facing leaders in the coming decades. Over the course of the four-year project, these leaders directed working groups that examined specific topics in depth. Those topics ranged from trust and collaboration to problem solving and the law to leadership development in a new age of learning.

“The work of the Executive Session will make a timely contribution to national discussions on the changing nature of public safety and the role of police leaders in guiding their organizations and developing the next generation of leaders,” said Denise E. O’Donnell, director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance. “We join with St. Petersburg College, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Executive Research Forum in celebrating the release of this website.”

The multimedia web site offers a mix of downloadable video, audio pieces, long and short papers and discussion tools that examine police leadership from many angles. Highlights of the website include an eight-part video series that addresses, among other subjects, the relevance of Peel’s Principles today.  Current leaders can use the site to become more effective in their own work and in their ability to prepare new leaders for the future. The material can also be used as a teaching resource for individuals involved in leadership development.

“It is wonderful to see St. Petersburg College championing a project that can truly impact how executives lead today and into the future,” said Darrel W. Stephens, co-director of the Executive Session project, executive director of Major Cities Chiefs and former City of St. Petersburg Police Chief. “Agencies from coast to coast and the communities they serve will be impacted by the work being released this month.”

ABOUT CPSI: The Center for Public Safety Innovation is based at St. Petersburg College’s Allstate Center and develops and delivers high quality training for emergency and first responders, military personnel, and the general public using state-of-the-art technology and best practices in education and training.

ABOUT SPC: St. Petersburg College was Florida’s first two-year college (founded in 1927) as well as the state’s first community college to offer bachelor’s degrees (2002). Today, SPC is one of 28 state colleges, and with 11 learning sites, serves as a model for incorporating bachelor’s degree programs into traditional two-year institutions.

ABOUT BJA: The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office.

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Civics education and engagement are a top priority at St. Petersburg College.

On Oct. 10-11, the Civics Club at the Clearwater Campus will host the Second Annual Florida Model Legislature event, which gives students hands-on experience in creating and passing legislation. So far, students have drafted 16 bills dealing with public policy issues that will move through their lawmaking process.

“The goal of the Model Legislature is to bring students together for civic dialogue and learning,” said Suzanne Preston, Social Sciences Professor and Civics Club Advisor on the Clearwater Campus.

The event is open to all SPC students to help them develop civic leadership and awareness of local and state issues, Preston said. They can then become better informed citizens and stronger participants in their communities, she added.model-lex

More than 80 students from several campuses participated in the inaugural event last year. Preston said the event let students put on their “legislative hats,” roll up their sleeves, and debate, negotiate and compromise on Florida’s public policy dilemmas, learning more about themselves and their community.

“This event teaches students how government operates, and creates an excitement in them when they see what is actually going on in the legislature and how it effects them in real life,” said Andrew Malyj, former president of the SGA at the campus.

Civics Club members led the initiative to bring this event to the college after members of the Clearwater Student Government Association traveled to Tallahassee in Spring 2013 to participate in a Model Legislature. The students were inspired by the event and proposed bringing a similar experience home to their campus so more SPC students could benefit from the experience.

“Student leadership on the Clearwater Campus brought this initiative to the Clearwater Campus and the Clearwater SGA funded it both years,” Preston said.

Workshops were held this week leading up to the two-day event to encourage students from across the college’s 11 learning sites to participate. The workshops teach students how to draft legislation, participate in the formal debate processes and improve civic dialogue through collaboration.

Civics Club members, as well as past Model Legislature participants, will play leadership roles in this year’s event. Social and Behavioral Science faculty will also lend their support.

“Students are left with a lifelong understanding of the legislative process and how to engage as a citizen leader,” said Tara Newsom, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Visit the SPC Model Legislature website for more information about the event.

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The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College will host a forum featuring local candidates seeking public office and information about key issues that will be on the Nov. 4 ballot. The free event is open to the public and will be held:

5:30-9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 2
Digitorium UP 160
Seminole Campus
9200 113th Street N
Seminole, FL 33772

The debates are presented in an effort to dispel voter apathy and to honor the importance of an informed electorate. Facing off will be candidates for Pinellas County Commission from Districts 2 and 4, and candidates for the eight most highly contested seats in the state legislature. Also up for debate will be three proposed amendments to the State Constitution.

Admission is free but advance registration is requested.

A distinguished panel of experts will question the candidates and provide background on the issues. They are:

  • Frank Alcock, associate professor of political science, New College of Florida, Sarasota
  • Adam Smith, political editor, Tampa Bay Times
  • Roy Slater, social science professor, St. Petersburg College
  • Noah Pransky, investigative reporter, WTSP 10 News, St. Petersburg
  • Moderator: Joni James, deputy editor of editorials, Tampa Bay Times

The debates will be split into three one-hour sessions, with the first two combining state legislative races whose district borders are relatively contiguous, for the convenience of voters interested in their home district candidates. A brief discussion of the three constitutional amendments will precede the candidate debates. The schedule is:

  • 5:30-6 p.m. – Constitutional Amendments 1 2, and 3
  • 6-7 p.m. – House Districts 65, 66 and 67
  • 7-8 p.m. – Senate District 22, House Districts 68 and 69
  • 8-9 p.m. – County Commission Districts 2 and 4

The event is co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times.

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It’s back to school time, and festival season is just around the corner in Florida. To kick off the festivities, the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at the St. Petersburg College Tarpon Springs Campus will host its annual Artists’ Market on:

Saturday, Sept. 27
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 28
noon to 5 p.m.

Visitors can browse and buy original works by more than 30 local artists inside the comfort and ambiance of the museum and get a head start on their holiday shopping. Original artwork on display will include wearable art, paintings, jewelry, prints and more. Also available is an Art Book Nook offering gently used books and magazines for sale.

Admission to the museum, market and parking are free both days. Food and beverages will be available from the Bayou Cafe of Tarpon Springs.

All proceeds from the event support participating artists, Isabelle’s Museum Store and LRMA’s educational mission.

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The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College will present the final forum in a three-part series on Pinellas County’s transit sales tax referendum, this time in the North County area. The forum, titled “Dealing with Gridlock: Is there a Light Rail in Pinellas County’s Future,” will be held:

6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30
SPC Clearwater Campus ES 104
2465 Drew St.

As have the two previous programs on this issue, held at SPC’s Midtown Center and Seminole Campus, this forum will examine the pros and cons of a referendum on the November ballot that would raise the sales tax rate by one cent per dollar of spending, from 7 to 8 cents, to finance improvements to the Pinellas County public transportation system.

The transit tax proposal, if approved by more than 50 percent of voters, would affect every Pinellas County taxpayer whenever they purchase goods subject to the sales tax. It has become one of the most hotly debated local issues of the 2014 election season, perhaps second only to a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The forum will open with pro-con presentations on the proposal by advocates for and against passage. Speaking for the amendment will be Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala. Speaking against will be Barbara Haselden, campaign manager and spokesperson for No Tax for Tracks, a citizens group which opposes the proposal.

The final portion of the program will be devoted to answering questions from the audience. Moderating the debate will Dr. Nicholas Manias, Professor of Applied Ethics at SPC.

The proposed tax increase would authorize a one-cent sales tax increase for 30 years, which would raise a projected $130 million per year. The tax hike would be partially offset by eliminating the current .75-mill property tax for transit that brings in $32 million. For that revenue stream, PSTA promises a 65 percent increase in bus service, a Bus Rapid Transit line, that is, dedicated bus lanes, on major corridors; and, eventually, a 24-mile light rail line that would roughly follow the I-275 corridor north to the Gateway area, then head west along Ulmerton/Roosevelt Road/East and West Bay Blvd. to downtown Clearwater.

Advance registration is requested.

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The 40-acre park Natural Habitat Park at SPC’s Seminole Campus will serve as one of two public landscape locations for the Florida Native Plant Society Pinellas Chapter’s eighth annual Tour of Native Landscapes on Saturday, Sept. 27.

The self-guided tour, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will involve a total of six sites throughout Pinellas County. Participants are given maps and information about each site and they can visit them on their own based on their schedule during the day.

Candace “Candy” Arnold, President of the Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, said that restorative efforts were part of the reason why the organization selected SPC’s Natural Habitat Park as one of the locations for the tour.

“One of the reasons is that our mission is the restoration of native plants and native plant communities,” Arnold said. “The habitat is just absolutely gorgeous.”

In 2010, the Natural Habitat Park opened after undergoing a restoration, removing exotic and non-native vegetation to better highlight the natural plant life.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity for our members to see what great restoration can look like,” she said. “If you see some of the pictures from before when they were removing some of the exotic plants, it was thick with exotics. Now it’s filled with beautiful native vegetation.”

Maura Scanlon, Assistant Professor of Biology in Environmental Science Technology at the Seminole Campus, said the habitat also serves as green space for relaxing and as an outdoor classroom for field studies.

“It is ideal as it highlights not only the beauty of native plants and animals, but also how impacted urban land can become ecologically functional again through wetland restoration,” Scanlon said.

While the habitat has not been featured on the landscape tour in prior years, members of the Florida Native Plant Society have served as speakers for students in the Associate in Science Environmental Technology program and Seminole Environmental Club at the Seminole Campus.

The Natural Habitat Park is teeming with life – including more than 250 species of birds, dragonflies, reptiles and native plants. The park features a 200-yard-long boardwalk with 12 viewing stations, a 50-seat teaching pavilion, a floating dock and a butterfly and sculpture garden.

Students from the SPC Seminole Environmental Club will provide assistance to visitors and answer questions during the tour.

“Having the park be a stop on the tour provides an opportunity for the public to learn more about SPC, our programs, and this great resource,” Scanlon said.

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