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spaceAbout 100 St. Petersburg College ethics and education students traveled to the Kennedy Space Center in February to experience a simulated launch, talk to an astronaut, tour the Vehicle Assembly Building and stand in absolute awe before the space shuttle Atlantis… but these were just a few of the experiences made available to them during their up close and personal tour of NASA.

From an ethics perspective, students were confronted with several dilemmas during their visit and began considering issues for which they were not previously aware. For example, student Kaitlyn Moore now wonders, “Who owns the rights to drill on the moon?” Before visiting the space center, she had never thought about drilling rights on the moon and she is concerned that the right people make ethical decisions about space issues.

Education students were introduced to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lessons they can use in their future classrooms. They also learned about a wealth of resources available to teachers through NASA and internships available to new college graduates.

Engineering student Ervin Taho says visiting the Kennedy Space Center “gave me a lot of motivation in the pursuit of my career. Science has changed human history forever and it couldn’t be any more noticeable than visiting NASA and personally taking a look at the great accomplishments the world’s brightest minds have put together.”

The highlight of the day for most visitors was encountering the space shuttle Atlantis. Student George Wood, a future science teacher, said seeing Atlantis “sent chills down my spine and pride through my spirit.”

The NASA field trip was organized for ethics students by Dr. Adeniji Odutola, Chair of the Ethics Department and sponsored by the Ethics Department. Dr. Odutola organized the trip based on his experiences traveling with SPC education students. Future trips to NASA for ethics students will be offered in future semesters.

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St. Petersburg College Early Childhood Education students, faculty and local professionals will attend an innovative workshop that trains teachers to use active, arts-based experiences to teach preschoolers about science, technology, engineering and math.

Funded by an SPC Innovation Grant, the workshops will have an immediate impact on the children in one local Head Start Center and continue to impact future teachers as SPC begins to implement the new method into their Early Childhood classes as early as this fall.

“We want to make sure everyone is aware of scholarly research on STEM to meet the unique needs of children in their setting,” said Anne Ryan, SPC professor and coordinator of Early Childhood A.S. degree program. “To me this is the incubator. We want to generate new ideas that get children excited to learn.”

Workshop for Professionals

On March 3-7, a Teaching Artist from the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts will spend the week with about 70 3-4 year olds and their teachers at a Tarpon Springs Head Start Center.

In anticipation of the art that these children will develop, highlights from the Wolf Trap program will be displayed at the Leepa-Rattner Museum during the month of September.

Workshop for SPC students and faculty

Students and faculty in SPC’s Early Childhood Education program can also learn about teaching STEM through the arts at a workshop on Thursday, March 6, 6-9 p.m. in the teaching auditorium at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. Contact Anne Ryan to reserve your spot as space is limited. If space is available, the program will also be open to local early childhood professionals seeking continuing education credit.

SPC Early Childhood Education Program

SPC’s Early Childhood Education program serves students currently working in the early childhood field or those preparing for a career. The program is designed to give students a smooth transition from certificate to associate degree to bachelors degree.

“Well meet them where they are in their early childhood career and help them reach their next goal,” said Ryan.

Other Upcoming Early Childhood events

Early Care and Education Conference – Preschool Track
Saturday, April 26, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

SPC Week – Early Childhood Info Sessions
Wednesday, March 5, 4 and 6 p.m.
St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

Related Links

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SPC College of Education alumna Katelyn Pilsbury

Katelyn Pilsbury

SPC College of Education grad Katelyn Pilsbury has been named Florida’s Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Rookie Teacher of the Year. The award, given annually by the Florida Council for Exceptional Children, honors the state’s best new ESE teacher during their first three years of work.

Pilsbury, 25, is a full-time Autistic Spectrum Disorder kindergarten teacher at Plumb Elementary School in Clearwater. She emotionally recounted how her principal last year, Seymour Brown III, told her that she was the first teacher he had nominated for this award in 30 years.

“I always knew I’d be a good teacher and love my students,” said Pilsbury. “But I never thought I’d be a teacher that would win an award for what I did.”

This year’s winner will be announced at an awards dinner on Friday, Oct. 18.

Preparing for success

Pilsbury completed a bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education (K-12) with a certification in Elementary Education with ESOL and Reading Endorsements at SPC. This summer, she also completed her Autism endorsement at SPC.

“I had personal relationships with my SPC teachers,” said Pilsbury. “They cared about me. If I didn’t get something they took the time to really explain it.”

In the classroom

Currently in her second year of teaching at Plumb Elementary, Pinellas County’s largest elementary school, Pilsbury leads a team of two ESE associates to provide the individual attention the six children, all boys, in their class require. Today’s lesson was focused on the difference between day and night.

Click to enlarge
In the classroom Learning about Whole Body Language Spelling my name

“What do you see in the day?” she said slowly. “Yes, the sun. What color is the sun? Yes, the sun is yellow.”

The cadence in her voice and simple repetitive phrasing have a calming effect on the children. Her classroom is cheerful, orderly and filled with bulletin boards and learning resources specifically designed to help autistic students learn. They each have their own color chair.

“Caden, sit in the green chair,” she says.

He comes back, sits down and the lesson continues. In this class, the lesson is as much about staying focused, following directions and listening as it is about the sun, the moon and the stars.

SPC Education Internships

All College of Education students at SPC are given extensive experience in public schools including diverse placements in elementary, middle and high schools. The role veteran educators’ play in coming alongside new teachers like Pilsbury is priceless.

“I learned so much in my final internships,” Pilsbury said. “That was when I really knew I was ready to be a teacher and have my own class.”

Her final internship was at Blanton Elementary School, where she was mentored by veteran teacher Kathleen Hehn in a K-2 classroom for Independent Varying Exceptionalities (IVE). The Kindergarten-Grade 2 children in her class had a variety of special needs stemming from Traumatic Brain Injuries, Seizure Disorders and Downs Syndrome.

Hands on learning

In her first year of teaching, Pilsbury worked with funding from USF’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) to plant a garden on campus that the kids worked in. The produce stand they created brought a new level of excitement and learning to her class.

Click to enlarge
Hands on learning project pelican Hands on learning project

“They were exchanging money and communicating with others,” she said. “They said things like ‘What would you like?’ It was so exciting.”

She is applying for grants for the same project again this year in partnership with CARD, the Partnership for Effective Programs for Students with Autism (PEPSA) and The Florida Farm Bureau.

Local CEC chapter hosts state conference

Pilsbury was the winner of the local version of the same award in April. Since that time, she also was named Vice President of the Suncoast 176 Chapter of the CEC.

She and a team of other members of the local chapter are busy finalizing plans to host this year’s Florida CEC Annual Conference, Going to Bat for Kids, Oct. 17-19 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront.

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As the school year is beginning for Florida’s students across the state, Gov. Rick Scott has asked a panel of Florida education leaders to discuss the sustainability and transparency of the state’s accountability system to ensure each student has the opportunity to succeed.

WHAT: Education Accountability Summit

WHEN: Monday, Aug. 26, 1 p.m. through Wednesday, Aug. 28, 4 p.m.
(A more detailed schedule will be posted at www.fldoe.org.)

WHERE: EpiCenter
Collaborative Labs at St. Petersburg College
13805 58th Street North
Clearwater, FL

Scott asked Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart to convene the summit to provide the opportunity to openly discuss ideas and options to continue improving Florida’s public school system.

“Florida’s education accountability system has become a national model, but we are at a critical point in our history,” Scott said. “Our students need and deserve a quality education that emphasizes critical thinking and analysis. Our teachers and schools need our support as we continue to compete nationally and globally in preparing students for success in college, career and in life.”

Scott asked Stewart to lead the summit with a focus on four strategic priorities:

  1. State Standards – Continuing to raise the bar on education standards, by including an emphasis on critical and analytical thinking, to drive continued improvement by Florida students
  2. State Standard Assessments – Ensuring the assessment that replaces the FCAT will accurately measure the more challenging standards that will be taught to our students, provides meaningful performance information to our students, is cost effective, results are timely provided and we do not unnecessarily become intertwined with the federal government
  3. School Grades – Improving our education accountability system to further ensure transparency and fairness while providing meaningful and useful information to our parents and educators about how our students and schools are performing
  4. Teacher Evaluations – Understanding how our teachers are evaluated, ensuring transparency throughout the process and using a fair system to identify, recognize and reward our highly performing teachers

Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford are key partners in the summit and have designated leaders from the Legislature to participate.

“Gov. Scott’s Education Accountability Summit will provide the leaders of our Senate Committees on Education and Education Appropriations the opportunity to collect various perspectives and ideas which will be used in committee meeting discussions scheduled to begin next month,” Gaetz said. “The Senate looks forward to working with the governor to build on the gains Florida’s public education system has made over more than a decade, and we appreciate the opportunity to have a seat at the table for this significant event.”

“Florida has made significant progress in improving education over the last 15 years, and it’s important to have a vision so we can continue to ensure our children are succeeding and have the skills they need to compete in today’s global economy,” Weatherford said.  “I commend Gov. Scott for convening this education summit and taking a strong leadership role on the future of educational standards, assessment, school grades and teacher accountability in Florida.”

“Everyone attending this summit shares the same goal:  ensuring that every student in Florida is given the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the career of his or her choice,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand. “This is a great opportunity for educators, business leaders and policy makers to share strategies that will benefit not only our students but our state as a whole.”

To view the meeting via live webcast, visit Florida Department of Education.

To submit ideas or feedback, please share via email at educationsummit@fldoe.org.

ATTENDEES INCLUDE:

Invited by Gov. Scott and Commissioner Stewart with the assistance of education partners:

  • Gary Chartrand – State Board of Education
  • Marshall Criser – Business Community Leader
  • Mark Wilson – Business Community Leader
  • Superintendent Alberto Carvalho – Miami-Dade County
  • Superintendent Joe Joyner – St. Johns County
  • Superintendent Bill Husfelt – Bay County
  • Patricia Levesque – Foundation for Florida’s Future
  • Andy Ford – Florida Education Association
  • Jeff Wright – Florida Education Association
  • Joanne McCall – Florida Education Association
  • Patty Hightower – School Board Chair, Escambia County
  • Wayne Blanton – Florida School Boards Association
  • Eileen Segal – Florida PTA
  • Linda Kearschner – Parent
  • Juhan Mixon – Florida Association of School Administrators
  • Laura Zorc – Parent, Florida Parents Against Common Core
  • Anthony Lockhart – School Principal, Atlantic Community High, Palm Beach County
  • John Kirtley – Florida Charter School Alliance
  • Doug Tuthill – Step Up For Students
  • Keith Calloway – Professional Educators Network, Broward County
  • Steve Chambers – Professional Educators Network, Okaloosa County
  • Dorina Sackman – 2014 Teacher of the Year, Orange County
  • Alex Lopes – 2013 Teacher of the Year, Miami-Dade County
  • Apryl Shackelford – Teacher of the Year, Duval County
  • Jennifer Grove – Business Community Leader, Workforce Florida Inc. Vice Chair
  • Randy Osborne – Community Leader
  • Joe Gruters – CPA, Sarasota County
  • Mark Wilson – Florida Chamber of Commerce
  • Maureen Wilt – Florida Power & Light

Invited by President Gaetz:

  • Sen.  John Thrasher
  • Sen.  John Legg
  • Sen.  Bill Galvano
  • Sen.  Bill Montford

Invited by Speaker Weatherford:

  • Rep. Marlene O’Toole
  • Rep. Erik Fresen
  • Rep. Janet Adkins
  • Rep. Reggie Fullwood

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St. Petersburg College was mentioned in a report by the Tampa Tribune about the challenges Pinellas County teachers, particularly new teachers, face in the upcoming school year.

“Although the school district is requiring all teachers to go through Common Core training with their schools, many new college graduates may be better suited for the shift in teaching, which focuses more on reading and writing and expects students to be able to defend their answers,” according to the article, which noted that SPC already teaches to the Common Core.

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Katelyn Sovocool and Principal Seymour Brown III from the Plumb Elementary School

St. Petersburg College alumna Katelyn Sovocool has been named the winner of the Jack R. Lamb ESE Rookie Teacher of the Year district award from the Suncoast 176 Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

The announcement was made at the CEC Chapter 176 Spring Banquet held at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on April 25.

Sovocool, 24, is a full-time Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) kindergarten teacher at Plumb Elementary School in Clearwater. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education (K-12) with a certification in Elementary Education with ESOL and Reading Endorsements at SPC.

“SPC helped me prepare to reach my dreams of becoming an educator by providing me with a quality education and an unsurpassable experience in the educational field,” Sovocool said in a recent interview. She hopes to make a difference through her career by providing each of her students with the highest quality education possible.

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Katelyn Sovocool

Katelyn Sovocool

St. Petersburg College alumna Katelyn Sovocool is a finalist for the Jack R. Lamb ESE Rookie Teacher of the Year district award by the Suncoast 176 Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

Sovocool, 24, a full-time Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) kindergarten teacher at Plumb Elementary School in Clearwater, completed a bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education (K-12) with a certification in Elementary Education with ESOL and Reading Endorsements.

“When I first started the education program at SPC, I wanted to receive a degree in Elementary Education,” she said. “But, after the informational sessions provided, I learned about the Exceptional Student Education program and felt as though I needed to pursue that degree.”

Although none of her family or friends had a disability and Sovocool had little experience with exceptional students, she felt that she was still making the right choice. “Once I was accepted into the program, I knew I was right where I was meant to be.”

“SPC helped me prepare to reach my dreams of becoming an educator by providing me with a quality education and an unsurpassable experience in the educational field,” said Sovocool. She hopes to make a difference through her career by providing each of her students with the highest quality education possible.

Sovocool is in the running with two other new teachers for the award:

  • Marissa Miranda from Hamilton Disston School
  • Crystal Grimmer from Bardmoor Elementary

Finalists will be recognized and winners will be announced at the Suncoast 176 Chapter’s 35th annual banquet at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

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From left: Sandra Paulik, Cher Gauweiler, Kimmera McCarthy. From left standing: Jessica Grandmaison, Michelle Sutera

The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art celebrated St. Petersburg College Night at the Museum on Thursday, March 21.

Part of the festivities included a display table with a publication that Dr. Cher Gauweiler, Elementary Education Professor, and her students created in collaboration with the museum.

The publication, titled Awakening the Artistic Spirit Within: From a Whisper to a SHOUT, was the culminating project from a FGO Creativity Grant Gauweiler received for 2012-2013. Students who participated in the publication visited the Leepa-Rattner Museum as part of a college course. Then, they selected one piece of art that they felt connected to. After that, the students created an original piece of art or wrote a poem.

Copies of the publication were given as a gift at the event and also distributed to the SPC community. Gauweiler will present the outcomes of this project at the International Conference for College Teaching and Learning Conference in Ponte Vedra Beach on April 10.

“This project is such a complement to the museum’s mission and purpose and a great expression of student creativity sparked by works of art,” said Patricia Buster, Education Coordinator at the museum.

Mary Matlick, a SPC exceptional student education major, praised both the book as well as the creative process behind it. “The book was so thoughtful and I love reading the poetry and looking at the art,” Matlick said in an email. “Thank you so much for encouraging me to do something creative. I have always been into some kind of artistic expression – growing up with two glassblowers for parents left me little choice. It was a good feeling to take a little time and awaken that which has been put on hold for a little while now.”

Before visiting the museum, students also participated in a half-day workshop with Donna Wissinger, a professional flutist and artist-in-residence. She instructed them on how to integrate the arts in their future classrooms through an interactive workshop that incorporated dance, visual art, movement and drama. The purpose of Wissinger’s presentation was to help the students reawaken their own possibly latent creativity and to become more comfortable with the arts.

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The Board of Trustees met Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the Caruth Health Education Center.

The full agenda, including all presentations, is available on the board’s website. The full meeting video (which is 1 hour and 31 minutes long) also is linked on the site.

Meeting highlights included:

  • The board approved the construction manager for the new Midtown Center, Gilbane Building Company. The company was chosen from among 17 applicants and, as part of the agreement, has committed to use local minority subcontractors for at least 30 percent of the work. Watch this portion of the meeting video starting at 0:27:03.
  • The board approved the purchase of the current Midtown location and a property across the street from the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The site will continue to house the college’s Midtown operations until the new Midtown Center is built, then will be converted for auxiliary use. Watch this portion of the meeting video starting at 0:47:48.
  • The board approved the sale of a small piece of land at the Tarpon Springs Campus to a developer who intends to build a Wawa on adjacent property. The item was tabled at the last board meeting while the college clarified terms of the sale, including money that will go to site improvements. Watch this portion of the meeting video starting at 0:23:55.
  • Anne Cooper, senior vice president for academic and student affairs, reported on efforts for excellence in teaching and learning, new faculty evaluations and presented continuing contract recommendations, including mini-profiles of some of the faculty.
  • The board agreed with a recommendation to discontinue the college’s Parks and Leisure Services associate in science degree program. Patty Jones, vice president for human resources and public affairs, gave an update on marketing efforts since February 2012 and a preview of the continuing transition of the college’s marketing.
  • Downtown/Midtown Provost Kevin Gordon reported on efforts to improve the student success rate.
  • Dean Kim Hartman reported on achievements by the College of Education.
  • Teresa Phoenix, chair of the Career Service Council, gave an update on professional development training efforts that begin this spring.

The Board of Trustees next meets at 8:30 a.m. on March 19 at the EpiCenter.

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378a4823de389869ec64851927294b48The seed is planted.  “You should be a teacher,” someone says.

You’ve heard this phrase. You’ve thought this idea many times over the years. But is the dream possible? Don’t let your questions about teaching linger any longer. Attend an Information Session about SPC’s Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the Clearwater Campus, ES 104, 2465 Drew St.

The EPI is an accelerated, hands-on program involving online and evening coursework along with PreK – 12 practical instruction. Teacher candidates work with master educators to craft their knowledge and skills to satisfy rigorous state and district requirements for professional licensure. Applications are being accepted now for the summer.

If you plan to attend the information session, please RSVP online or call Pat Roper at 727-791-2521.

Start today and teach tomorrow!

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