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Kevin Gordon

Kevin Gordon

Gibbs High School principal Kevin Gordon, who led the school through its turnaround from an F rating to a grade just short of a B last year, will take over leadership of St. Petersburg College’s Downtown and Midtown campuses in November.

Gordon, 47, will replace Yvonne Ulmer, who is retiring as the campuses’ chief executive officer.

“We are thrilled to have a student-focused leader of Kevin’s ability join the college’s efforts in Downtown and Midtown,” St. Petersburg College President Bill Law said. “St. Petersburg College has worked closely with Gibbs High as Kevin and the Gibbs staff helped their students make impressive gains. We know Kevin will bring that same energy and vision to his new role at the college.”

Tonjua Williams, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at St. Petersburg College, said Gordon’s deep roots in the community will be valuable as the college looks for ways to improve its services to students and to expand its offerings.

“Kevin grew up here, and he knows the community,” Williams said. “He’s passionate about education at all levels and is uniquely positioned to help students of all ages and needs reach their goals.”

Gordon said the move to St. Petersburg College “is a natural progression of the work I’ve done in education, in K-12. At Downtown and Midtown, I’ll really be able to work closely with the high schools to better prepare kids for college and partner with the school district and other agencies in the Midtown area.”

St. Petersburg College currently has about 2,600 students enrolled at the Downtown Center and about 600 enrolled at Midtown. The college’s Midtown center operates from leased space on 22nd Street S, but the college is working with the city of St. Petersburg on plans to build a new 45,000-square-foot classroom center on 22nd Street S, near the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center.

Gordon has a bachelor’s in economics from Florida State University and a master’s in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. He will receive his doctorate in educational leadership at the University of South Florida in December.

He joined the Pinellas County school system in 1987 and has been a teacher, magnet programs recruiter and coordinator of the 500 Role Models of Excellence program. He was assistant principal at Clearwater High from 1996 to 2003; principal of John Hopkins Middle School from 2003 to 2005; and principal of High Point Elementary from 2005 to 2009. He became principal of Gibbs High in 2009.

High resolution photo of Kevin Gordon

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     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.

Gibbs High School

 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.”

(more…)

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St. Petersburg College president wants to help troubled Gibbs High

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