Archive for October, 2010

     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.”


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The SPC Alumni Association is partnering with Harris Connect to produce a print directory for our alumni.  Harris is currently getting in touch with SPC alumni to update their contact information and to offer them an opportunity to purchase a directory. 

For more information, contact Tiffany Stallard, Associate Director, St. Petersburg College Alumni Association, at 341-3055; or Harris Connect at 877-596-9053.

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          St. Petersburg College’s Applied Ethics Institute will host a forum entitled “The Ethics of Preserving Green Space” Oct. 27 at the Seminole Campus’ Digitorium.

            The forum begins at 6 p.m. At 5 p.m., a walk will be conducted through the campus’ recently opened natural habitat park.

            Forum speakers include:

  • Rep. Janet Long, D-Seminole, a state representative who represents Florida House District 51.
  • Joe Malo, Director of Education, Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
  • Jake Stowers, retired Assistant Pinellas County Administrator.
  • Lester Abberger, Chairman of the Trust for Public Land and Chairman of the Board of the Florida Conservation Campaign.

            The program will be available on the Applied Ethics Website beginning Nov. 1 at www.appliedethicsinstitute.org .

            For additional information, contact Dr. Laurie King at (727) 394-6035.

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When Katie Bandel was ready for college, she wasn’t so sure college was ready for her.

 Born with a visual impairment, going to school presented a number of difficulties. Her high school experience had been less than positive, and she was worried that college would be just as bad – or worse.

“I was nervous,” Bandel recalled of her decision to go to college. “In the past, I didn’t feel there had been many actions taken to accommodate my disability. In middle school and high school, some teachers were accommodating, but others didn’t seem to care. I felt like the whole disabilities issue was swept under the rug.”

 As things turned out, SPC was a good choice for her. People at the college seemed to understand what people with disabilities needed to succeed, she said.

 “I was really impressed,” she said of her first impressions at SPC. “They offered me double testing times, and equipment was available to make things easier for me.”

 One example was a camera she could use in the classroom to record lectures. The camera is easy to manipulate, and makes images bigger and easier to see.

“I can move the camera around and see the teacher or the other students,” she said. “It helps me a lot. It has given me a lot more confidence.” 

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. But SPC doesn’t need a special month to keep the needs of people with disabilities at the forefront. The college has been steadily expanding equipment and services for students with disabilities, even as budgets and resources have been shrinking.

 Filling those needs can be a challenge; the population of students with disabilities goes up every year, and state and federal governments frequently increase their requirements for service.

Peg Connell, Director, Disability Resources in the department of Academic and Student Affairs, said students with disabilities deserve no special favors, but a level playing field – the ability to study and achieve while not being held back by their disabilities.

 Connell said SPC’s challenge is to serve students with disabilities while coping with staff and resource limitations.

 “We are not hugely staffed, and we find ourselves sharing staff more with Counseling and Advising and the MAP Centers,” she said. “Those are the conversations we are having now – how we can all work together and help one another to ensure student success.”

 SPC currently serves 917 students with documented disabilities, Connell said, and that number is expected to rise as enrollments increase and as more students with disabilities become aware of the services SPC provides.

 Another growth factor is expected to come from returning military personnel, many of whom have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other disabilities.

 Another student, William Marshall, has a unique perspective on SPC’s services for students with disabilities – he has been attending classes at the Clearwater Campus for 15 years, and has seen many changes.

 “The department that handles the equipment does a great job,” he said. “Also, there’s a tutoring department that offers all kinds of help.”

 Marshall singled out Aimee Stubbs, a learning specialist at the campus.

 “She bends over backwards to help and she’s really in tune with the student population,” he said.

 Marshall noted how far things have come for people with disabilities just in his lifetime. The birth defect that took his sight and caused other problems was commonly fatal when he was born in 1977. Not only has he survived, but he’s pursuing a degree in business and is preparing to join his brother’s web design business.

 This effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment began in 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The word “physically” was removed in 1962. Congress expanded the week to a month in 1988 and changed the name.

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