Archive for October, 2011

The St. Petersburg TIMES’ John Fleming calls August: Osage County a comedic masterpiece, while the Sarasota Herald-Tribune says it “crackles with the drama of real life.”

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The second annual Rally Your Future event is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 22 at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The event, which reaches out to youth aging out of the foster care system between the ages of 15 and 22, is sponsored by St. Petersburg College, Ready for Life, Eckerd Community Alternatives, Camelot Community Care, Juvenile Welfare Board and the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin.

“A lot of these youths, when they age out of the system, just get dropped,” said Terry Collier, Coordinator of Business Development and Special Projects at the Allstate Center, who headed the college’s efforts for the event last year. “We’re making major progress with the groups and organizations working with these kids to make sure that they have choices and that they have options.”

The youths will get to tour the aquarium and meet with the marine biologists who work there to learn about the field, as well as meet Winter the dolphin, whose journey to get a prosthetic tail has been featured in the movie “Dolphin Tail.” A form of adoption also is at the heart of her story.

“When Winter was rescued as a juvenile, she had no mother and probably would not have survived without a mother,” Collier said. “Winter was adopted by Panama, a female adult dolphin also being rehabilitated at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. They bonded and continue a close relationship, as Winter has overcome not only the tragedy of losing her mother but her tail as well.”

“We hope this event opens their eyes to the wealth of opportunities that are in this area and that the college can offer them,” said Theresa Kontodiakos, Baccalaureate Recruiter in Enrollment Management. She hopes the experience will bring SPC’s lower and upper division programs like the School of Veterinary Technology, Biology and Orthotics & Prosthetics to their attention.

Last year’s event, which was attended by 139 youths, was primarily job-oriented, offering career assessments and having financial aid representatives and recruiters available to answer their questions. This year’s event is a more educationally and socially-oriented, concluding with a Thanksgiving dinner that gives the youths an opportunity to celebrate the holiday together with the only family they’ve known: each other.

Although attendance is not mandatory for them, event planners are hoping for another good turnout this year. The college will provide buses to transport the youths to the aquarium.

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The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions played host to five young female leaders from the nation of Yemen on Oct. 17 for a presentation on the fundamentals of American governance. It was the second visit to the Seminole campus by a delegation of foreign visitors through the U.S. State Department’s “International Visitor Leadership Program.” The first delegation included 11 young leaders from Sudan on Sept. 22.

The Yemen visitors were welcomed by Joseph Smiley, Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and David Klement, Executive Director of the Policy Institute. Former State Rep. Janet Long, Project Manager for the Institute, opened with a brief review of the ascent of women in leadership roles in recent years and offered a contrast of the leadership styles of women and men.

Three faculty members gave the visitors a concise primer on the essential elements of American democracy:

  • Tara Newsom, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, presented on the structure and foundations of the U.S. system, touching on the decentralized, self-regulating nature of Federalism, the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances of the federal government.
  • Heather Roberson, Instructor of Government, focused on leadership, decision-making and elections, including a comprehensive review of the American political process
  • Suzanne Preston, Associate Professor of Social Science, spoke on the role of special-interest groups, technology in campaigning and the media.

“It was an amazing experience to meet with these exceptional women,” said Roberson. “I will most certainly be taking this experience back into the classroom with me to share time and time again.

The delegation’s visit was arranged through the International Council of the Tampa Bay Region, the official regional partner for the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. ICTBR has hosted more than 3,000 international emerging leaders from more than 160 countries since it was founded in 2000.

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“Jannus: American Aviator,” a historical documentary produced by St. Petersburg College Videographer Jeremy Peplow and his class of Advanced Videography students, is one of six historical documentaries nominated for a 2011 Suncoast Regional Emmy Award.

The historical documentary, which aired July 18, 2010 on WEDU, educates viewers about American aviation history, advances in technology and industry pioneers. It shows how the trillion-dollar commercial aviation industry started from the purchase of one ticket: a flight on the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line piloted by Tony Jannus.

“This is the highest award in television, and it’s something that people strive their entire careers to win,” said Peplow, who oversaw the 12-student project that was produced for the Tampa Bay PBS affiliate. “It’s fiercely competitive, especially in news. It’s all you do all year long is think about winning an Emmy for whatever you’re working on.

“To be nominated as a student is unheard of,” he said. “‘Jannus: American Aviator’ is competing with professionals in the field.”

“I think it shows how we are preparing our students: not only by helping them build their resumes with this work, but also by showcasing their accomplishments before they graduate,” Peplow said.

The Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards is open to television markets in Florida; Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles and New Orleans, La.; Mobile, Ala.; Thomasville, Ga. and Puerto Rico. Award winners will be announced on Saturday, Dec. 3 at The Westin Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale.

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The St. Petersburg TIMES previewed a local production of Dracula, featuring SPC student Tom Massey in the lead role.

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The St. Petersburg Times covered Kevin Gordon’s selection as provost for Downtown and Midtown campuses.

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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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