Archive for August, 2012

Josh Romney and SPC student Jane Cerulli

Cheslea Clinton

SPC student Jane Cerulli found herself in the heart of the Republican National Convention this week, surrounded by the media and politicos from Josh Romney to Chelsea Clinton.

Now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Administration, Cerulli, 28, said she couldn’t have been more excited by the experience.

“In the public policy program, one of the things we are taught is our experiences can be one of our greatest assets. We have to know them and understand them,” she explained why she enjoyed the opportunity to see the political process firsthand.

Jeff Kronschnabl, the instructor-in-charge of Public Policy Adminsitration program, recommended Cerulli for a daylong session of forums that were part of the RNC.

Wednesday morning Cerulli was attending a seminar, opened to area college students by The Washington Center. Participants were able to hear from a variety of people involved in American government. That afternoon she was at another forum called Conversations with the Next Generation hosted by Microsoft, the National Journal and The Atlantic.  The audience discussed  issues such as college students’ involvement in politics with members of the media including employees from MSNBC and MTV.

Cerulli said she left with a better understanding of the nation’s election process, issues that have been raised in the upcoming presidential election and the candidates’ stance on those topics.

“When it comes to voting and the battle that goes on between the candidates, you kind of get overwhelmed and you start to get confused on the subjects they’re discussing,” she said. “It was nice to get a basic level description of what they are planning to do instead of a commercial.”

Cerulli, who already has a bachelor’s degree in International Business from SPC and is a former president of the Tarpon Springs Campus Student Government Association, thanked the college for all the opportunities she’s had as a student. “I don’t speak to a lot of students from other schools who are sponsored by their school as much,” she said.

The first seminar Cerulli attended allowed participants to hear from those involved in government, from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to former U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Jim Nicholson to a lobbyist for the Ford Motor Company.

At the second event, Cerulli and others heard from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s son Josh Romney and participated in discussion over the lack of involvement among younger adults in the election process.  Matthew Segal, co-founder and president of Our Time, a nationwide non-profit network of young Americans promoting economic and voter empowerment, said during the forum he believed there was a disconnect between the election process and how younger adults communicate using technology, Cerulli said. Another issue raised during the forum was the lack of  educational emphasis on the importance of voting.

Cerulli said a highlight of the second seminar was the amount of participation between the speakers, moderators and crowd. At one point, that level of interaction put her, literally, next to high profile political and media personalities. Chelsea Clinton, who is a special correspondent for NBC News, sat next to her when Clinton was off camera. And she got her picture taken with Josh Romney.

“They’re right there in front of me,” Cerulli said about the big names who were at the seminar. “I could reach out and touch them.”

If she could, Cerulli said she would also like to see the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in person.

“Having the opportunity to experience this was a blessing,” she said. She encouraged others to get out and experience the political process where they can. “If I didn’t have a class obligation or if it was easy to do, I would go to Charlotte.”

See more photos from Cerulli on the college’s Facebook page.

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About 1,200 people munched on food while bands took to the stage for the Welcome Back Bash at St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Wednesday.

The quad event was one of several welcome back bashes that have been held at SPC campuses since the fall semester kicked off. The Tarpon Springs Campus also held a welcome back event Thursday.

A variety of clubs, college teams and departments participated in the St. Petersburg/Gibbs bash. Bands from the Music Industry Recording Arts program played while students lined up for food and got their pictures taken on a large, inflatable couch. Inside the West St. Petersburg Community Library at SPC, people participated in activities not normally associated with a quiet library setting – bowling with books serving as the pins.

The bowling was part of Learning Resources Olympics, which was held as part of the bash and was open to members of the public. Other competitions in the Olympics included darts in the writing studio at the library and golf in the Learning Support Commons in the W. Richard Johnston Technical Building. Staff members who were overall winners were Yulonder Betts who took first place with Ian Call in second place. Prize winners among library patrons and students were Kylea Johnns first place, Prince Uchendu in second place and Brittany Clark in third place. Each received a Barnes & Noble gift card. The Friends of the West St. Petersburg Community Library at St. Petersburg College provided prizes and sponsored the Olympics.

See more photos from the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus event on Facebook. Photos from welcome back events last week at the Allstate Center, Caruth Health Education Center, SPC Downtown and the Seminole Campus also are on Facebook.

More events to welcome students back this semester are planned at the Clearwater Campus on Sept. 5 and also at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art on Sept. 19. Visit the college’s events calendar for more details.

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Ronda Carney

It’s every student’s dream to land a job interview after graduating.  For Ronda Carney, that excitement was multiplied when she landed interviews at three local elementary schools — and received a job offer each time.

“My hope as a new teacher was to get at least one interview opportunity, and I got three,” said Carney, 50, a fall 2011 graduate of the Educator Preparedness Institute. “Then to get an offer for every interview is just unbelievable.”

Carney is now a fifth grade teacher of math, science and social studies at Garrison Jones Elementary School in Dunedin. She began working at the school as a part-time Reading Extended Learning Model Instructor (RELM Instructor), for grades 1-5 shortly after graduation.

She attributes much of her success to the rigor of the EPI program and the bonds it creates among classmates.

“It was a very challenging program,” she said. “There were a lot of tears, a lot of late nights. But I made some of the best friends there and we are still a great support system now that we’re all in classrooms.”

She also appreciated the instructors’ knowledge and the real life experiences that they brought to each class.

“They always taught what was coming up,” Carney said. “It wasn’t ‘well, this is what we’re doing now’; it was ‘we’re going to teach you the common course standards and teach you to the newest level coming down the pike.’”

Starting her teaching career has helped bring her full-circle in her life. In the 1980s, Carney completed an Associate in Arts degree from St. Petersburg Junior College. She wanted to pursue a teaching degree but was talked out of it by friends because of the hiring freeze for teachers at the time. So she went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida and a paralegal degree from Tampa College, now Florida Metropolitan University.

After working for years as a paralegal in state probates and insurance defense, and waiting until her children, Caitlin and Patrick, had grown up, she decided to go back to school to train for the job she’d always wanted: to be a teacher.

“For my education certifications, SPC was the first and only choice,” she said. “They were local and I knew they had a great reputation. I talked to several people who had gone through the EPI program a long time ago and they said it was a good program.”

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Roxana Levin

Roxana Levin was nominated for the Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning (CETL) Faculty Spotlight because of her commitment to student learning, her work in being a pioneer in international studies program, and by serving as an inspiration for countless Spanish students. As an Instructor of Foreign Language at the Tarpon Springs Campus, she teaches Spanish  in face-to-face, online and blended formats.

Levin, who was born in Argentina, received her bachelor’s degree in Math Education from the Instituto del Profesorado Técnico in 1991. She studied at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel. She received her master’s degree in foreign language education from the University of South Florida in 1996.

CETL caught up with Levin to learn about teaching Spanish:


CETL: How did you get started in foreign language education?

Levin: My love of foreign languages started in elementary school in my native country of Argentina. I was very fortunate to attend schools in which studying other languages was an important part of our education. The high school I attended in Buenos Aires required students to study English or French, Hebrew, Yiddish and Spanish. We were so focused on language and culture, that we had the opportunity to get involved in exchange programs with schools from Chile, Uruguay, Brazil and Peru.  As soon as I graduated from high school, I was recruited to teach Hebrew at a bilingual school in Buenos Aires and I continued my foreign language education after I moved to Israel and enrolled in English courses at the University of Tel Aviv.


CETL: What prepared you for your faculty role?

Levin: Since an early age, I discovered that I had a fascination with both mathematics and foreign languages, which studies have shown to have a special relationship in the brain. Starting in my teen years I began to use my skills to tutor friends in math and foreign language classes.  This gave me immense satisfaction and I was convinced that I would become a teacher so I completed a bachelor’s degree in Math Education at the Profesorado Técnico of the City of Buenos Aires.  When I moved to the United States in 1990, I immediately decided that I wanted to continue my career in education, so I enrolled in a master’s program in foreign language education at the University of South Florida.  While I was studying my master’s program, I had the opportunity to teach Spanish and Hebrew at Hillel School of Tampa. I was subsequently offered a full-time Spanish position at Berkeley Preparatory school as soon as I graduated from USF. However, my true passion was in higher education so after teaching evening courses at HCC and SPC as an adjunct, I was very fortunate to be offered a full-time position at SPC to start the Spanish program at the Tarpon Springs Campus.


CETL: What new developments are happening in your field?

Levin: Every year, I attend the national conference of the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages. It is an amazing experience since thousands of language educators from around the world share their latest research regarding second language acquisition, the newest methodologies and technologies in the field. Technology and language learning go hand-in-hand since through the latest technologies, students are able to improve their language skills as well as immerse in the target language using YouTube videos, reading newspapers and websites in Spanish, communicating with people on Facebook and Twitter in their native languages, texting with friends using their new language skills, and many other social media and phone apps, which make learning another language very meaningful.


CETL: What are your biggest challenges in preparing students for the field of communications?

Levin: The biggest challenge in teaching students other languages is helping them to overcome their fear of speaking a different language in front of other people. Many students come to us with some background in language learning from high school; however, it is usually a negative experience since they were required to learn mainly the structures of the language instead of immersing the students in the language and the culture. Other students have in mind that they are too old to start learning a different language and feel that they will never be able to become bilingual or even to be proficient in a different language other than English. The process of “demystification” of foreign language education is a great challenge since it takes sometimes many weeks until students realize that anyone could learn another language; it takes motivation, discipline and determination.


CETL: What do your students seem to appreciate or enjoy about your class?

Levin: Students really enjoy the passion I bring into my classes. We sing in Spanish, we dance, we write poems in Spanish, we read children’s books in Spanish, we watch films in Spanish; we immerse ourselves in the language and the culture. They also appreciate all the opportunities they have to practice the target language with classmates as they are developing their speaking, reading, listening and reading skills. Students really like all the extracurricular activities I offer them as enrichment such as Spanish speaking films and Hispanic cultural events (concerts, festivals, visits to restaurants, etc.).


CETL: What teaching strategy do you find effective?

Levin: In my classes the students are fully involved in the language process; they learn while using the language. I believe that adults should learn another language as if they were children or teenagers through music, games, visuals, technology and other hands-on modalities. Each of my lesson plans presents many activities in which students are responsible to accomplish tasks individually, in pairs or in groups. Those activities include role-play, projects, presentations, information gap activities, surveys, etc. Through these kinds of activities, students are learning Spanish in a low-anxiety environment, which ensure great outcomes and enjoyment.


CETL: What are you most excited about regarding your faculty role?

Levin: Teaching is the most honorable and enriching profession. We have a chance to feed our students with knowledge as well as keep growing while we touch their lives. However, teaching and learning must go hand-in-hand in a very compassionate and lovable way. Students search for the meaning of life while they listen and learn from their “maestros” and mentors. We have been given the opportunity to guide them through that quest. I truly believe that is an honor for us to be given that chance to influence so many lives as we continue growing intellectually and emotionally.


CETL: What can students do to prepare for a career in your field?

Levin: Students really appreciate that they are able to communicate in the language after a few months and they are able to use the target language to talk to their Hispanic friends, to speak to customers at work, and to use the language when traveling in Spanish speaking countries. The importance of learning another language nowadays, in a time when globalization and international opportunities are so diverse and great, provides the students with the most important character trait to learn another language: self-motivation. One of the greatest experiences that students could embark on in higher education is the opportunity to participate in a study abroad program in which they are immersed in the language and culture. For the last six years, I have been leading SPC students in these immersion programs and I have seen the positive impact it has provided in their lives linguistically, personally and professionally. Many students who have participated in those programs continue their Spanish education and ensure that they will be able to use the language in their respective careers and professions. They understand that learning another language is an adventure that can open many doors. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart” – Nelson Mandela.


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Eleven years after the 9/11 attacks, a nationally acclaimed constitutional law attorney will explore how the response of America’s leaders to this and other national crises have impacted constitutional liberties in a multi-media presentation at the college.

Barry Richard, a Tallahassee lawyer who successfully led the legal defense team of George W. Bush in the contested 2000 presidential election, will speak on “Security, Pseudo-Patriotism and the Erosion of American Liberties” from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 12 in the Conference Center at the Seminole Campus.  His presentation is an examination of legislation proposed and passed in the name of national security from the nation’s founding to the post-9/11 era, with references to the writ of habeas corpus adapted by the Founding Fathers from 17th Century England.

The program is the second in St. Petersburg College’s new Village Square initiative, a town hall-type policy forum that explores topical issues over dinner, in an atmosphere free of political rancor or partisanship. The Village Square is sponsored by SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions. Co-sponsoring this presentation are The Tampa Bay Times and WUSF Public Media and WEDU.

Richard was named one of two Lawyers of the Year in 2001 by the National Law Journal, which also recognized him as one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.”  In representing Mr. Bush in the 2000 presidential election litigation, he managed 46 lawsuits and personally argued several critical cases on behalf of Mr. Bush. Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, he has been retained as special counsel to the Governor, the Florida Senate, the Florida House, Florida Attorney General, Secretary of State and Department of Insurance, among others.

Tickets for the event are $30 for Village Square members or $40 for non-members. Advance registration and payment are required, which can be done here.

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Surrounded by friends and gifts Tuesday, Madalen Wodsedalek celebrated her last day as an SPC volunteer in the Continuing Education Health department by donning one of her presents: a beige SPC hat that will be put to good use.

A registered nurse for decades, Madalen began volunteering for SPC in 1994, when she answered a request from CE Health Director Denise Kerwin at a retired nurses conference. Since then, she has assisted the group with curriculum, proofreading, evaluations, data entry and on-site conference registrations.

“She is one of the most phenomenal nurses you’d ever want to meet,” said Kerwin, herself an RN. “When she worked with our students, they got invaluable lessons from her.”

Over the years, Madalen also volunteered at her church, on her condominium board and at the Florida International Museum and by teaching reading and assisting her neighbors.

She said she remained at SPC so long “because I was treated so nicely.”

On Tuesday, CE Health employees got to return the favor.

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SPC students, staff and faculty are invited to an evening of discovery at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at 6-8 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 19. Free with student or employee ID.

The event will feature gallery tours of paintings, photography, contemporary glass, fine art crafts and the special exhibition A Modern Legacy: Contemporary Art from the Gulf Coast Museum Collection.

Pizza, soda and chips will be provided.

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