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Archive for the ‘education’ Category

St. Petersburg College (SPC) President Bill Law and multiple SPC students gathered on Tuesday, May 23 to speak about the impacts of budget cuts imposed by the Florida state Legislature.

Community-College-Budget-CutsThe Legislature’s 2017-18 budget includes a $25 million reduction in funding for the Florida College System’s 28 community colleges, which includes a budget reduction of $1.8 million in funding for SPC.

Reduced funding may result in fewer class offerings and a decrease in the scope of student support measures like tutoring and integrated career and academic advising. Both could cause a delay in students finishing their degrees. The move comes at a time when community college enrollment in Florida has dropped due to an improved economy, which has already caused a decrease in tuition revenue.

“Delaying that graduation makes life very difficult for everyone. When we are in the middle of a recession, enrollment peaks. When people can’t find jobs, they come back to college.” Law said. “When money is coming back to the state, it’s hard for us to understand why the state wouldn’t find a way to put a few dollars in the Florida College System and keep us whole – keep us moving forward and let us do the good work we do to serve Pinellas County.”

Law and students urged Florida Gov. Rick Scott to veto the budget cut.

“Governor Rick Scott should veto the budget items affecting community colleges and send it back to the Legislature to have $25 million in cuts for community colleges restored for the school year of 2017-18,” said Tracy Pham, 16, Vice President of the Student Government Association on the college’s Seminole Campus.

Students said they see an inequality in the funding provided to state universities. As the Legislature cut $25 million from community colleges, it is investing an additional $232 million into state universities in 2017-18.

All students cannot afford the cost of universities, said student Nathyn Montagano, 29. St. Petersburg College’s tuition is roughly half that of state universities in Florida.

“To ask us to put ourselves into six figures worth of debt before we even enter the workforce, I mean, that’s quite the burden you’re asking us to put on ourselves,” said Montagano, who serves as Parliamentarian of the Student Government Association on the Gibbs Campus.

SPC has worked diligently to increase student success rates through additional tutoring and integrated career and academic advising to ensure that students gain skills they need to find gainful employment.

“At St. Petersburg College, we’ve made major commitments to supporting our students in our learning support centers, where students can get tutoring and help outside of classes for virtually any subject that they study in,” Law said. “And our data clearly shows that students who are engaged in out-of-class support are more likely to be successful. Any reduction in funding that threatens those support systems is detrimental to students.”

Community-College-Budget-CutsSPC, which serves thousands of military veterans each year, is nationally recognized for its veterans’ services. Brandon Smith, 31, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and President of the Student Veteran’s Association, said he worries that the decreased funding may force the college to scale back its work with veterans who are eager to return to the workforce.

“We are a community college. We come out here and transition from the military and go to school and get a job in the community. Cutting funds is bad for business…If it’s bad for business, it’s bad for veterans,” Smith said. “From your EMS workers to policemen to trade jobs like plumbers, mechanics and anything else you need, you get them from a community college. And you want to cut that? I don’t think that’s a good idea at all.”

Fatma Hedeia, 55, President of the Student Government Association on SPC’s Clearwater Campus, said she feared a decrease in class offerings, which will negatively impact SPC’s large population of part-time college students who require access to flexible scheduling options in order to juggle additional demands at work and home. She implored Gov. Scott to send the budget back to the Legislature to restore the funding.

“Cutting the budget is really going to hurt a lot of us. Not just the high school kids coming to school, but the people who are older and trying to go back to school,” Hedeia said. “Governor Scott, you’ve got to veto this bill, send it back and make them redo it.”

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From left: Dr. Marcie Biddleman, Executive Director, Juvenile Welfare Board; Dr. Bill Law, SPC President; Maria Edmonds, Chair, Juvenile Welfare Board; Robert J. Fine, Jr., Chairman, SPC Board of Trustees.

From left: Dr. Marcie Biddleman, Executive Director, Juvenile Welfare Board; Dr. Bill Law, SPC President; Maria Edmonds, Chair, Juvenile Welfare Board; Robert J. Fine, Jr., Chairman, SPC Board of Trustees.

At St. Petersburg College’s Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, June 16, officials from SPC and the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County announced a new partnership to strengthen training for early childcare professionals and better prepare young learners.

jwb-logoOfficials with SPC’s College of Education and the SPC Foundation worked with the Juvenile Welfare Board (JWB) to develop the partnership, in which JWB is providing $54,000 to fund 30 scholarships for students to earn certificates through the college’s Early Childhood Education program. The intent is to improve school readiness rates and close achievement gaps by preparing local childcare workers to provide high quality early childhood education.

“This is an excellent opportunity and excellent demonstration of partnerships that we have going,” said Dr. Marcie Biddleman, Executive Director, Juvenile Welfare Board. “It’s special because it’s St Petersburg College. We have a lot of children in our early learning programs, and they will not get to St Petersburg College for their education if we can’t get them started right. Hopefully this will be a continuation of educated citizens that will make a difference here in Pinellas County.”

Scholarships will be available for childcare workers currently working 20 hours or more in licensed early childcare centers (residential or commercial) in Pinellas County (as identified by JWB). The scholarships will fund up to 12 credit hours for classes taken on the Clearwater Campus, to prepare the students toward a certificate in early childcare development, with specializations in Infants and Toddlers or Preschool. Both 12-hour certificates can be counted toward SPC’s Early Childhood Education A.S. degree.

“The benefits and the value of this partnership will extend far beyond the student recipients, as they go back to their workplace and better prepare our earliest learners,” said Frances Neu, Executive Director, SPC Foundation. “Then we’ll see the real benefits,” she said.

Former SPC Associate Provost Maria Edmonds, who now chairs the Juvenile Welfare Board, called the agreement her dream.

“It is my pleasure that we have this collaboration,” Edmonds said. “We need more of these partnerships in our community. One individual or one organization alone cannot do it, but together we can do a lot.”

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Early Childhood Partnership

St. Petersburg College President Bill Law, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg City Council Member Karl Nurse and SPC BOT Chairman Robert Fine, Jr.

 

At St. Petersburg College’s Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, April 21, officials from the college and the City of St. Petersburg announced a new partnership to bolster training for early childcare professionals within designated areas of the city.

Officials with the SPC College of Education and the SPC Foundation worked with the City to develop the partnership, in which the city is contributing $49,200 that will be used to fund tuition scholarships for SPC’s Early Childhood Education program. The aim is to help improve school readiness rates and close achievement gaps by preparing local childcare workers to provide high quality early childhood education.

“With this, we will be able to educate those who are working with our youngest residents to establish a foundation for learning, with the intent that this foundation will carry over to their K-12 experience, improve their readiness and improve their success,” said Frances Neu, Executive Director, SPC Foundation. “This partnership is truly exciting as it has all the components to be a model for leaders in our community to come together to solve a problem that affects us all.”

Scholarships will be available for 30 individuals who are currently working 20 hours per week or more in licensed early childhood care centers (residential or commercial) within the following zip codes: 33701, 33705, 33711 and 33712. The scholarships will fund 12 credit hours to prepare the students toward a certificate in early childcare development, with a specialization in preschool education.

“What’s exciting about this is that it’s not just the 30 students that will learn, it’s the hundreds of students – little, little students – that they will be able to better teach,” said St. Petersburg City Council Member Karl Nurse, who spearheaded the effort for the city. “So as we shift the focus on younger and younger students, it’s exciting to have a college like SPC that is so innovative and understands the powerful impact you can have.”

Contact the College of Education at 727-791-2521 for more information.

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St. Petersburg College’s (SPC) College of Education (COE) has been awarded a three-year, $5 million grant from the Florida Department of Education that will be used to restructure SPC’s College of Education elementary education programs.

TeachingDubbed the St. Petersburg College Centers of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation, the program is a joint partnership between SPC and Pinellas County Schools, in collaboration with The New Teacher Project and Learning Sciences International. SPC is the only state college in Florida to receive the grant and was one of only four recipients statewide.

“This project is going to completely transform our elementary teacher preparation model at St. Petersburg College, which will in turn have enormous impact on Pinellas County students,” said St. Petersburg College President Bill Law. “We know that student achievement is inextricably linked to the effectiveness of the teacher in the classroom. This partnership will ensure our students receive the knowledge, experience and coaching necessary to become highly effective teachers equipped to increase the learning gains of their students.”

Through revamped and expanded curriculum, future teachers will gain a deeper knowledge of core subjects, with an increase in the number of required content-specific courses focused on math, science, and social studies. Additionally, they will take on richer and longer field experiences in the classroom, and learn through research-based approaches that incorporate coaching best practices and real-world teacher evaluation models.

“The College of Education is honored to be the recipient of the FLDOE Centers of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation grant,” said Dr. Kimberly J. Hartman, Dean of the College of Education. “The redesign of the COE elementary education program will prepare our graduates to increase K-5 student learning and to be the most adept elementary educators in the state.”

SPC has long been a model for preparing qualified teachers: it was the first college in the Florida College System to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. More recently, St. Petersburg College responded to a request from Dr. Michael A. Grego, Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools, to improve the pipeline of effective teachers by developing the Elite Educator Program. While the Elite Educator Program focuses on the first two years of study, the new Centers of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation will expand on this partnership by focusing on the final two years of the bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

As nearly two-thirds of SPC’s Elementary Education bachelor’s degree graduates go to work for Pinellas County Schools, officials expect that K-5 student achievement will be substantially impacted.

“Pinellas County Schools is pleased to build on its strong partnership with St. Petersburg College to prepare future teachers for the classroom,” said Dr. Grego. “This project will help provide new teachers the resources, experience and feedback they need to be effective and to support student achievement.”

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Tampa Bay area educators attend the Florida Standards training at the Clearwater Campus.

Tampa Bay area educators attend the Florida Standards training at the Clearwater Campus.

St. Petersburg College held a Florida Standards training session earlier this week for nearly 75 teachers and school administrators from the Tampa Bay area. The professional development event, held at the Clearwater Campus, was part of a $7.2 million Florida Department of Education grant.

The grant supports the successful implementation of the Florida Standards, the state’s academic content standards for K-12 students. The standards were designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to be ready for careers and college-level coursework.

Indian River State College is the lead institution on the grant, which was awarded to 11 state colleges and two state universities. Together, the institutions will deliver professional development on instructional tools that implement the Florida Standards.

SPC received $325,000 under the grant to develop training on the Interim Assessment Item Bank, which will give teachers a valid and reliable way to diagnose strengths and weaknesses, predict difficulties, set instructional goals, and monitor learning.

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St. Petersburg College is partnering with Complete Florida, an online initiative designed to help adults, veterans and active duty military personnel finish their college degree. In Florida, about 2.2 million adults, or 20 percent of adults over 25, have earned some college credit but have not completed their degree.

9GODhDmj_400x400With the majority of future jobs in Florida expected to require training beyond high school, Complete Florida is focused on increasing the number of Floridians with a postsecondary credential. It is widely estimated that by 2018, nearly 60 percent of jobs in Florida will require postsecondary credentials beyond a high school diploma. Currently, 35 percent of the state’s adults have an associate degree or higher.

Created and funded by the Florida Legislature, the initiative is a joint effort between the State University System of Florida and the Florida College System to address the critical education gap while giving priority to veterans and active duty military.

“Complete Florida’s goal is to get adults back to school and help them meet their educational and professional goals through personalized coaching, concierge-based wraparound support systems and accelerated program completion,” said Pam Northrup, Executive Director of UWF’s Innovation Institute. “Ultimately, we want to connect graduates with job opportunities in Florida.”

Led by the University of West Florida’s Innovation Institute, Complete Florida offers 50 fully online, flexible and accelerated degree programs and certificates. All programs align with high-wage, high-skill workforce needs in the areas of information technology, health care, business, education and general studies. Currently, 11 state and private institutions in Florida are partnering in Complete Florida.

As part of Complete Florida, SPC received a $100,000 grant to help devise ways to incorporate prior-learning assessments, competency-based learning and advising into the delivery and support service model for students to succeed.

Coaching and extensive support systems are the backbones of the Complete Florida program. Personal coaches act as student advocates working to integrate students’ existing college credit and prior learning experiences into their program of study. Complete Florida’s personal learning coaches help students fit courses into busy schedules and align skills and interests to programs and jobs, putting them on a personalized path to a college degree.

For now, SPC offers the following programs through Complete Florida and plans to add more:

Scholarships and financial aid opportunities are available for qualified students. For additional information on Complete Florida, visit http://www.completeflorida.org.

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From the Tampa Tribune

The Suncoast News and the Tampa Tribune featured an information session for the Elite Educator Program that was held at the college’s Tarpon Spring Campus on July 10.

The program is a partnership between SPC and Pinellas County Schools to prepare teachers to teach grades K-6 and provides an endorsement in ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Reading.

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