Congratulations to the six St. Petersburg College faculty members chosen to receive the 2015 John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards from the League for Innovation in the Community College.
The League is an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to catalyzing the community college movement. It hosts conferences and institutes, develops Web resources, conducts research, produces publications, provides services, and leads projects and initiatives with member colleges, corporate partners, and other agencies in a continuing effort to make a positive difference for students and communities. The awards will be presented at the Innovations 2016 conference in Chicago in March.
The 2015 St. Petersburg College award winners are:
Dr. Christy Powers is the instructor-in-charge and longest-serving instructor in St. Petersburg College’s legal studies bachelor’s program.
Powers began her education in the south suburbs of Chicago at Moraine Valley Community College. From there, she earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of St. Francis and her Juris Doctor and Masters of Law in Employee Benefits from Chicago’s John Marshall Law School. She began her legal career with the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration.
For the past 10 years she has worked to help her students find their own passion in the law. Inspired by professors that mentored her in college, she is committed to providing individual advising and coaching to help her students balance their education, life and career goals. Her students know she has a personal, vested interest in their well being in and out of the classroom.
One of her most popular classes prepares students for the national voluntary paralegal certification exam. The most challenging portion of the test involves an analytical writing project. Powers has developed a practice methodology which involves working through a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the facts and construction of the memorandum. Students thrive with this kind of immediate feedback and application. Using this technique and applying it to the introduction course in the paralegal program has empowered students to deal with original source materials, statutes, regulations and cases in their first class.
Powers also developed a program for all SPC students who have a criminal background, workplace issues or other barriers to employment. She often delivers campus lectures to help students develop a narrative to explain their past errors and what they had learned from those experiences. She serves as both a life coach and a professional coach for many students.
Jennifer Fernandes, assistant professor of biology, teaches at St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs Campus, where she uses a variety of strategies to help increase student engagement and success rates. In her Field Biology course, she incorporates active learning where students spend every Friday exploring Florida ecosystems and learning material by experience versus just seeing pictures in books. Recent outings have included hiking through hammock and scrub ecosystems, snorkeling in the Florida springs with manatees, kayaking through mangrove habitats and the springs, snorkeling on the coral reef and camping in many different upland environments. Each semester students go on a weekend trip to Key Largo to hike through the Everglades and learn about sea turtles, their conservation and what they can do to help.
Students also participate in service learning projects either by removing invasive species, creating oyster domes or planting sea oats. Fernandes has developed a relationship with Tampa Bay Watch and takes her students on a field trip every semester to learn about their mission and help them accomplish it.
Her Field Biology of Florida and Study Abroad Bonaire classes have worked with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) to help restore coral reefs and earning a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certification that enables them to join CRF projects around the world. Every semester since the inception of this model, there has been a 100 percent student success rate. She believes this is due to the nature of the course and the active learning that takes place during the class.
Her development of an innovative tutoring program has greatly increased the success rates and reduced withdrawal rates in Biology I, a required class for all science majors that has historically been a challenge for students to pass. Students are required to attend weekly supplemental instruction sessions led by college staff and student tutors. For these sessions, Fernandes created worksheets and jeopardy games for the tutors to do with the students and to answer any questions on material they may not have understood during class. As a result, the students have a better understanding of the material and go on to be very successful in other science courses.
Wende Huehn-Brown has taught business at St. Petersburg College since 2007. She has a Ph.D. in Engineering Management with a B.S. and M.E. in Industrial Engineering, as well as 20 years of professional experience. When she joined the college, she quickly realized one of her biggest challenges would be teaching business courses in analytical fields online. She is responsible for seven master courses within Operations and Supply Chain Management disciplines, as well as the Senior Capstone focused on Strategic Management. Her subject matter expertise and experience help students prepare for their business career.
Her advanced instructional design technology skills enable her to solve online issues for her students. She also uses VoIP, messaging and video meetings to stay connected and responsive to her students. Her weekly reflection videos on key concepts, a series of pencasts and desktop-recorded videos on completing analytical methods, her use technology like a smartpen, Camtasia, Powtoon, YouTube, and many other resources provide her students with online learning in a mobile friendly format. Additionally she mastered a learning management system implementing rigorous course learning objectives using best practices, as well as encouraging students to learn the technology (including Turnitin) to enhance their success.
In just one course, she has more than 50 pencasts and 40 desktop-recorded videos on math problems, as well as four desktop-recorded videos on navigation and study tips, five PowToon animated videos on weekly reflection points, seven recorded lectures that use a business scenario she wrote to tie together each week’s lessons, nine assessments (including on the syllabus) and more. This has resulted in online student success for this one course going from 57 percent in 2013 to 78 percent in 2015. These students advance to perform at a high level at capstone, which requires this discipline, where industry best students proceed to a global competition and 56 percent of our students rank in the top three.
Nathan Muehl serves as Band/Orchestra Director and teaches music courses at St. Petersburg College. Over the past year, he has restructured the Music Theory I-IV courses to feature a text-neutral delivery system. This objectives-based approach allows students to choose their own learning resources tailored to their learning style and budget. It creates a truly personalized learning experience. The results include higher levels of student engagement, more thorough achievement of course concepts, easier customization for accommodations, and students working at an improved pace. While each student in the course may be using different learning resources, the experience is not cumbersome to the instructor, and the approach is instantly adaptable and welcoming of new technologies as they are invented.
Muehl’s research interests include organizational motivation and morale. He currently serves as co-chair of the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Mission and Vision Statement Committee. His personal mission statement is to “live a life of integrity, high trust and continual improvement; balanced between my roles as a husband, a musician and a teacher.”
Roxana Levin has developed the Spanish program at St. Petersburg College including the blended program at the Tarpon Springs Campus. She spends much time online working with her students and coaching them through the use of software to help them reach proficiency. She constantly looks for innovative ways to improve the level of engagement with her online students. She engages the students in oral production and ensures that students develop all the skills of the language. She has also been an advocate of embedding culture in her online courses by providing many opportunities for students to immerse in the culture virtually as well as engaging them in out of class cultural events. Levin has been instrumental in bringing an innovative new online Spanish program to the college and is working on the redevelopment of the existing ones.
Professor Levin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education from Argentina and a Master’s degree in Foreign Language Education from the University of South Florida. She has been the lead faculty for the Ecuador and Spain study abroad programs for 10 years and is the advisor of Latinos United Club at the Tarpon Springs Campus.
Rosaria Pipitone graduated with her M.A. from University of South Florida’s Counselor Education with a concentration in Career in 2009. Originally from New York City, Rosaria relocated to Tampa to enroll in USF’s program as it is one of only eight programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program that offers career as a concentration. During her graduate program, she was hired as a career consultant at USF’s College of Nursing to work with unemployed veterans. While working at USF she focused on embedding career services into the classroom where she could teach career development to a captive audience. Her Career Services Infusion model was well-received when presented at the 2013 National Career Development Association conference in Boston. In 2013, she authored two chapters, Resume Writing and Job Shadowing, in the text Career Development for Today: A holistic and inclusive approach.
In 2013 she was hired as a Career Outreach Specialist at St. Petersburg College where she successfully introduced the concept of the Career Service Infusion Model. The model was adapted to meet the needs of the students, faculty and academic programs at SPC. During this time she successfully integrated employment preparation workshops for students in the music department.
Rosaria underwent the Career Development Facilitator Instructor (CDFI) certification in 2015 and will be certifying SPC’s student support service staff as Career Development Facilitator’s (CDF). In addition, to her role in career services, Rosaria also teaches Legal Issues in Music course for SPC’s Music Industry/Recording Arts (MIRA) program.
By the age of 30, Rosaria has traveled throughout the United States and Europe as a lead coordinator for Envirosell marketing firm, providing her with the opportunity to utilize her interpreting skills with international Fortune 500 companies. Rosaria was recently recognized by the United Nation’s #iamwoman campaign for her ability to overcome economic obstacles as first-generation American. Raised in an Italian household, Rosaria is fortunate to be bilingual and enjoys her yearly family visits to Italy.