Archive for the ‘teachers’ Category

St. Petersburg College Early Childhood Education students, faculty and local professionals will attend an innovative workshop that trains teachers to use active, arts-based experiences to teach preschoolers about science, technology, engineering and math.

Funded by an SPC Innovation Grant, the workshops will have an immediate impact on the children in one local Head Start Center and continue to impact future teachers as SPC begins to implement the new method into their Early Childhood classes as early as this fall.

“We want to make sure everyone is aware of scholarly research on STEM to meet the unique needs of children in their setting,” said Anne Ryan, SPC professor and coordinator of Early Childhood A.S. degree program. “To me this is the incubator. We want to generate new ideas that get children excited to learn.”

Workshop for Professionals

On March 3-7, a Teaching Artist from the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts will spend the week with about 70 3-4 year olds and their teachers at a Tarpon Springs Head Start Center.

In anticipation of the art that these children will develop, highlights from the Wolf Trap program will be displayed at the Leepa-Rattner Museum during the month of September.

Workshop for SPC students and faculty

Students and faculty in SPC’s Early Childhood Education program can also learn about teaching STEM through the arts at a workshop on Thursday, March 6, 6-9 p.m. in the teaching auditorium at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. Contact Anne Ryan to reserve your spot as space is limited. If space is available, the program will also be open to local early childhood professionals seeking continuing education credit.

SPC Early Childhood Education Program

SPC’s Early Childhood Education program serves students currently working in the early childhood field or those preparing for a career. The program is designed to give students a smooth transition from certificate to associate degree to bachelors degree.

“Well meet them where they are in their early childhood career and help them reach their next goal,” said Ryan.

Other Upcoming Early Childhood events

Early Care and Education Conference – Preschool Track
Saturday, April 26, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

SPC Week – Early Childhood Info Sessions
Wednesday, March 5, 4 and 6 p.m.
St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

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SPC College of Education alumna Katelyn Pilsbury

Katelyn Pilsbury

SPC College of Education grad Katelyn Pilsbury has been named Florida’s Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Rookie Teacher of the Year. The award, given annually by the Florida Council for Exceptional Children, honors the state’s best new ESE teacher during their first three years of work.

Pilsbury, 25, is a full-time Autistic Spectrum Disorder kindergarten teacher at Plumb Elementary School in Clearwater. She emotionally recounted how her principal last year, Seymour Brown III, told her that she was the first teacher he had nominated for this award in 30 years.

“I always knew I’d be a good teacher and love my students,” said Pilsbury. “But I never thought I’d be a teacher that would win an award for what I did.”

This year’s winner will be announced at an awards dinner on Friday, Oct. 18.

Preparing for success

Pilsbury completed a bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education (K-12) with a certification in Elementary Education with ESOL and Reading Endorsements at SPC. This summer, she also completed her Autism endorsement at SPC.

“I had personal relationships with my SPC teachers,” said Pilsbury. “They cared about me. If I didn’t get something they took the time to really explain it.”

In the classroom

Currently in her second year of teaching at Plumb Elementary, Pinellas County’s largest elementary school, Pilsbury leads a team of two ESE associates to provide the individual attention the six children, all boys, in their class require. Today’s lesson was focused on the difference between day and night.

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In the classroom Learning about Whole Body Language Spelling my name

“What do you see in the day?” she said slowly. “Yes, the sun. What color is the sun? Yes, the sun is yellow.”

The cadence in her voice and simple repetitive phrasing have a calming effect on the children. Her classroom is cheerful, orderly and filled with bulletin boards and learning resources specifically designed to help autistic students learn. They each have their own color chair.

“Caden, sit in the green chair,” she says.

He comes back, sits down and the lesson continues. In this class, the lesson is as much about staying focused, following directions and listening as it is about the sun, the moon and the stars.

SPC Education Internships

All College of Education students at SPC are given extensive experience in public schools including diverse placements in elementary, middle and high schools. The role veteran educators’ play in coming alongside new teachers like Pilsbury is priceless.

“I learned so much in my final internships,” Pilsbury said. “That was when I really knew I was ready to be a teacher and have my own class.”

Her final internship was at Blanton Elementary School, where she was mentored by veteran teacher Kathleen Hehn in a K-2 classroom for Independent Varying Exceptionalities (IVE). The Kindergarten-Grade 2 children in her class had a variety of special needs stemming from Traumatic Brain Injuries, Seizure Disorders and Downs Syndrome.

Hands on learning

In her first year of teaching, Pilsbury worked with funding from USF’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) to plant a garden on campus that the kids worked in. The produce stand they created brought a new level of excitement and learning to her class.

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Hands on learning project pelican Hands on learning project

“They were exchanging money and communicating with others,” she said. “They said things like ‘What would you like?’ It was so exciting.”

She is applying for grants for the same project again this year in partnership with CARD, the Partnership for Effective Programs for Students with Autism (PEPSA) and The Florida Farm Bureau.

Local CEC chapter hosts state conference

Pilsbury was the winner of the local version of the same award in April. Since that time, she also was named Vice President of the Suncoast 176 Chapter of the CEC.

She and a team of other members of the local chapter are busy finalizing plans to host this year’s Florida CEC Annual Conference, Going to Bat for Kids, Oct. 17-19 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront.

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Elizabeth Rasmussen

Elizabeth Rasmussen

St. Petersburg College alumna Elizabeth Rasmussen was one of 48 teachers from around the country chosen to study at Georgetown University this summer as a James Madison Graduate Fellowship recipient.

“The James Madison Fellowship is in many ways one of the greatest honors a social studies teacher can earn. I was in shock, and I still am sometimes, that I earned such an honor,” said Elizabeth, 27, a ninth and 12th grade social studies teacher at Fort Meade Middle Senior High School in Polk County. “In a way it was validation to all the hard work that I have poured into my career since Day 1. I have always strived to grow and learn from mistakes and be better than I was before.

Elizabeth was one of two fellows from Florida. She is a master’s degree student at the University of South Florida studying curriculum and instruction with a concentration in secondary education. The fellowship funds up to $24,000 of her study costs. As part of the fellowship, she studied at the Foundations of Constitutionalism at Georgetown University for a month this summer.

“I got to partake in a number of amazing experiences such as debating a mock Supreme Court case in front of a Federal Court Judge, visiting a number of historic sites such as Mount Vernon and Monticello, and visiting the U.S. Supreme Court on the day of the historic DOMA and Prop 8 decisions,” she said. She also was able to meet Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Elizabeth said SPC had a significant impact on her education.

“I can honestly say that I remember more professors from my experience at SPC than that of any other college experience,” she said. “That is not to say I had bad professors at the other schools, but at SPC Seminole, my instructors were more concerned about me as a person and not as a number.”

As a homeschooler, Elizabeth got her start in college at age 16 when she dual-enrolled at SPC .

“By this point in my academic career, regular high school curriculum was not challenging me, and my parents and family thought dual-enrollment would be my best option,” Elizabeth said. “The opportunity to earn college credit while in high school was also a motivating factor.”

By the time she graduated high school in 2004, she had earned 38 credits toward her Associate in Arts degree. She graduated from SPC in May 2005 and was a finalist for the Apollo Award, the college’s highest honor for lower division students. She then graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in education-social science education from the University of North Florida in 2007. She plans to pursue a doctorate in education and to eventually teach college one day.

“I firmly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t attended SPC,” she said. “SPC taught me at an early age to shoot for my dreams and that nothing was ever impossible if I worked hard and tried.”

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St. Petersburg College was mentioned in a report by the Tampa Tribune about the challenges Pinellas County teachers, particularly new teachers, face in the upcoming school year.

“Although the school district is requiring all teachers to go through Common Core training with their schools, many new college graduates may be better suited for the shift in teaching, which focuses more on reading and writing and expects students to be able to defend their answers,” according to the article, which noted that SPC already teaches to the Common Core.

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993937_10151936538538368_1322746859_n-1Do you have a bachelor’s degree or higher and want to teach?

Join St. Petersburg College at an information session on Wednesday, June 12, 5:30-6:30 p.m. for the Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) – a one-year professional teacher certification program for professionals with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

SPC’s state-approved Educator Preparation Institute is a sequential, three-semester program leading to Florida Professional Certification. The Institute is primarily for students with a non-education bachelor’s degree or higher who want to become Florida certified teachers.

This session will be held at the Clearwater Campus in the (ES) building room 104. Financial Aid now available. Please RSVP online or call 727-791-2521 for more information.

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Liza Ryan

Liza Ryan

In the spring term, Liza Ryan, adjunct faculty of Natural Science at the St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus, read an article about integrating music in the classroom and saw it as an opportunity to help students contribute to the classroom experience. She decided to experiment with how she could utilize this new learning tool in her own classroom.

“Being a science teacher, I didn’t see immediately how I could meet this challenge,” said Liza Ryan, who thought about how she could apply this modality to her own classroom. “I had a BSC 1005 Biology for non-science major class that semester, which provided me with an opportunity.”

Students soon began to take interest, including Dean Brown, who has a passion for music.

“I asked Dean if he could provide me with a couple of songs that I could play before class and during our 10 minute break,” Ryan said. Dean obliged and sent two songs that she then played for the students. “Dean continued to send me new songs each week and built a library of ‘biomusic’ over the course of the semester. At least one of the arrangements was created by Dean himself.”

Other students began to contribute to the classroom experience in a variety of ways:

  • Justin Hagerty, a poet, wrote lyrics for Brown’s compositions.
  • Jennifer Thorp, an American Sign Language interpretation major, signed the poems for the class.
  • Catherine MacDowall, a vegan, gave a presentation on genetically modified foods.
  • Christina Synodis, whose goal is to become a college professor, served as the instructor’s right-hand assistant with the course and the classroom experiment.

The classroom experiment continued to grow to include everyone in the class, finally culminating in a website that was created by Lisa Milian, a technology management major. The site houses students’ contributions and includes some student projects and Top 5 Facebook Posts from the students’ required weekly posts.

“It was very difficult to choose because the students did such a tremendous job that there were so many incredible articles and information to choose among,” Ryan said.

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Katelyn Sovocool and Principal Seymour Brown III from the Plumb Elementary School

St. Petersburg College alumna Katelyn Sovocool has been named the winner of the Jack R. Lamb ESE Rookie Teacher of the Year district award from the Suncoast 176 Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

The announcement was made at the CEC Chapter 176 Spring Banquet held at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on April 25.

Sovocool, 24, is a full-time Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) kindergarten teacher at Plumb Elementary School in Clearwater. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education (K-12) with a certification in Elementary Education with ESOL and Reading Endorsements at SPC.

“SPC helped me prepare to reach my dreams of becoming an educator by providing me with a quality education and an unsurpassable experience in the educational field,” Sovocool said in a recent interview. She hopes to make a difference through her career by providing each of her students with the highest quality education possible.

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378a4823de389869ec64851927294b48The seed is planted.  “You should be a teacher,” someone says.

You’ve heard this phrase. You’ve thought this idea many times over the years. But is the dream possible? Don’t let your questions about teaching linger any longer. Attend an Information Session about SPC’s Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the Clearwater Campus, ES 104, 2465 Drew St.

The EPI is an accelerated, hands-on program involving online and evening coursework along with PreK – 12 practical instruction. Teacher candidates work with master educators to craft their knowledge and skills to satisfy rigorous state and district requirements for professional licensure. Applications are being accepted now for the summer.

If you plan to attend the information session, please RSVP online or call Pat Roper at 727-791-2521.

Start today and teach tomorrow!

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On Wednesday, Jan. 23, a panel representing four key stakeholder groups will discuss changes to the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT). The event will be 6-8 p.m. at the Seminole Campus Conference Center and is part of the college’s Village Square initiative. To attend, register online.

Since the late 1990s, the FCAT has been the standard for measuring classroom and student success. As the test evolved, teachers and principals felt increasing stress as performance evaluations and grades of individual schools were based on FCAT results.

Gov. Rick Scott vowed to make education a priority in the 2013 session of the Legislature and to stop making changes to education. “The system is tired of change, just constant change,” he said. He also declared his intention to put a hold on new testing requirements for students and promised there would be “no war on teachers” next year.

A panel representing four key stakeholder groups will offer a timely examination of this issue. The group includes:

  • Michael A. Grego, Superintendent, Pinellas County Schools
  • Joanne McCall, Vice President, Florida Education Association
  • Mindy Haas, President-Elect, Florida PTA
  • Douglas Tuthill, President, Step Up for Students.

Bill Heller, Dean of the College of Education at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, will serve as moderator.

Village Square programs begin with dinner, followed by the featured presentation and conclude with a question-and-answer session. Registration is required. $30 for Village Square members and educators, $40 for non-members.

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College student Sarah Fechtel and Professor Marilyn Michael, both at SPC, were featured in a story posted on 83 Degrees about emerging opera stars training in the Tampa Bay area.

In September, Fechtel performed at Opera at the Dali, a collaboration between the college and the Dali Museum on the third Thursday evening of the month, the article reported. The performances highlight the talents of Michael’s young opera students.

“We’re lucky to have such wonderful students who are very serious and focused and who want to sing classical music. It’s really the best kept secret,” Michael said in the article. The college offers students a two-year associate’s degree in vocal performance. Most students go on to earn their baccalaureate degree and then their master’s, Michael said.

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