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.
Dubbed 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.”