All posts by Tara Newsom

Empty Bowls fills hearts for over 16 years….

Empty Bowls began in 1990 in Bloomfield Hills, MI by John Hartom, a high school teacher, his wife Lisa and his students as a way to support a local food drive. One year later Empty Bowls developed into a project to support food banks, soup kitchens and other organizations fighting hunger. John and Lisa formed the Imagine/Render group as a nonprofit organization to promote Empty Bowls and over the next 20 plus years, Empty Bowls has spread across the United States and other parts of the world.

St. Petersburg College Ceramics faculty and students, along with local business partner Highwater Clays, are putting on an Empty Bowls luncheon on November 12, from 11 AM to 2 PM, to benefit RCS Pinellas. The luncheon will feature soup served handmade bowls, made by SPC students, faculty and local artists. Attendees will choose a bowl and enjoy a meal of soup, bread and dessert. The bowl is your s to take home as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.
Through this event we are helping our students to see that they can make positive change through their art making, and make a big impact in their local community.
This event is to raise funds for RCS, which provides food to 60,000 residents of Clearwater, 17,000 of whom are children.

We invite you to attend this fundraiser event, Tickets are available at the door or in advance at
The event will take place on Saturday, November 12, 2016.
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
St. Petersburg College
Clearwater Campus
Room ES 104

2465 Drew Street, Clearwater, FL 33765.
If you have any questions or would like to help, please contact Jonathan Barnes, at

“Through Our Eyes: Midtown and Beyond”

Over 12 days this summer, with cameras and notebooks in hand, the student journalists explored the Midtown neighborhood in St. Petersburg through a series of field trips. Students documented everything from a drum line at a neighborhood church to a mansion being built in the heart of the neighborhood. Through this exhibit of 100 photos, you’ll truly see Midtown through their eyes.

This is photography project of Melrose Elementary and John Hopkins Middle School Students.

SPC students mentor at both of these schools.unknown-4

Get Off Your Soapbox: The Art of Dialogue

SPC & USF students collaborated for two Friday workshops on the need to foster civil and civic dialogue. SPC & USF faculty collaborated to share with students from both institutions the importance of mindful civic conversation. Workshop attendee’s focused on how divisive individual positions often typified by the proverbial “soapbox” can be and how important maintaining the integrity of public discourse. unknown-7 unknown-8 unknown-3 unknown-2

Exploration of art , both performance art and multi-media, as a means to foster peaceful and meaningful civic conversation culminated in student developed art that expressed their views. SPC’s professors, Dr. Scott Cooper & Dr. Tara Newsom,as well as USFSP faculty, Dr. Judith Ann Mclauchlin & Ann Aykell contextualized the importance of civil and civic discussion. USFSP Art faculty facilitated the hands on art project.

SPC students roll up their sleeves at the St.Pete Free Clinic

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Who says college students like to take Friday’s off? Not SPC students who arrived bright and early last Friday, October 21st to help out at the St.Pete Free Clinic’s family residence. From organizing the linen closet for the multiplex home that assists families in transition to cleaning out the garage, SPC students didn’t shy away from helping their neighbors make their home more comfortable.

SPC Welcomes 120 New U.S. Citizens

On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed by delegates in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In recognition of this historic event SPC will be hosting a Naturalization Ceremony on the Clearwater Campus at 10:00 am, Friday, September 16th in the Fine Arts Auditorium.

Please join us in welcoming over 120 new American citizens from all over the world as they take this monumental step in our Constitutional legacy.

The Oath of Allegiance will be administered by the Honorable Elizabeth A. Kovachevich, United States District Judge. Our own students will offer a welcome to our visitors, sing the National Anthem and lead the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Following the ceremony we will have an Information Session presented by Donald Jarrell, a Community Relations Officer, for the United States Citizenship Immigration Services. The information session will take place in the ES Building, room 127 and last approximately one hour. Officer Jarrell will review the entire process of becoming a United States Citizen.

Dr. Suzanne Preston organized this meaningful event. Dr. Preston also developed & teaches the Citizenship Ambassador classes where SPC Student Ambassadors help hopeful U.S. Citizens prepare for the Citizenship test. Each of these sessions offers our students a unique opportunity to learn about Citizenship.

Local Artist Derek Donnelly depicts SPC student’s journey with large scale Public Art Project on Gibbs campus

Artist Derek Donnelly is a Florida native and grew up in St. Petersburg Fl. He graduated from PCCA (Pinellas County Center for the Arts) at Gibbs High school in 2001. Donnelly has produced murals for AARP, Achieva Credit Union and countless local businesses and organizations throughout the Tampa Bay area. He continues to create large scale beautification projects with an alliance of artists and community leaders through Public Art Project Inc., a non-profit organization that creates, facilitates and educates the public on the social and economic impact of the arts.

St. Petersburg college is working with Donnelly to create a large scale mural on the SS building at the SPC Gibbs campus. Initial involvement from the Ethics in Action and Phi Theta Kappa groups helped facilitate this project. The proposed idea will feature one of Donnelly’s popular sea turtles as the focal point of the mural, representing the incredible and unique journey each student of SPC will have in their lifetime.


America Reads, America Counts


America Reads and America Counts programs provide Federal Work Study assignments for eligible college students to tutor elementary and middle school-aged children in Pinellas County schools. Tutors are assigned a school at the beginning of each school year, usually in early September.

SPC students are encouraged to apply!

For more information please contact:

Alice Marks, Assistant Director, Financial Assistance Services, Clearwater Campus, Email, Phone 727-341-7956

Be a Mentor and Change a Life!

Mentor-1734259-1024x660SPC and Pinellas County Schools have partnered to provide SPC student and staff mentors to underserved schools in the district.

If you’re thinking… I just don’t have the time. Or, maybe you’re asking… What would I talk about? Does mentoring really make a difference? Pinellas County Schools Mentoring Program has made it easy for you! You have the choice to be either a Lunch mentor for elementary age students or a Take Stock Mentor for middle school students that also offers scholarships and college preparatory support.

Mentors meet with students during lunch once a week for thirty-minutes, and only when school is in session. Mentors attend a training workshop, given plenty of resources and activity ideas. District and school personnel are always on hand to support mentors but their most important job is to show up, listen and be a caring friend.

In one student’s words “My mentor came into my life and provided structure, did things with me that my parents couldn’t do. Read to me, listened and talked with me, and kept me focus on things I needed to do. My mentor helped me gain the confidence I never thought I would have.”

Students who have mentors are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college or a vocational school, and are more willing to participate in sports, and other afterschool activities. With renewed confidence students with mentors hold leadership roles in school and are better able to advocate for themselves. These positive relationship outcomes benefit not only the student, but their families, the mentor and the community.

In addition to the student’s parents; another consistent presence in a child’s life can make all the difference in the world.

For more information, join the next training session on Thursday August 25th at 12:30 pm on the Downtown Campus room 210.

Judge Myriam Irizzary to Discuss Issues Facing the Judicial System

Judge Myriam Irizzary will lead a discussion about the issues facing the judicial system Tuesday, August 23rd at the Downtown SPC Campus DT210.

Judge Myriam Irizzary to Discuss Issues Facing the Judicial System

One of seven siblings, Myriam was raised by a single mother. She was born in the US territory of Puerto Rico, in a small shack with dirt floors and no running water. When she was two, she moved to the slums of New York. Her mom worked hard to provide for her and her siblings. Through tuition aid programs, she was able to go to Rutgers College, and Rutgers-Newark School of Law. In New Jersey she worked as a staff attorney for Middlesex County Legal Services representing indigent clients. Later she worked for the Middlesex County Public Defender’s office before opening her own practice.

In Pinellas, Judge Irizarry started working for the Pinellas County Clerk of the Courts Office where she had an extensive tenure as Chief Deputy/General Counsel. She also was an Adjunct Instructor for the Paralegal Studies Department for St. Petersburg College.

In 2015, Myriam Irizarry’s lifelong dream was realized when she became the first Hispanic female to serve as a judge in Pinellas County.