All posts by Barbara Wolter

Sign Language Interpreting students travel to D.C.

Supported by the Clearwater Student Government Association, the Sign Language Interpreting Program (S.L.I.P) student graduates, were, once again, afforded the opportunity to travel to Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., from Oct. 20-23, 2016.

Visiting Gallaudet for students who plan to be professionals in the field of Deaf Education or Sign Language Interpreting, was a trip into the history of the American Deaf and brought life to what students have only read about in their textbooks.

St. Petersburg College offers one of the most well respected Sign Language training programs in the United States. SPC instructors are certified by the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA) and/or the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).

Our A.S. in Sign Language Interpretation provides students with sign language skills, an understanding of deaf culture, knowledge of the interpreter’s role and skill development to prepare students to apprentice to get started in the profession of sign language interpreting.

Trip highlights

For three days, students were immersed in what is considered one of the foremost linguistic and cultural centers of American Deaf Culture in the world. This particular visit coincided with A Midsummer Night’s Dream workshops and shows performed by the Gallaudet University Theatre and Dance Program.

Students and advisors stayed on campus at the Kellogg Conference Hotel and:

  • Attended workshops and theatre performances
  • Toured the campus museum and field house
  • Visited Kendall Demonstration Elementary School and Model Secondary School for the Deaf
  • Met with the director of the sign language interpreting program and
  • Had meetings with working interpreters on campus before spending a little time in the city

In addition, students visited the presidential office and even met Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano, Gallaudet University’s first female president!

History of Gallaudet University

Founded in 1864 when President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law, Gallaudet University remains in the forefront relative to innovation, policy development, research and education.

We are grateful to have the continued support of the Clearwater Student Government Association that allows our graduating students to be immersed in what is often called, “Deaf Mecca”.

Sign language student follows her heart #SPCinspires

When Holli Tempe was child, she loved to watch Linda Bove, the deaf actress who played Linda the Librarian on the PBS children’s show Sesame Street. She was fascinated when Bove would pop up in a little interpreting bubble during the show.

Years later, when Tempe started her studies at St. Petersburg College, she jumped on the chance to take American Sign Language (ASL) classes. Initially, she planned to pursue a career in computer programming. By the time she graduated with her Associate of Arts degree, she had taken ASL levels 1, 2 and 3. After graduation she transferred to the University of South Florida to study computer programming. It only took one semester for her to realize programming wasn’t for her. Eventually, she returned to SPC and completed the Associate in Science degree in Sign Language Interpretation.

“I remembered right away how much I loved it,” she said. “The instruction I had at SPC was just phenomenal.”

Sign language internship provides invaluable experience

SPC’s sign language program has a required internship that made a big difference to Tempe.

“My SPC internship was amazing,” she said. “It definitely helped improve my skills and gave me the experience of a live interpreting situation so that when I got out in the community I didn’t have that deer in the headlights experience.”

Career event leads to interpreting job

Sign Language graudate Holli Tempe
Holli Tempe

During her final term at SPC she attended a career event where she connected with Purple Communications, an interpretation company that serves the local Deaf community. They tested her interpreting skill level and offered her a job before she even walked across the stage at graduation.

She continued to work for Purple Communications and enrolled in the University of North Florida’s ASL/English Interpreting undergraduate program. Their A.S. to B.S. transfer program is offered mostly online. Students come to campus in Jacksonville one weekend a month.

“When I left SPC, I felt totally ready for the bachelors program at UNF,” she said. “The SPC professors expect that you will continue your education and meet your goal of being a nationally certified interpreter.”

She earned her bachelor’s degree from UNF two years later and is now pursuing a master’s degree in the same program with a concentration in Interpreting Pedagogy. Her goal is eventually to return to SPC to teach interpreting classes.

She also passed the national certification tests with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).

“Being RID certified makes you more valuable to your employer,” she said. “It also opens doors for other interpreting opportunities where you can improve your skills and increase your knowledge.”

Tempe said her SPC instructors and administration were very supportive.

“SPC inspired me to continue to focus on my goals,” she said. “They expected a lot and held me accountable – and for me, that was very motivating.”

SPC alumna is finalist for prestigious Teach for America fellowship

Deniann Grant - Teach for America

Deniann Grant, a 2012 SPC graduate, was recently chosen as a finalist for the Teach for America Sue Lehmann Teaching and Learning Fellowship. The award recognizes outstanding teachers who exemplify the organization’s core values. Chosen as one of 25 finalists from more than 200 applicants, the award decision will be announced in May.

“This award will put a positive spotlight on our community and our passion for what we do,” said Grant. “As a group, we work very hard and take what we do very seriously.”

A former Johnnie Ruth Clarke scholar, Grant earned her A.A. Degree from SPC with a focus on Communications. Afterwards, she transferred to the University of Florida, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and History in 2014. Since then, she has worked with Teach for America, the national teacher corps committed to expanding educational opportunity for all children. She currently teaches first grade English Language Arts at Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Elementary School in Bridgeport, CT.

Motivated by classroom connections

SPC grad Deniann Grant connects with Teach for America students
SPC grad Deniann Grant connects with Teach for America students.

Grant found her motivation to join Teach for America from her own educational background. When she was 11, her parents moved from Antigua so that she and her three siblings would have the opportunity to go to college.

“I grew up in a country where we didn’t have a lot of resources but we had really excellent teachers,” she said.

Her first experience in America in middle school was not a positive one. She worked hard to make up for lost time in high school and, at 16, graduated from the Criminal Justice Academy at Pinellas Park High School.

“I had excellent teachers and smaller classroom sizes in high school,” she said. “The teachers at Pinellas Park High School reached out to me and made personal connections.”

That focus on the importance of personal connections stuck with her over the years and was again reinforced in her work with Teach for America.

“As a classroom community, we have been able to build a very strong sense of connection with our students,” she said. “Teach for America’s mission of all children getting a chance to have an excellent education is something I really believe in. It is important for me to be someone in a child’s life that they can look back on and see as impactful.”

New leadership role with Teach for America in Miami

This summer, Grant will begin a new phase of her career working for Teach for America as a Manager in Teacher Leadership Development in Miami-Dade. Her new position will move her from the classroom into a mentor/coach role where she will advise teachers and collect data on the effectiveness of their efforts.

Looking back, Grant credits the leadership training she received while a student at SPC to much of her success today.

“Because I had people believe in me at SPC, I was always involved in leadership training,” she said. “When I think about my identity and how I interact with people and other professionals, I realize that I learned the gist of that at SPC.”

In her two years at SPC, Grant served as President of the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus’s Student Government Association and Chief Executive Officer for the transitional team of MYRA (Make Your Radio Active) Radio Network.

“Deniann Grant has helped to define the way faculty, students and staff view student leaders, not only here at St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, but college wide,” said Tyrone Clinton, Associate Provost of SPC’s Downtown and Midtown Centers. “As president of the Student Government Association, she set high standards for those who followed in her footsteps. She also has shown her classmates that with dedication and hard work your goals are attainable.”

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