All posts by Barbara Wolter

Volunteer to mentor local at-risk middle and high school students

Take Stock in Children

Since 1995, Take Stock in Children (TSIC) has been helping low income and minority students graduate from high school and college. This year, St. Petersburg College is partnering with Pinellas County Schools to help TSIC connect at-risk middle and high school students with mentors.

Learn more about how you can become a mentor for Take Stock in Children.

How the mentor program works

The program’s success is due to the unique multi-year program that combines student and parent accountability, mentorship and scholarship. To successfully complete the program, students and their parents sign a contract agreeing to stay in school, graduate from high school, remain crime and drug free and meet with a mentor 15 times per year. Graduates of the program receive two years of Florida Pre Paid Scholarship.

Current data from the Florida Department of Education indicates that less than half of students in poverty will graduate from high school and only a small percentage will graduate from college. The success rates* for students in the TSIC program compared to peers not in the program tell the story:

High School graduation rate 96% 57%
College Enrollment rate 96% 28%
College graduation rate 67% 25%

Of the 957 college students from Pinellas County who are currently receiving the scholarship, 45 percent (432 students) are attending St. Petersburg College.

* Source: Take Stock in Children

Education Dean Kimberly Hartman chosen for international workshop for teacher preparation reform

australia conference

SPC College of Education Dean Kimberly Hartman had the esteemed honor of being one of five Florida educators chosen to participate in an international workshop Sept. 8-11, in Melbourne, Australia.

Delegates from Florida and Colorado represented the United States at the Initial Teacher Education Community of Practice workshop funded by Learning First and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Florida team, chosen for the work they are doing in teacher preparation reform, was led by Eileen McDaniel, Chief, Bureau of Educator Recruitment, Development and Retention for Florida’s Department of Education.

“Florida is dedicated to being cutting edge in teacher preparation,” said Hartman. “We are committed to making sure all students have the same opportunity to learn and are equally prepared to succeed.”

Representatives also came from Korea, Hong Kong, Europe, Australia, Brazil and Finland.

The goal is to share practices from different countries to improve teacher preparation, teacher quality and eventually, student learning outcomes.

In January, SPC’s College of Education was awarded a three-year, $5 million grant from the Florida Department of Education to help prepare future elementary school teachers. In May 2014, SPC announced the Elite Educator Program, a partnership with Pinellas County schools aimed at transforming the way we prepare teachers. The new program was developed to provide new teachers with the content knowledge, qualifications and confidence needed to lead future elementary students on to academic success.

“The work we are doing with our $5 million grant and our new Elite Educator program lends to the same type of work being done in Australia,” said Hartman.

Part of a three-year, ongoing initiative, the second and third workshops are tentatively scheduled to be held in the U.S. and Brazil.

“Our goal is to develop a common vision worldwide that would also meet Florida’s needs for teacher preparation,” said Hartman. “We want to develop a vision for producing the best teachers in the world.”

Get your Florida teacher certification in 3 semesters

Reserve_Your_SpotDo you have a bachelor’s degree or higher and want to teach?

SPC’s state-approved Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) is a sequential, three-semester program leading to Florida Professional Certification for people who have a bachelor’s degree in a non-education major. To learn more, attend our information session on:

Wednesday, Oct. 14 2015, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The EPI Info Session will be at the Clearwater Campus in the Ethics and Social Science Bldg (ES), Room 127, located at 2465 Drew St., Clearwater.

Read more about the program from a recent grad who started a new career teaching at age 39.

For more information call 727-791-2521.

SPC graduate starts new teaching career at age 39

Kelly Connolly

When the school bell rings for the first day of classes at Tinker K-8 School in Tampa, it will be the start of a new teaching career for special education teacher Kelly Connolly.

A recent graduate of SPC’s College of Education, she credits her successful career transition to St. Petersburg College.

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

“Thirty-nine years old and starting my career,” she said. “Crazy and exciting!”

Connolly earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology in 2006 from Portland State University. And like many students, bounced around for a few years afterward trying to make ends meet.

Starting in 2008 she worked for Boley Centers, Inc., a residential facility for patients who are diagnosed with both mental illness and addiction. She had dreamed of being a teacher for years but circumstances and fear of failure kept her from diving in. Then she got pregnant.

“I thought – that’s it,” she said. “There is no more waiting. I want to be a teacher.”

She started SPC’s EPI program nine months pregnant. At the time, her husband was working out of state and she was recovering from surgery, taking care of an infant on her own and she still managed to get all As in all her classes.

“My professors were super supportive,” she said. “My experience at SPC was amazing.”

One of the requirements of SPC’s EPI program is to attend a career seminar, which is where Connolly learned about a Hillsborough County Public School teacher interview day. After researching all the schools within 30 minutes of her house, she signed up for interviews with eight local schools.

“Attending the career seminar was mandatory – and I am so grateful,” she said. “I would never have landed where I am right now. A college that provides you with the resources to help you find a job – to me that is just above and beyond.”

Tinker was her last interview that day. They were interested but she needed her Elementary Education Certification to qualify. She went home – applied for the certification exam – and started preparing. About a month later, after a second interview and passing the exam, she landed her first teaching job.

Located on MacDill Air Force Base, Tinker K-8 School, an A-rated school since 2000, is home to 537 students from military families. Last fall, the Hillsborough County School Board approved expanding the facility to serve middle school students too.

Her Florida Department of Education Certification is in Exceptional Student Education (ESE). In her new job she will teach special education students.

While her practicum and internship at St. Petersburg College gave her a start in the challenging task of working with special needs children, she has a realistic view of how tough it can be your first year. The Hillsborough County new teacher mentorship program will help ease the transition.

“A mentor comes into the classroom 90 minutes per week for two years,” she said. “So that’s going to fill the gap for me. I think the main reason I feel that way is because I’m going to be an ESE teacher and there are so many different types of disabilities. You could probably be teaching for 15 years and will still need to figure new strategies out.”

“I am very grateful for the entire process of the EPI program and to SPC,” said Connolly. “You gave me the education I needed and assistance and direction with finding employment.  I am a success story thanks to SPC EPI.”

Early childhood scholarships available for local workers

JWP partnership

Pictured above from left: Dr. Marcie Biddleman, Executive Director, Juvenile Welfare Board; Dr. Bill Law, SPC President; Maria Edmonds, Chair, Juvenile Welfare Board; Robert J. Fine, Jr., Chairman, SPC Board of Trustees.

Officials with SPC’s College of Education and the SPC Foundation worked with the Juvenile Welfare Board (JWB) to develop a partnership  in which JWB is providing $54,000 to fund 30 scholarships for students to earn certificates through the college’s Early Childhood Education program.

“The Juvenile Welfare Board’s generous scholarship funds will allow early childhood professionals opportunities to take courses to gain the knowledge and expertise to provide quality learning environments for Pinellas County’s youngest citizens,” said Kimberly Hartman, Dean of SPC’s College of Education.

The partnership was announced this week at St. Petersburg College’s Board of Trustees meeting. The goal is to improve school readiness rates and close achievement gaps by educating local childcare workers to provide high quality early childhood education.

Early Childhood Scholarship details

The 30 early childhood scholarships will be available for childcare workers who currently work 20 hours or more in a Pinellas County licensed early childcare center (as identified by JWB). The scholarships will pay for up to 12 credit hours for classes taken on the Clearwater Campus, to prepare the students toward a certificate in early childcare development, with specializations in Infants and Toddlers or Preschool. Both 12-hour certificates can be counted toward SPC’s Early Childhood Education A.S. degree.

For more information, contact Anne Ryan at 727-791-2521 or

Get paid internship, guaranteed job with Elite Educator program

Elite Educator Info Session

LearnMore_2St. Petersburg College’s new Elite Educator program guarantees a paid internship and job placement when you complete the program. This new partnership between St. Petersburg College and Pinellas County Schools is changing the way teachers learn to teach.

Register now for Elite Educator info sessions

Reserve_Your_SpotLearn more about SPC’s Elite Educator program (Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education) at our next info session on:

Wednesday, June 17th
5:30 – 7 p.m.
SPC’s Clearwater Campus
Ethics and Social Science Building (ES) Room 104
2465 Drew Street
Clearwater, FL 33765

 During the info session you will:

  • Learn about admissions criteria, course offerings and program expectations
  • Speak to advisors, faculty and the dean
  • Talk with students currently enrolled in the College of Education (COE)  Elementary Education Program
  • Learn about the benefits you will receive by completing this program

RSVP online or call 727-712-5410 for more information.

Get your Florida teacher certification in 3 semesters

Elite Educator Info Session

Reserve_Your_SpotDo you have a bachelor’s degree or higher and want to teach?

SPC’s state-approved Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) is a sequential, three-semester program leading to Florida Professional Certification for people who have a bachelor’s degree in a non-education major. To learn more, attend our information session on:

Wednesday, May 20 2015, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The EPI Info Session will be at the Clearwater Campus in the Ethics and Social Science Bldg (ES), Room 113, located at 2465 Drew St., Clearwater.

For more information call 727-791-2521.

Two SPC alumni were Pinellas Teacher of the Year finalists

Kim Lopez, a fifth grade teacher at Melrose Elementary was recently named Pinellas County’s 2015 Outstanding Educator of the Year.

Two St. Petersburg College alumni were named in the list of 10 finalists for the prestigious award.

William Aligood, a 2008 SPC College of Education graduate, went on to get a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in technology from Grand Canyon University. He currently teaches fifth grade at Plumb Elementary in Clearwater.

Charissa Chandler, a 2011 SPC College of Education graduate, teaches second grade at Sandy Lake Elementary in Clearwater.

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