All posts by Francine Fuentes

Education Degrees on Display at Virtual Open House

male teacher calls on a student in a room full of students with hands raised

St. Petersburg College‘s College of Education hosted an interactive Open House on February 18, 2021 to showcase the Education Career and Academic Community at SPC. This virtual event allowed participants interested in the COE to engage with faculty, staff, students and community partners, including school district personnel, as well as learn about all the education degrees SPC has to offer.

All the Facts

At the event, participants learned about COE program requirements and expectations, student clubs and activities, and the job outlook for teachers in the Tampa Bay area. Various representatives from local school districts shared highlights and benefits of becoming a teacher, and a few lucky attendees even walked away with door prizes! SPC Career Outreach Specialist Kerry Carter in the Career Services group, along with David G White, Career and Academic Advisor, shared valuable information regarding careers .

An Illustrative Adventure

SPC Professor Dr. Meg Delgato welcomed everyone to the Open House in her genuine and enthusiastic manner. The COE faculty and staff performed a short play, written and directed by Delgato, at the beginning of the event. The play, Dorothy meets Alice: An Adventure on the Yellow Brick Road, illustrated the thought processes and decisions a potential student (Dorothy, played by Cher Gauweiler) experiences when contemplating their dream of becoming a teacher. Thanks to the guidance of an experienced risk-taker (Alice, played by Nancy Watkins), Dorothy is able to meet a host of characters who assured her that they are just a few of the people that will support her along her journey. Each one helped her realize that she has the compassion and heart needed to be a teacher; the COE will equip her with the knowledge, tools and dispositions to make her become a great teacher. After seeing all the SPC and the COE has to offer, Dorothy clicked her heels three times and repeated, “There’s no place like the classroom!” and poof! She was on her journey down the yellow brick road.

Special thanks to the rest of the cast: Meg Delgato (Narrator and Toto); Margaret Bowman (Glenda the Good Witch); Jennifer Hart (Dr. Bright); Francine Fuentes (Dr. Moxie); and Robert Raze (Dr. Everheart), as well as to Janice Thiel, Online Learning and Services, who was instrumental in ensuring that the virtual experience went off without a hitch.

Our prospective students were left with the powerful message that they have the power and the courage to travel the yellow brick road to make a tremendous difference in the lives of students.

For more information about SPC’s Education degrees, see our website.

The College of Education IS Proud of Our Emerging Teachers!

emerging teachers

Pinellas County Schools’ Emerging Teacher of the Year program brings recognition to exemplary teachers in their second or third years of teaching who have demonstrated excellence through representation of the district’s core values. From the Outstanding Emerging Teachers serving in the Pinellas County Schools, two will be selected as the Emerging Teachers of the Year: One elementary teacher and one secondary teacher.

This year, three St. Petersburg College College of Education Elementary Education alumni are among the list of Outstanding Emerging Teachers:

Amber Hillhouse-Williamson

Amber Hillhouse

“I am a fourth grade teacher at Southern Oak Elementary. My experience in the Elite Educators Program at SPC set me up for success and gave me great experience. I’m so thankful for the opportunity. It’s a wonderful program at a wonderful school. “

Kayla McGee Batdorf

“I am so grateful for my education from SPC. It has definitely been a crucial foundation for where I am as an emerging teacher today! Each of the professors and advisors from SPC have taught me important pieces that I have been able to directly apply to my job, and it has truly made all the difference with where I am today. Some of the most important things that I have learned are to make sure the kids are my “why”, celebrate the small victories, and take it one step at a time.”

Meyghan Berne Rhiannon

“My experience at SPC was a huge part of the teacher I have become today. It was perfect having professors who were passionate about helping teachers become the best they can be. Seeing their passion for teaching helped my love for teaching blossom. The professors at SPC provided me with useful tips and advice, and they came in handy being a first-year teacher in November. I felt confident and ready going into the classroom, even leaving my internship early. The time spent at SPC will never be forgotten because I have developed important and meaningful friendships, a wealth of knowledge for my career, and a support network. I feel fortunate to have chosen SPC for my teaching degree.  Thank you very much for everything!”

Final Internship Orientation Celebrates SPC Education Interns Virtually

final internship orientation

Anticipation and excitement filled each of us in the room as we welcomed 24 pre-service teachers to St. Petersburg College‘s College of Education Final Internship Orientation.  Ms. Sherri Kent-Roberts, Liaison for the Office of School Partnerships, led the orientation. Leadership, relationship building and conflict resolution were emphasized throughout the day-long orientation.

Like all of COE’s final internship orientation events, the goal was to prepare pre-service teachers for semester-long, full time classroom teaching experiences. Unlike any other internship orientation—or internship experience, for that matter—the Fall 2020 event had to be quickly converted to an online venue, due to COVID-19. This was a monumental effort, which provided a rewarding professional development opportunity for our students. This platform gave them the opportunity to interact with the technology and instructional platforms that are being used in the classroom. They also discovered the need for flexibility, patience and the importance of having a “Plan A, B, and C” when using unfamiliar technologies and unknown circumstances: something teachers face every day in the classroom.

Representatives from surrounding school districts were in attendance at the event, and they took the opportunity to highlight important educational information as well as provide uplifting words to propel interns through the challenging times ahead. Break-out sessions brought our final interns together for a meet-and-greet with their field and reading supervisors. Faculty enhanced the meeting with their expertise on various topics and offered support and encouragement. 

Yes, it is true that exciting (and challenging) times are upon us; however, we must take the opportunity to relish the opportunities that now surround us. Each and every obstacle brings an opportunity for us to succeed and grow. This is what SPC COE students do best! Congratulations to all for your hard work, success, and we wish you the best of luck in your upcoming experience!

Rothman Family Foundation Supports SPC Early Education Initiative

The Rothman Family foundation once again showed their community support for Early Childhood Education students and the College of Education at St. Petersburg College.

This week, SPC Early Childhood Education students received backpacks filled with children’s books provided through a generous donation from the Rothman Family Foundation.

The Rothman Family Foundation has supported this Early Education Initiative for the last five years. Improving literacy among the community’s youngest scholars is one of Rothman’s many commitments.

The students in the Early Childhood Education associate and bachelor’s programs are working with young children in our community in early childhood centers, preschools, early intervention programs and Head Start centers. The students expressed appreciation for the materials and also for the recognition of the wonderful work they do with our youngest children and their families.

The Rothman family has also supported St. Petersburg College and our students through scholarships, the 75th Anniversary Capital Campaign, the Health Education Center Capital Campaign, Leepa-Rattner Museum Capital Campaign, Women on the Way, the Gibbs Campus Encore Music Center and the President’s Initiative, just to name a few.

Rothman family members Margie Green and Nancy Wygle attended the event and thanked the students and SPC staff for joining in this initiative to honor the legacy of their parents, Maurice and Thelma Rothman, who were the founders of Kane’s Furniture and devoted both their time, advocacy and philanthropy to children’s causes.

The College of Education takes great pride in our Early Childhood Programs and is extremely grateful for the immense support the Rothman family provides to SPC.

For more information on the Bachelor of Science in Educational Studies with a specialization in Preschool Education, or our associate or certificate programs in Early Childhood, please contact Anne Ryan.

Alternate Route to Teaching


Do you have a Bachelor’s degree? Have you always wanted to become a teacher? If you are considering a career in education or would like to change your current career to teaching, St. Petersburg College has the perfect program for you!

St. Petersburg College’s (SPC) Educator Preparation Institute (EPI) is a three-semester program which leads to Florida’s Professional Educator’s Certificate. Anyone with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher is eligible for entry to the EPI Program, whichleads to certification in many educational areas, including:

  • Elementary Education
  • Exceptional Student Education
  • Art
  • Music
  • Business
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • English

Our EPI Program is Financial Aid eligible, so this is an attractive program for everyone! 

SPC’s next EPI start group is Summer/May 2020. Our EPI is an evening program with daytime teaching requirements during the second and third terms. All EPI courses are “blended”, meaning the course content will be delivered both on campus and online. Although coursework involves online components, the EPI is not an online program. On-campus class times may require one or two nights a week (Monday-Thursday). EPI students are placed in elementary, middle or secondary schools (based on certification area) for practical teaching experience. Our students complete a 60-hour practicum experience in the fall semester and a 10-week full internship in the Spring.

College of Education Career Seminar Readies Interns for Employment

education career seminar

Excitement is in the air as St. Petersburg College Education interns approach graduation in December. Opportunities abound as our students seek employment in the field they love, and they will certainly make a difference. SPC students are sought by many school districts for teaching positions because they are some of the best, and their passion is contagious. After all, this is the most important profession of all! These interns from SPC’s College of Education attended the Office of School Partnerships fall 2019 mid-term education career seminar at the St. Petersburg College Clearwater campus. The theme of this seminar was Growth Mindset.

Our program continues to grow, and many of our students Livestreamed in for the seminar. The beauty of technology! Dr. Wanda Santos, Instructor-in-Charge, along with SPC College of Education faculty members Dr. Melissa McAllister and Dr. Cher Gauweiler and others from many regional districts, shared knowledge and tips that focused on the teaching profession. District representatives shared tips for interviewing and writing cover letters. They also conducted mock interviews with students, who were dressed for success.

During the afternoon, concurrent sessions were held by each school district representative to share the benefits of their districts. Interns had the opportunity to attend meet-and-greet sessions with district representatives to learn about their offerings once they graduate from the College of Education.  

School Districts in Attendance:

  • Brevard
  • Hernando
  • Pasco
  • Pinellas
  • Hillsborough
  • Manatee
  • Polk
  • Nassau
  • Sarasota

The College of Education and Office of School Partnerships is dedicated to working with our students to guide them to the finish line and view glimmers of sunshine when they finally take over their own classrooms and make a positive difference in students’ lives. 

“Our task, regarding creativity, is to help children climb their own mountains, as high as possible. No one can do more.” -Renowned Educator Loris Malaguzzi

A Classroom Library for the Love of Reading

classroom library

The following is an inspirational story told by one of our SPC College of Education students that speaks to her love of reading and the powerful influence she will have as an educator.

Uncle George instantly became an inspiration to me and my future classroom. It started as a usual Saturday morning, a late snooze (for me, 9 a.m.) and watching the clouds roll by. A fellow pre-service teacher dinged into our cohort group chat.

                 S.L.: Safety Harbor library is having a book sale… they have children’s books for a $1.

                  K.C.: Cool! I wish I could go.

    With Saturdays being my only day off, I wasn’t expecting to be doing anything crazy, and Safety Harbor is quite the drive from downtown St. Petersburg. About half an hour later, another notification came from my friend.

                  S.L.: They’re doing discounts for teachers, I got like 40 books for $20!

   I realized at this moment this was an opportunity I could not pass up! I packed a bag, called my mom, who likes books as much as I do so I figured she’d like to meet me there, and headed out the door. My instructors in the education program at St. Petersburg College, Dr. Gauweiler, Dr. Watkins, and Dr. Biggs, have instilled in us the urgency to get books when we can as teachers. So, I couldn’t miss this chance!

   A Starbucks stop and some light traffic later, I reached the Safety Harbor Library Friends of the Library event. I met my mom at the curb, and we headed inside with our usual excitement for new books. As we entered the hall, I ran into another of my friends from our cohort! He must’ve seen the group chat as well. We caught up for a moment and then began filling our arms with books.

   There were so many books, I could hardly believe it! Thankfully, my dad came along as well. I started pilling books in his arms that nearly reached his chin! A kind volunteer brought him a box and cleared a space on a table so I could collect more books without causing my dad any physical stress. I had a lot of books in a short amount of time.

   My mom had found a couple books for me as we perused the selections. I was impressed with the amount of books that were inclusive, diverse and interesting for children. I had to get them all! Eventually, I had picked through each children’s section and was pleased with my selection. I had enough to start a small classroom library.

    While I perused a bit more, just to be sure I got everything, I had a nice conversation with one of the volunteers who was talking with my dad. I had told him that I was collecting for my future classroom and that I was a future teacher. He said, “You should have said something!” He scurried off for a moment to the checkout table and returned with a sticky note. He scribbled something onto the note and slapped on to the stack of books in the box. It read “$15, CK.”

    “We support our teachers,” he said. “No matter how many more books you grab, just bring this sticky note to the checkout.”

    “Oh, thank you! That is far too generous,” I replied. He gave me a pat on the shoulder and wandered off to help some others browsing the books.

    I found a couple more books for intermediate grades, corralled my mom from wandering the hall for a third time, and brought the box of books to the checkout. Another volunteer asked me about my books.

    “Wow! You must like to read,” he said.

    “Oh, these are actually for my classroom library,” I said.

    “You don’t use those tablets in your class?” He asked.

    “Well, my instructor has taught us to use technology as a resource,” I replied. “But I prefer actual books for students to use rather than iPads.”

    “I like your philosophy. Books are so important, and I can’t stand teachers and parents just giving kids a computer,” he said.

     We talked some more until it was my turn to cash out for the books. I handed the lady at the register the sticky note and proceeded to pull out my wallet. Suddenly, the gentleman I was just speaking with handed a handful of cash to the lady at the register.

    “We need to take care of our teachers,” he said to her. He looked at me, “You’re going to be a great teacher one day, and I want to do what I can to get you started on a good foot. So, take this as a gift from Uncle George. He was my uncle, and before he died he told me to respect teachers and support them when you can.”

    I was astonished and overwhelmed by his kindness. “Thank you,” I said. “Thank you so much. That is so very kind of you. How could I repay you?”

    “Just name your classroom library after my uncle,” he said. “He would have loved that.”

    So, with tears in my eyes, I gave a nod and a hug to the gentleman before carrying the box of books to my car. This is the beginning of Uncle George’s Library. A classroom library built on the foundations of kindness, generosity, and a passion for reading.

    Thank you Uncle George, your kindness and your nephew’s generosity will always be remembered.

AFC Region IV Spring Conference at SPC April 28

AFC Region IV Spring Conference

The AFC Region IV Spring Conference will be held at St. Petersburg College’s EPI Center on April 28, 2017.

The Associate of Florida Colleges (AFC) is the professional association for employees at the 28 Florida College System institutions.  It serves as the advocacy organization for issues that are important college personnel like:

  • Funding
  • Retirement
  • Continuing contracts
  • Developmental education

These issues are legislative priorities advocated by the AFC Legislative Committee and the AFC contract lobbyists.

AFC Region IV Spring Conference details

The AFC Region IV Spring Conference, organized by Regional Director Francine Fuentes, will be held in conjunction with the Workforce, Adult and Continuing Education (WACE) & Institutional Planning and Professional Development (IEPPD).

St. Petersburg College – EPI Center
13805 58th Street N
Clearwater, FL  33765
Friday, April 28, 2017 – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ready to get involved?

  1. Join the AFC.
  2. Submit a proposal for the conference by March 13.
  3. Register for the AFC Region IV Spring Conference – The registration deadline is Friday, April 14.
  4. Bring donations to support CASA. This year’s service project will benefit CASA, the official domestic violence center in Pinellas County. Consider getting involved in a group that offers you unlimited ways to be a leader, develop a new skill-set and be recognized by your peers for your efforts.

For more information, please contact Francine Fuentes at

SPC Contributes to AFC (Association of Florida Colleges)

Association of Florida College's Executive Board (Photo courtesy of The Network newsletter)

Pictured Above: Back row, left to right: Melissa Scalzi, Lori Cannon, Sue Buntic, Wendy Garrett, Jessica White, Mikel James, (front left) John Fey, Marjorie McGee,
Lara Zwilling, Deanne Abrams, Francine Fuentes (St. Petersburg College) and Luther Buie.

Francine Fuentes, Administrative Assistant, SPC College of Education, was recently elected as the Historian for the 2015 Executive Board of the Student Development Commission for the Association of Florida Colleges (AFC). Learn more about the AFC Student Development Commission in The Network newsletter.

The mission of the AFC is to unite Florida’s 28 state colleges and advocate for them in the Florida legislature.

“It is extremely rewarding to be part of Association of Florida  Colleges (AFC),” said Fuentes. “I have presented a workshop on How to Make a Difference at several colleges throughout Florida and at state conventions.”

SPC employees are encouraged to Join the AFC.