All posts by Francine Fuentes

Relaxed Interns Ready for Classrooms

teacher assists student at whiteboard

St. Petersburg College’s College of Education interns recently celebrated their graduation, and although the celebration was virtual, excitement, anticipation and curiosity were in the air!

Sherri Kent-Roberts, Liaison for the Office of School Partnerships, Francine Fuentes, Administrative Services Specialist, and Margaret Bowman, Sr. Academic Program Director, welcomed our amazing interns about to embark on their teaching journeys. Pam Wilkins, Sr. Academic Program Coordinator, presented information on requirements for graduation.

Self Care Is Important for Educators

As educators, it is critical that selfcare is practiced regularly, so Sara Sabourin, Career Outreach Specialist in Career Services, provided an outstanding interactive session titled, “Relaxing in the Workplace,” where we learned about tapping, stretching and positive reinforcement. Her demeanor and soft presence brought forth an excellent source of calm for our students about to lead their own classrooms. We also learned about breathing techniques that can help rid toxins from the body, decrease fatigue, improve sleep, calm the nervous system and reduce stress. These are all very important to staying healthy and alert on a career path and life in general.  Breathing regularly seems like we would all be aware of this, but we become so busy and often stressed, we need to stop and think about it.  

Best of Luck to Graduates

Congratulations to the College of Education Spring class of 2021!  It has been our pleasure to watch you grow and experiment with your teaching abilities. We know you will certainly have empathy, compassion and kindness for all of your students, regardless of where they are in their education! The profession of teaching is responsible for educating every profession.  You will touch and unfold all lives in the most memorable way.  Each teacher contributes to the success of others. We have learned from each of you.  Continue asking questions, be curious and spontaneous, and most of all, TEACH ON!

Exceptional Student Education Students showcase Art

two rows of masks hang at art display

Zachary Thompson, an art teacher in Pinellas County, works with Exceptional Student Education Students who often are not provided with many opportunities to showcase their art.

Zachary Thompson, Art Teacher at Richard L. Sanders School

Thompson, who is currently taking a recertification course at SPC in the College of Education, shared with one of his professors, Dr. Cher Gauweiler, about a unique project in which he participated. The project, which was in collaboration with Pinellas County Schools, provided ESE students an opportunity to showcase their work at a Pinellas County School Board ArtsXChange Gallery show.

The Warehouse Arts District Association was excited to announce the exhibition in March, which was created by students with disabilities attending Pinellas County Schools. The artists chosen and represented in this exhibit attend one of the four Exceptional Student Education (ESE) center schools in Pinellas County: Calvin A. Hunsinger School, Nina Harris ESE School, Paul B. Stephens ESE Center, and Richard L. Sanders School.

Gauweiler loved the creativity and display of the students’ talents in the video. She even showed the video to her four-year old, Nyla, who said, “That art is beautiful!”

Through personal investigation and reflection, each work of art creates a statement about how the artist is seen in various communities that relate to family, peers and social networking. Emotions are stirred by each student’s contribution.

Art speaks in all languages. What we might not be able to say, we can create with pen, paint or paper. Please take a few minutes to watch this video, which displays the artwork. It captures the hearts, talents and abilities we would never know of if these students were not given the chance to shine.

“I’m very proud of what the students have been able to achieve with proper direction,” Thompson said. “The more that people find out about what the four Pinellas County Schools ESE Centers are doing with art curriculum, the better.”

Career Seminar Offers Possibilities

woman in brown blazer stands before a classroom, arms crossed

SPC students are sought by many school districts for teaching positions because they are some of the best, and their passion is infectious. As St. Petersburg College’s College of Education interns approach graduation in May, opportunities abound as our students seek employment in the field they love: Teaching. Recently, Interns from SPC’s College of Education attended the Office of School Partnerships Spring 2021 Mid-Term Career Seminar via Zoom.

Our program continues to grow, and many of our students Livestreamed the seminar. Sherri Kent-Roberts, Liaison for the Office of School Partnerships, Dr. Melissa McAllister, Dr. Jennifer Fernandez, Dr. Cher Gauweiler, Pam Wilkins, Margaret Bowman and others from 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, even though the seminar was held via Zoom.

George Papaemanuel, Human Capital Partner, Pasco County Schools, was the star of the seminar. He conducted interviews with two of our students: Anthony Gaymore and Emily Sharer. A discussion was held following the interviews, which was a time to provide feedback and evaluate the interviews.

George Papaemanuel, Human Capital Partner, Pasco County Schools offered interview strategies, and his presentation received many favorable reviews from our students.

During the afternoon, concurrent sessions were held by school district representatives, who shared the benefits of their districts. Interns had the opportunity to attend break-out sessions with district representatives to learn about their offerings once they graduate from the College of Education.  

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. 

Kappa Delta Pi Holds Induction Celebration

close up of masks with kappa delta Pi logo

St. Petersburg College Alpha Beta Zeta chapter members of the Kappa Delta Pi honor society recently celebrated their induction in a true fashion of safety, with a drive-by initiation at SPC’s Clearwater Campus. Grandparents, parents and KDP members’ children shared their joy with the rom the College of Education students. A total of 14 new chapter members drove up to the festive tent, which was housed with gifts, masks, cupcakes and honors cords. 

Kappa Delta Pi is an International Honor Society for students studying education. It was founded in 1911 to foster excellence in education and promote fellowship among those dedicated to teaching. For over a century, the honor society has consistently grown to become the international organization it is today, with a membership exceeding 1.2 million!

Monthly chapter meetings were held via Zoom to allow members to share their voice and enhance the lives of their students. Their passion and compassion for others is certainly contagious. Chapter members Asaph Graham and Katlyn Buchanan led our chapter members for 2021 in their true officer style, along with Chapter Advisor, Dr. Jennifer Fernandez, Sherri Kent-Roberts, Treasurer, and Francine Fuentes, Co-Counselor.

KDP supports and advances educators throughout the phases and levels of their teaching career and encourages quality learning by giving educators the means to implement research-based strategies, continue professional growth, assume leadership, and become master teachers. KDP achieves this goal of quality learning for all by:

  • Providing teacher education programs with professional resources and sustained support for retaining effective educators in all classrooms.
  • Developing teacher leaders to be change agents and empowering them to advocate for the best interest of students and the teaching profession.
  • Advancing instruction that ensures students are globally aware, socially responsible, resilient, and able to solve problems in a just and equitable way.

for additional information:

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