All posts by Francine Fuentes

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.