All posts by Marilynn Cirri

Education Community OPPORTUNITY AND FUN

Drs. Curtis and Hoeh
Drs. Curtis and Hoeh, COE


Community, Fun, & Service:


INTERESTED STUDENTS (potential and current),




What? Education Community Walk- Step to Success

When? November 30th          9:30 AM-11:30 AM

Where? Clearwater Campus in the Quad



This event will provide the opportunity to talk to COE faculty and staff while learning about the different programs and amazing services SPC offers. Oh…and because there will be a doughnut vendor on site serving coffee and doughnuts!    

How? 1)Bring a non-perishable food item and/or a new toy to give to those in need this holiday season (and be entered in the prize drawing)

2)Walk the Education Community pathway. Learn about the programs and services at SPC (get your passport stamped to earn another entry into the prize drawing)

Wait…Prizes!?!? Yes! Win – with your donation and/or passport you will be entered into a prize drawing with the opportunity for prizes like a FITBIT Charge or a FITBIT Alta along with awesome SPC swag.

Join us for a fun-filled morning of helping others, learning more about the College of Education and spending quality time with your community members!

Pat Roper instrumental in Elite Program
Pat Roper instrumental to COE
Career Seminar OSP sponsors future teachers
Dr. Santos and Dr. McAllister

Click the link below to let us know if you plan to come!! We hope to see you there!!

Special Olympics Exceptional Exceptional Experience

Alternate Route, Passion to Teach

Are you eligible to take an alternate route and become a teacher in a 3 semester program?
Do you have a passion for education?
Dr. Michael Poulin, College of Education Dept. Chair and Educator Prep Institute Cooridnator
Dr. Michael Poulin, COE Dept. Chair & EPI Coordinator
Meet Dr. Poulin on Wednesday, November 7th at 5:30, and see if this is your future.

Educator Prep Institutes are designed for baccalaureate degree holders to become certified teachers.  If you have a non-education Bachelor’s degree or are a career changer considering an alternative route —  become a quality educator!  The College of Education at SPC has the perfect state-approved program for you.  Three semesters, starting Summer/ May 2019.

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. The EPI Program leads to certification in many educational areas:

If you would like more detailed information, please join us at our upcoming EPI Info Session:


Educator Preparation Institute

Information Session

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Clearwater Campus– ES – Room 105

2465 Drew St., Clearwater

Register at:

  • The EPI is an evening program with daytime teaching requirements during the second and third terms. All EPI courses are “blended”.  Blended course content will be delivered both on campus and online. EPI is not an online program, although coursework involves online components. On-campus class times may require one or two nights a week (Mon.-Thur.) beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending between 8 and 9:00 p.m.
  • Most importantly, EPI students are placed in elementary, middle or secondary schools (based on certification area) for real practical teaching experience. Our students complete a 60-hour practicum experience in the fall semester and a 10-week full internship in the Spring.
If you have any questions or would like additional info, please contact Dr. Michael Poulin, EPI Coordinator at  or Marilynn Cirri at .

Elite Educator Partnership

Dr. Greco and Dr. Williams, Elite Educator partnership
Dr. Greco and Dr. Williams, Elite Educator partnership
Be Elite. Be More. Teach.

Be an Elite Educator.  Knowledge fuels a teacher’s passion.  Becoming more is what keeps teachers motivated.  Teachers can impact the learning environment in many ways, including the physical, psychological and instructional setting.  Educating children is a rewarding and tough job.

“I wanted to help students think for themselves.”

“Being a child’s advocate and helping them realize their potential is my greatest joy.”

The Elite Educator program is a partnership with Pinellas County Schools and St. Petersburg College.  It prepares students to teach kindergarten through 6th grade with an ESOL and Reading Endorsement.  Students come in as cohorts and take their classes together.  They are assigned a mentor for the entire program to make a connection with the college and the services offered.  The cohorts enjoy seminars and professional development opportunities in this highly structured program.  Best of all, they graduate with a guaranteed job with Pinellas County Schools!


Elite Educator Benefits
  • Completing the program guarantees you a position with Pinellas County Schools
  • Receive exceptional math and science preparation
  • Prepared to work with exceptional students and English Language learners


Come to the Information Session – Be More – Be Elite

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Clearwater Campus (2465 Drew St.)

See the new Library – LI 109

5:30-7:00 p.m.

RSVP – 727-712-5410

See if becoming a highly qualified teacher is right for you!   
Elizabeth Ivy, May 2018 graduate of the Elite Educator program and Pinellas County 4th grade teacher
Elizabeth Ivy, May 2018 graduate of the Elite Educator program and Pinellas County 4th grade teacher


Getting in the classroom as a freshman was so beneficial after so many practicum hours.  I felt comfortable when it was time to teach.  I would have been nervous without all that classroom observation time.”

For more information on Elite or any College of Education program, contact Pat Roper.

Natural Selection – Education and the Peace Corps

Natalie's students she worked with
Natalie’s students she worked with

Education and the Peace Corps were the natural selections for the next part of Natalie’s journey.

Natalie Part II

As the AmeriCorps experience ended, Natalie enrolled in the Elementary Education program at SPC. She struggled through each semester, changing jobs each time her school schedule changed. Countless nights, Natalie questioned how she was going to afford beans and vegetables knowing her last $15.00 was earmarked for gas for school and her internship. Through it all, she reminded herself that the kids counted on her.

In the summer of 2017, she was presented with the opportunity to join the College of Education in Jamaica to teach in a school for a week with Study Abroad. Natalie didn’t think she could afford it.  However, she really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, so part of each paycheck went to this first.

Educational skills Natalie taught her students
Educational skills Natalie taught her students

Natalie ran a computer lab at a rural elementary school for an entire week by herself in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in November of 2017. The class sizes in Jamaica are double American class sizes. There were 20 computers and chairs, yet 38 students. Children who had so little became an inspiration to work with.

Comparing Cultures

The experience in Jamaica completely changed her. Arriving back here, she couldn’t wait to share experiences with her students. Through stories, they were able to compare and contrast life and schooling in America vs. Jamaica. Watching students gain respect and tolerance for another culture gave Natalie the feeling they would spread their knowledge to their siblings, families, friends, and anyone they encountered. This was a powerful emotion.

Jamaica students enjoying the COE Study Abroad students
Jamaica students enjoying their time with the COE Study Abroad students

Natalie knew that her next step would be applying for the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is a sister program to the AmeriCorps. According to their website, the Peace Corps is a service opportunity for motivated people to immerse themselves in a community abroad.  They work side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation.

In February 2018, she applied for the Peace Corps. Ironically, the only education program open for applications at that time was in Jamaica, of all places. The position was for a literacy advisor, doing what Natalie had been doing for the past few years. This was destiny.

The Jamaica program was one of the most competitive programs to get accepted into. This did not discourage Natalie.  She was invited for an interview in May 2018.  Out of many of competitive applicants, Natalie will officially serve as a literacy advisor, departing in March 2019!  She was one of the chosen!

What’s Next? Making a Difference

Natalie’s journey as an educator is just beginning. Her final internship will further prepare her to serve in the Peace Corps!  New stories, new places, new minds to open to a world of  possibilities!

Learning about the world
Learning about the world
For more information about Elementary Education or other programs with the College of Ed, please contact Pat Roper.

Elementary Education – Natalie’s Career Choice

Natalie and one of her students
Part I of Natalie’s Elementary Education Journey

This is a story about a revelation leading to Natalie’s elementary education  journey and how she decided this was the career for her.  Natalie El Amrani is a 24 year old Elementary Education student at St. Petersburg College. She entered her final internship in August 2018, and will graduate in December 2018. The journey in getting this far has not been easy, but Natalie is firm and determined.

Even though Natalie counts her blessings, she grew up in a dysfunctional environment. Her father immigrated to America in his 20’s from Morocco, Africa. Instead of making something of himself in this land of opportunity, he got quickly swept up by the fast life.  Today, he is still working as a bellman in a downtown St. Petersburg hotel. 

Natalie’s  mother was a single mom and tried her best to provide for her only child, as a claims representative at Social Security. She was an amazing, protective mother that always put her health and happiness second to make sure her child was fed and content.

After graduating high school and deciding to enroll in college, Natalie’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She battled with the disease for 3 years before she lost the fight. Her death, in 2015, shattered Natalie. At  the time of her death, Natalie was one semester away from graduating with an associate’s degree.  After graduation in the summer of 2015, a life changing experience fell into her lap while searching for a job:  AmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps Changed Her Life

AmeriCorps is a voluntary program supported by the United States federal government. There was an AmeriCorps opening with an organization named Step Up for Students. Step Up for Students is a nonprofit housed in Florida providing low income students and students with special needs with scholarships to help pay tuition for private school.  The AmeriCorps program sent volunteers into private schools in South St. Petersburg to help floundering students.

Mt. Zion students learning math and reading skills
Students practicing math and reading skills

Mt. Zion Christian Academy was where she was placed, the elementary school associated with Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. Her goal at Mt. Zion was to boost literacy and math skills through the implementation of software programs: IReady (literacy) and Dreambox (math), effectively group students for intensive pull out tutoring in order to provide academic support. Another goal was to create and run an after school and summer program housed in the gym of the school. Natalie received a small stipend for her AmeriCorps service and spent every day from 8 a.m. –  6 p.m. at Mt. Zion for a year.

Her focus after school and for the summer program was to create and build cultural awareness and tolerance. She taught students about different countries and continents. Together they explored exotic styles of music and dancing, and students looked forward to it every day.  Focusing mainly on the Caribbean, because so many of Natalie’s students had family from the islands, made the Caribbean culturally relevant to them. Many students didn’t even know where the Caribbean was, although they themselves were Jamaican. She taught history of the Caribbean, and dove into reggae and soca music. The experience was absolutely life changing for Natalie.

Lessons Learned
Natalie and some of her students
Natalie and some of her students

Two of the most important lessons learned were that true injustices exist in public education, and there is a great need for positive mentors in the lives of boys and girls. Throughout her service, Natalie connected with a number of 4th and 5th grade girls on personal levels. She saw her younger self in them. She was in a position to help young girls understand the importance of determination and self-confidence. Over time she created a few mentorships, which took place on the weekend.  Opportunities arose to take the girls to cultural festivals, feed the homeless, dine on the waterfront, and see many places that they never knew existed although located minutes from where they lived.

It was this experience, with AmeriCorps, that made Natalie realize she was destined to become a teacher and her focus would be Elementary Education.

Natalie's students she worked with
Natalie’s students
For more information on College of Education teaching programs, please contact Pat Roper.
For Part II of Natalie’s Journey, check back on this blog.

Early Childhood Education Students Attend One Goal

One Goal Conference representatives for Early Childhood
One Goal Conference representatives for Early Childhood Education with Anne Ryan, College of Education Chair


Early Childhood Online Students attend One Goal Conference

On Friday, July 20, 2018, we had the pleasure of hearing from some of our outstanding Early Childhood Education students at the One Goal Conference in Tampa. Representatives included Beverly Kamp, Cher Rosselot and Kimberly Shannon.  All three are T.E.A.C.H scholarship recipients.  The TEACH Scholarship supports future teachers and their mission “to increase diversity in effective teachers in Florida schools by providing professional development and scholarships.”

The Early Childhood students participated in a panel discussion hosted by the Children’s Forum at One Goal. As students living outside Pinellas County, they are completing their degrees fully online. They shared their experiences as early childhood professionals and SPC students. Each student shared their stories of juggling family and work responsibilities while taking courses in the College of Education.  Beverly, Cher and Kimberly expressed their appreciation for the support of Faculty and Faculty Advisors.

Educational Studies and Leadership B.S. degree:

gives you the knowledge and skills to work effectively with early learners (birth to age 4) and their families in both the public and private sectors. Other than some classes that have school-based hours, this program can be completed fully online. This program can be funded through the TEACH Scholarship Program.

Early Childhood A.S. degree:

As an early childhood professional, you play a vital role in the life of a child. From providing a safe learning environment to helping children grow socially, emotionally and educationally, you learn the special skills needed to work with young children. High school students can get a head start by earning credit for early childhood education classes. You can also earn credit if you are certified as a Child Development Associate.

With this A.S. degree, you also earn one of the following Early Childhood certificates:

Anne Ryan, Chair COE, Early Childhood programs
Anne Ryan, Chair COE, Early Childhood programs



For more information on Early Childhood programs, email or

Thank you for traveling to Tampa for the One Goal conference and thank you for being wonderful representatives of our SPC Early Childhood Education programs.



Decoding Essential Foundation for Reading

stock photo of kidsDecoding is an essential reading skill and the foundation of reading instruction. The brain translates print into speech by rapid recognition of letter combinations to sounds.  The brain recognizes patterns.  Phonics is used in teaching this skill.  With phonics you look at the whole word, breaking down to beginning sounds, ending sounds and context clues.  Or you can do the reverse by building from one letter to a word.  Phonics is the code to cracking reading.

Readers Lacking Decoding Skills

Teachers’ view:

  • difficulty matching letters and their sounds
  • guessing at words based on first few letters
  • student doesn’t recognize patterns they have been taught in class

Parents’ view:

  • child gets stuck often and parent ends up telling child words
  • frustrated child not enjoying story as they spend so much time trying to figure out words
Decoding Reading Strategies – there are many for all ages:
  • Write or project it – visually so students “see”.  Example would be air writing.
  • Use phonemic awareness – repeat and speak it.
  • Give time to think about an answer – think aloud.
  • Sort words from a story – locate key words.
  • Follow along – read along and stop to let child fill in what is next.
  • Teach phonics.
  • ABCs – students use a letter of the alphabet for the subject. Exposure to new words.
  • Inference – activity where suitcase filled with objects. Students must describe owner based on clues of what is in suitcase.

Dr. Marie Biggs, reading professor at SPC, came up with a ditty (1995) to sing that she shares with her pre-service teaching students to use in their classes.

I See a Tricky Word

I see a tricky word what can I do?

I see a tricky word what can I do?

I see a tricky word what can I do?

Try a strategy.

Look at the pictures that might help you.

Look at the pictures that might help you.

Look at the pictures that might help you.

Try a strategy.

Use your finger and swoop the word.

Use your finger and swoop the word.

Use your finger and swoop the word.

Try a strategy.

Look at the letters and sound them out.

Look at the letters and sound them out.

Look at the letters and sound them out.

Try a strategy.

Look at the word and chunk it out.

Look at the word and chunk it out.

Look at the word and chunk it out.

Try a strategy.

Skip the word and read to the end.

Skip the word and read to the end.

Skip the word and read to the end.

Try a strategy.

Give yourself a hand for trying so hard.

Give yourself a hand for trying so hard.

Give yourself a hand for trying so hard.

Reading is lots of fun.

Dr. Marie Biggs, College of Education
Dr. Marie Biggs, College of Education

Building on reading concepts in a logical sequence is an essential component of teaching.  In conclusion, developing decoding skills help patterns become recognizable.  Then students they can concentrate on the stories’ essence.

For more info on College of Education Programs, please contact Pat Roper at or call 727-712-5410.



Cultural Collections Arrive Fall 2018

College of Education Cultural Collections for a muticultural experience
College of Education Cultural Collections Coming this Fall

The Cultural Collections will be a working assemblage where faculty and COE students can continually add ideas, lessons, and activities to share.  The College of Education recently used funds from a grant for the Elementary Education program to purchase artifacts such as multicultural books, lesson plans, activities, games, music, and more.  Themed collections will be organized this summer.   Students will have the opportunity to use the collections in class.  Thereby learning includes how to make content relevant to diverse learners. Another skilled practiced will be integrating multicultural resources into any grade level or content area curriculum.

College of Education students can continually add ideas, lessons, and activities to share as this will be a working compilation.  Represented through the books and items are grades K-12.  Another focus of the collections is to provide activities involving family engagement.  Including multicultural families in classroom learning increases a student’s likelihood of success.

Developing cultural competence in classroom teachers is critical for student and teacher success.  Culturally competent teachers are better equipped to help diverse students build on their own prior knowledge and scaffold new information.  Multicultural education and culturally responsive teaching falls in the constructivist approach to learning.    Constructivism taps into and triggers the student’s innate curiosity about the world and how things work with a teacher’s guidance.

Cultural Collections Coming this Fall
Jennifer Fernandez, College of Education professor
Jennifer Fernandez, College of Education professor

Current COE students will have the benefits of  the materials in the classroom during practicums and final internship.  We will consider for the future expanding the program to include former students, who will be able to borrow the collections for use in their own classrooms.

According to the Florida Department of Education, there are more than 265,000 English learners in Florida.  Working with English learners and students from diverse cultures is a privilege.  It also entails its own distinctive set of challenges.  Breaking down barriers to cultural competence and creating new perspectives for our preservice teachers is the intent of the COE Cultural Collection.

Keep an eye out for the collection this fall!

For more information on the College of Education programs contact 727-712-5410 or email at .

Minority Teacher Education Scholarship Supports Teachers


Sherri Kent-Roberts, Dr. Linda Hogan, and Dr. Meg Delgato at FFMT Conference in Orlando
Sherri Kent-Roberts, Dr. Linda Hogans, and Dr. Meg Delgato at FFMT Conference in Orlando

Minority Teacher Education Scholarship supports our future teachers.  College of Education Academic Program Coordinator, Sherri Kent-Roberts and COE faculty, Dr. Meg Delgato, attended the Florida Fund Minority Teachers (FFMT) Board of Directors Meeting in Orlando in June.  The Primary Contact for the FFMT scholarships at SPC is Sherri.  SPC COE staff were joined by Dr. Linda Hogans, retired Executive Director of Retention Services.  This was an opportunity for networking with other institutions, sharing issues and possible solutions.

The Mission of the Florida Fund Minority Teachers, is “to increase the diversity of effective teachers in Florida schools by providing scholarship and professional development.”  There are currently 200 scholars from participating institutions in the state of Florida.

FFMT’s primary task supporting teachers:
  • Utilizing Florida’s community colleges as a source
  • Raise awareness of demographics
  • Train future teachers

The FTCE (Florida Teacher Certification Examinations) General Knowledge test assesses a prospective teacher’s reading, writing, language, and math skills. A common issue discussed is the fact that students are finding it difficult to pass the GK to gain entry into Colleges of Education. This contributes to a teacher shortage in Florida.

The Florida Fund Minority Teachers, Inc. (FFMT) emerged in 1996 to counteract the trends related to minorities entering the teacher profession in Florida. FFMT biannually awards the Minority Teacher Education Scholarship (MTES) to minority students wishing to become teachers in Florida’s public school system.

Emphasizing the Financial Awards:
  • The annual amount of the MTES is $4,000.
  • Disbursed in $2,000 increments during the fall and spring semesters only.


Finally, the deadline to apply for the scholarship for fall 2018 is July 1st.
For more information, please go to or contact
Sherri Kent-Roberts at 727-341-4659 /  email

Graduate Accolades from College of Ed

Graduate Accolades from the College of Education to:

Martinique Kelty graduated from SPC in spring 2015. In fall 2017 Martinique graduated USF with a Masters in Exceptional Student Education and an Infant Family Health Certification.  She is currently an ESE Support Facilitator at Azalea Middle School.

Martinique Kelty, Master's grad in Exceptional Student Ed from USF
Martinique Kelty, Master’s grad in Exceptional Student Ed from USF
Accolades from Council for Exceptional Children to:

The Council for Exceptional Children Suncoast Chapter 176 recently announced its 2018 Exceptional Student Education awards.  Matthew Clarke, won the ESE Rookie Teacher of the Year, Boca Ciega High.

Matthew Clarke, ESE Rookie Teacher of the Year, Boca Ciega
Matthew Clarke, ESE Rookie Teacher of the Year, Boca Ciega

Matthew is an SPC graduate who teaches READING 180 classes at Boca Ciega High School. His goal is to increase students’ reading proficiency, comprehension, and fluency.  He uses Whole Group Instruction before breaking off into small groups of students — working on the Computer Stations, receiving Small Group Instruction, and encourages Independent Reading.

The Florida Fund for Minority Teacher (FFMT) Scholarship provided Matthew with a terrific funding source while at SPC.  If eligible, full time prospective educators can receive up to $4000 per year. Matthew utilized this scholarship.  *More info below.


The Council for Exceptional Children awarded Jenni Herman, Inclusion Teacher of the Year, Pinellas Central Elementary.  Jenni was also named the Outstanding Educator Fan Favorite Award. This award is voted on by students, parents and the community on the

Jenni Herman, Inclusion Teacher of the Year from Pinellas Central Elementary
Jenni Herman, Inclusion Teacher of the Year from Pinellas Central Elementary

Education Foundation’s Facebook page.  As the Fan Favorite, Jenni will receive special recognition and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at Education Night with the Rays at Tropicana Field and a personalized Rays jersey. She will receive a Keg A Que from Clearwater Gas System, Mahaffey Theater tickets courtesy of the Bill Edwards Foundation for the Arts, a two-night stay at the Hotel Indigo, and other gifts.


Graduate Accolades:

Graduate Accolades to Dawn (Long) Lewis who is the Assistant Principal at Campbell Park Elementary.  She graduated from Seminole High and received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at St. Petersburg College and continued on to the University of

Dawn Lewis Asst. Principal at Campbell Park Elementary
Dawn Lewis Asst. Principal at Campbell Park Elementary

South Florida where she received Masters’ degrees in both Reading and Educational Leadership.  Mrs. Lewis’s personal goal is that every child will be academically challenged and will have the skills to make good life choices.


STEM Accolades go to:

Donnika Jones is currently the Assistant Principal at Melrose Elementary.   Ms. Jones won the 2012 Space Foundation Dr. Catherine Pedretty Space Scholarship for Teachers.  The scholarship paid for Ms. Jones to travel to Colorado Springs  and participate

Assistant Principal Donnika Jones at Melrose Elementary
Assistant Principal Donnika Jones, STEM

in one of the Space Foundation’s Space across the Curriculum courses. Courses were designed to help teachers use space themes in their classrooms.  The theme improves student performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as other subject areas.

Congrats to all who graduated from SPC’s College of Education programs and your accomplishments!
For more information on the College of Education and the opportunities available, please call 727-712-5410 or email.
*The priority deadline for Fall 2018 Florida Minority Teachers Scholarship is July 1.   Contact Sherri Kent-Roberts at 727-341-4659 for more information or visit their website.