All posts by Marilynn Cirri

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.


Educational Sign Language Interpreting – New Track Fall 2018

Educational Sign Language Interpreting is the new track the College of Education will be offering under our Educational Studies & Community Leadership degree.

Educational Sign Language Interpreting now offered at SPC
Educational Sign Language Interpreting now offered at SPC

The purpose of the Educational Sign Language Interpreting concentration is to provide a unique undergrad education experience designed to meet the needs of individuals who want to work in a K-12 setting with deaf or hard of hearing students.  Students will complete the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) as well as the National Interpreter Certification (NIC) exam upon graduation. Our program track provides students with sign language skills, an understanding of Deaf Education, knowledge of the interpreter’s role in the classroom, and skill development to prepare students to get started in the profession of sign language interpreting in a K-12 setting.

There is an increasing need for more sign language interpreters, particularly in educational settings.  The individual who chooses this occupation must be willing  to accept a variety of roles and responsibilities.  Primarily the role is successful communication, but graduates will have training to best prepare for encountering students from different family structures, socioeconomic levels, and multicultural backgrounds.

Program Benefits:
  • One of the most well respected Sign Language training programs in the U.S.
  • SPC instructors are certified by ASLTA and/or RID
  • A bachelor’s degree that can provide the foundation for those who wish to pursue national certification
  • A nicely organized, set sequence of courses
  • Internship in the educational interpreting field


Program Admission:
  • Minimum 2.0 GPA
  • AA Degree
  • Basic American Sign Language with Lab – ASL 1140C
  • Intermediate American Sign Language with Lab – ASL 1150C
  • Advanced American Sign Language with Lab – ASL 1160C
  • American Sign Language IV with Lab – ASL 2210C
  • Structure of American Sign Language – ASL 1300
  • Introduction to Deaf Culture – ASL 1510
For more information:     

Professor Michael Poulin,  College of Education,
Phone: 727-791-2788

Dr. Beth Carlson (Lead Faculty),,
Phone:  727-791-2746


Kelliann Ganoo, Seminole Campus,,

Phone:  727-344-8058

Dominick Ingargiola, Clearwater Campus,,

Phone: 727-791-2540

Subject Area Exam (SAE) Content Area Additions

Dr. Nancy Watkins, COE professor
Dr. Nancy Watkins, College of Education

For College of Education students facing the Subject Area Exam (SAE), studying for all areas can seem like a daunting task.   Certified teachers in the state of Florida are required to pass a series of three tests. One, the Subject Area Exam is designed to test for knowledge of subject matter.

However, since the addition of content area classes, students are learning about the domain of knowledge in World History, U.S History, Geography, Government and Economics through interactive and project-based learning.  This includes drama, the arts, DBQ’s (document based questions), academic gaming (Cranium CoRE), using primary sources and more.   As future teachers, they realize just memorizing facts for the Subject Area Exam is only surface learning and will be forgotten by the time they are teaching in a classroom.

“If a student asks me where a country is located, I want to be able to point to a map and show him/her”.  2017 Spring COE student


Students acting out the sad life of Thomas Paine and the impact his pamphlet “Common Sense” had on the American Colonists before the Revolutionary War.

Students in Spring 2018 working on synthesizing historical knowledge into banners and interactive notebooks.
Students in Spring 2018 working on synthesizing historical knowledge into banners and interactive notebooks.



COE students Brenna and Emily practice using Morse code while studying the dramatic impact this invention and the telegraph had on the Civil War.

“Lincoln instinctively discerned the transformational nature of the new technology and applied its dots and dashes as an essential tool for winning the Civil War.”  -Tom Wheeler, “Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails”. 
 Student comments: 

-Feeling so happy I had this class right before my Subject Area Exam.  So much of what we did in class was on the exam and I nailed it!!

-I feel confident taking the SAE in Social Studies now that I have taken this class.  I learned so much and had so much fun.

-This course is an excellent preparation for the Subject Area Exam.

For more information on the College of Education degrees and Areas of Study, email or call 727-712-5410.

Early Childhood Literacy, Community Fun

Rothman Early Childhood Literacy
Rothman Early Childhood Literacy Awards
Rothman Supports Early Childhood Literacy in Our Community

First of all,  Rothman Family Foundation is a huge supporter of Early Childhood literacy in Pinellas County.  Improving literacy among the community’s youngest scholars is one of Rothman’s commitments.  Sets of books and mini child size bookbags for completing their coursework in Early Childhood development was the perk to SPC students.   Licensed childcare centers or home care centers currently employ each of these students.   Closing the achievement gap and promoting life-long learning – go Rothman and Early Childhood students!


Storybrook Village and 5K Run Benefits Early Childhood
COE student helping with Early Childhood Storybook Village and 5K event
COE student helping with Early Childhood Storybook Village and 5K event

In addition, on Saturday, April 14th, SPC participated in the annual 5K Run and Storybook Village.  This was held in St Petersburg and coordinated by the Pinellas Early Learning Coalition.  Storybook Village community childcare providers brought to life the fairy tales presented after the race.  Boyd Hill Nature Preserve was a great place to host the over 200  to partake in the day of community fun.


You could support early learning and literacy by participating in the following:

  • enjoy reading activities
  • games for all
  • parent resources available
  • entertainment activities and more.


Anne Ryan, Early Childhood at SPC
Anne Ryan, Early Childhood at SPC


COE faculty and students helped children create personalized bookmarks.  The bookmarks were to use in their favorite tales.  Most importantly, all proceeds from the event went towards Coalition programs that serve the children of Pinellas County, our community.




Our Bachelor of Science in Educational Studies and Community Leadership Preschool Specialization 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.  This is a fully online program except for classes that have school-based hours. If qualified, 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. At SPC you will learn how to provide a safe learning environment to help children grow socially, emotionally and educationally.  Come learn the special skills needed to work with young children!

For more information about Early Childhood Programs:  contact

Elite Educator Program – Be More. Be Elite. Teach.

Become an Elite Educator

Teachers are dedicated, to say the least. They work long hours, spend their own limited resources to innovate curriculum, and do everything they can to make sure their classrooms are safe and welcoming for students.  What keeps them motivated? What fuels their passion for teaching?  Becoming more.

“To help students learn to think for themselves.”

“I enjoy the collaboration with other professionals, and the creativity needed to consider needs of different types of learners.”

“Being a child’s advocate and helping him/her realize his/her own potential is my greatest joy in teaching!”

Be More. Be an Elite Educator.
Michelle Feo, Elite Educator at State Capitol learning about legislative process
Michelle Feo, Elite Educator at State Capitol

Michelle Feo is in the SPC College of Education’s Elite Educator Program.  This is a partnership with SPC and Pinellas County Schools.  It prepares students to teach K-6 with an ESOL and Reading Endorsement.  Students are admitted as cohorts and take their classes together. A mentor is assigned for the entire program to help make an important connection.

Michelle is working on her Elementary Ed Bachelor’s Degree. Most noteworthy, she was chosen to go to Tallahassee with select SPC students to learn about the legislative process.  “This trip was for me to meet some of the people that will make the laws and standards that I will have to adhere to throughout my career,” she said.

Elite Educator benefits
  • Receive exceptional math and science preparation
  • Be prepared to work with Exceptional students and English Language learners
  • Earn a guaranteed position with Pinellas County Schools if you complete the program

Learn about our new Elite Educator Program – B.S. Elementary Education

a partnership between SPC and Pinellas County Schools

Build the foundation for your career in elementary education. Receive a paid internship and teaching job with Pinellas County Schools upon successful completion.
Elite Educator Program Information Session on May 2
Pat Roper instrumental in Elite Program
Pat Roper instrumental in Elite Program

Join SPC faculty and staff on May 2  to learn about our Elite Educator Program, a partnership between SPC and Pinellas County Schools. You can earn a B.S. in Elementary Education, a paid internship and a teaching job with Pinellas County Schools upon successful completion.

Pam Wilkins, COE Academic Program Coordinator
Pam Wilkins, COE Academic Program Coordinator

Sensory Experience in Diverse Populations Class


Students on the Seminole campus recently experienced a unique active learning situation in a Diverse Populations classroom setting of Dr. Jennifer Lechner.  A sensory experience affects a human’s senses: sound, sight, touch, smell and taste.  To help navigate different areas of the campus each visually impaired student was paired with another student for safety.

Students participated in a sensory deprivation activity by using earplugs for simulating a hearing impairment.  The use of blindfolds simulated  visually impaired.  Students were exposed to the frustrations of someone who is hearing impaired and experienced how isolating this could be in conversations.  Eating lunch forced students to do more hands onto prepare what they would eat.

Sensory Experience Provides New Perspective

After the exercise, they had a new appreciation for navigating a public bathroom, using an elevator, a computer and even eating food. One take-away the students discovered was that they could leave the classroom and escape the disability; whereas, those who have a hearing or visual impairment never get a reprieve.

Blindfolds simulate what students go through to eat lunch in Diverse Pops class
Blindfolds simulate what students go through to eat lunch in Diverse Populations class

Student responses supported this as a valuable and exciting learning experience. Although it is impossible to gain a complete understanding of what being the blind or deaf world is like, process simulation activities, at the very least, make learning concrete and help students to be receptive and empathetic by contributing to a better understanding of the problems and feelings that occur.

Through these simulation sensory experiences:
  • students were able to identify stereotypes and myths they held
  • learn basic facts about disability, and
  • form realistic perspectives on how people with disabilities are treated
For more information on College of Education programs call 727-712-5410 or email
Diverse Pops Sensory Experiences at Seminole Campus with hearing impaired
Diverse Pops Sensory Experiences at Seminole Campus

Writing Deepens Learning: Training Your Brain

learning to write is essential
Writing is essential and deepens learning

Learning to write is essential, it broadens and deepens learning.  Learning to write and writing to learn needs to happen in our classrooms. Writing is a necessary skill and one of the most difficult to teach and to learn.  The process of writing can enhance creative expression and boosts college and career-readiness.

Don’t ask why students can’t write, instead ask how can you help them to become writers. Writers collect lots and lots of ideas as they go through their day. We should teach students to live with the perspective of a writer, seeing potential for stories, non-fiction writing and poems everywhere and encouraging them to think “I should write this down, I may make something of it.”  Teachers need to get back to the basics of teaching the skill of writing. The articles below contain ideas for introducing writing strategies into our teaching.  They delve into strategies for improving and enriching writing instruction in schools.

Deepening the Skills

Writing Down the Bones      

Natalie Goldberg

Natalie Goldberg advises to listen … listen deeply and keep writing your thoughts.  Don’t cross out, just keep writing and use verbs.  They are the energy in your writing.

Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life …But there’s part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and details.


Giving Students the Right Kind of Writing Practice

Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle

The one-shot “big essay” approach is not the answer.  Using the spiral curriculum, revisiting the same topics and increasing their complexity practicing their newly learned skills incrementally.


Research Matters / The Magic of Writing Stuff Down

Mike Schmoker

Writing can foster deeper learning in every content area—if we let it.  Every teacher needs this skill – thinking on paper.

Writing encourages creativity, self understanding, reinforces materials, improves communication and helps educators determine if students comprehended the concepts.

For more information on College of Education programs contact or call 727-712-5410.

Dr. Jeani Fullard, College of Education
Dr. Jeani Fullard, College of Education

Science Literacy Supported Reading Fair

Science Reading Fair @SPC promoting literacy
Science Literacy Reading Fair @SPC
Dr. Delgato, COE Science programs
Dr. Meg Delgato, COE Science professor

College of Education students currently enrolled in Dr. Meg Delgato’s Science Concepts in the Elementary Classroom (SCE 4113), hosted a reading fair supporting science literacy.  The event was held on  March 27, at the Clearwater Campus. The fair featured a selection of children’s books with themes related to various aspects of science. The reading fair provided an opportunity for COE students to share their favorite science book through a storyboard display.

Service Project

The event was part of a service project to support science education. Students created display boards.  The board was to depict their interpretation of the science theme of the selected book.  The project emphasized science vocabulary.  Text-to-world reading strategies were encouraged.  Text-to-world reading strategies play a key role in helping teachers use children’s literature to connect meaning to science content.  Purposeful reading helps students to better comprehend the ideas in the text.  Students extensively researched their subject to support each project board.   The students investigated scholarly articles with evidenced-based practices related to literacy.

Children, spouses, parents and faculty attended.  Each guest had the opportunity to leave with a coloring sheet, puzzle or other take-home item.  Take-aways are intended as a memory tool to emphasize at least one science vocabulary word.  The participants had the chance to learn many new science terms with 24 display boards and have a little fun at the same time! Science teaches kids about the world around them. Science can spark in kids’ minds that they, too, can help solve the world’s big problems.  We hope to make this event a regular “booking” for our COE students!

For more information on College of Education programs:  contact Pat Roper at 727-712-5410 or

Volunteers Service Learning Fun for ALL!


Special Olympics Volunteers March 2018 at Lakewood
Special Olympics Volunteers March 2018

Thirteen student volunteers went to guide the athletes in their competitions and skills at the Special Olympics Region VI Games.  The events were held at Lakewood High School in March over SPC’s Spring break this year.  College of Education preservice teacher volunteers enjoyed the day of service and fun.

Volleyball volunteers at Special Olympics at Lakewood in March
Volleyball volunteers at Special Olympics

The Pinellas County Special Olympics Florida program is made possible through the generosity of local individuals, civic clubs, businesses and corporations. Athletes participate in the program at no cost. The program depends on volunteers and donations.

Their website states: Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They serve approximately 1403 athletes in Pinellas with over 350 people volunteering their time and effort.

Volunteering and Service Learning Benefits

Volunteering for Special Olympics is one event preservice teachers can gain experience working with exceptional students.  Professional and personal development of skills for pre-service teachers using service-learning is one way of engagement with individuals with different life experiences.  Emphasizing community awareness develops attributes like empathy, leadership, self-reflection, and confidence  while building on those concepts learned in class.

College of Education’s ESE Program

The College of Education offers five specialized courses that give students who major in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) the additional tools they need to be successful teachers. Students can earn a Reading and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement through the program. They are eligible to take the general education certification as well.  These extra endorsements make students valuable job candidates to school systems. SPC offers continuing education for ESE coursework and autism endorsements.

For more information on this program or other teaching programs:

Contact Pat Roper at 727-712-5410 or email