Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Saint Leo University students reach out to Pasco kids

Students from local elementary schools go to college on Thursday evenings courtesy of an educational outreach program called Math Circles held at Saint Leo University.  In the foreground, from left, are Kara Gunn, 6, Sevana Gunn, 11, Madison Gunn, 9, and Zsofia Vo, 8.

Courtesy of Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University

Students from local elementary schools go to college on Thursday evenings courtesy of an educational outreach program called Math Circles held at Saint Leo University. In the foreground, from left, are Kara Gunn, 6, Sevana Gunn, 11, Madison Gunn, 9, and Zsofia Vo, 8.


Zsofia Vo knows the secret to the Math Circles program at Saint Leo University. "They trick you into learning math," said Zsofia, 8, a student at Academy at the Lakes in Land O'Lakes. "They make it fun."

That's the objective of the Saint Leo outreach education program.

"We have outreach programs that bring school children to campus, and we have outreach where professors and students go to schools," said Jo-Ann Johnston, academic communications manager at Saint Leo. "There's lots of interaction ... these events also plant in the minds of little ones the possibility of college when such an aspiration might not have even occurred before."

Recently, 20 elementary and middle school students gathered to count jelly beans for a weekly program called Math Circles, which takes place at 5:30 p.m. each Thursday at the college's Lewis Hall.

"There is no homework here," said Monika Kiss, associate professor of mathematics and administrator of the Math Circles program. "This is not like school."

Some activities include building and flying tetrahedron kites, playing the board game Sequence or making a molecular model. During the jelly bean activity, they measured a jar filled with the candy and made an educated guess, then saw how accurate that guess was after counting — and then eating — the jelly beans.

"They're teaching us to love math here," said Esmeralda Perez-Arita, 12, who attends with her brother, Marcos Perez-Arita, 9.

Mom Karla Arita says Math Circles invites students to "eat, visualize, taste and experience."

"As a parent I love this kind of program for young children," she said. "It creates a fun learning environment for them."

The university also hosts mathematics competitions and regular visits from youngsters from Woodland Elementary and Lacoochee Boys and Girls Club. In April, the school will present a Careers in Writing and Journalism program to Cox Elementary students at the campus. The school also collaborates with the Rotary Club of San Antonio to host back-to-school events for children from Farmworkers Self-Help.

University instructors and students also work with students on a biology unit to repair damaged coral reefs with students at James Irvin Education Center in Dade City. Another outreach program concentrates on health and wellness.

Saint Leo freshman health and wellness students meet weekly with students in Dr. Jose H. Olmo's leadership class at Irvin, covering topics like nutrition, exercise, stress, drugs and self-esteem.

"We're getting these students back to the basics and we're building relationships," Olmo said.

And Saint Leo students are learning about public speaking and student interaction.

"We have to find a way to get these kids engaged to show how these health and wellness issues pertain to their lives," said Ryan Delieto, 19, a sophomore.

"Our students enjoy sharing their knowledge," said Veronika Ospina-Kammerer, associate professor and director of BSW field education at Saint Leo. "And the students from James Irvin ask every time, 'Are you coming back again?' "

Saint Leo University students reach out to Pasco kids 03/13/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2014 5:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: For Class of 2016, college debt loads favor Florida graduates


    Florida college graduates saddled with student debt: Take heart. The average debt Class of 2016 Florida grads must bear is less than students in most states.

    University of South Florida undergraduates gather at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa for last fall's commencement ceremony. A new survey finds their average student debt upon graduating was $22,276. Statewide, 2016 Florida grads ranked a relatively unencumbered 45th among states, averaging $24,461 in student debt. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Romano: One person, one vote is not really accurate when it comes to Florida


    Imagine this:

    Your mail-in ballot for the St. Petersburg mayoral election has just arrived. According to the fine print, if you live on the west side of the city, your ballot will count as one vote. Meanwhile, a ballot in St. Pete's northeast section counts for three votes.

    Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections worker Andrea West adds mail ballots to an inserter Sept. 22 at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Service Center in Largo. (SCOTT KEELER   |   Times)
  3. St. Petersburg will hold first budget hearing tonight

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Sunshine City's new property tax rate looks exactly like its current rate. For the second year in a row, Mayor Rick Kriseman does not plan to ask City Council for a tax hike or a tax cut.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman talks about the state of the city on Tuesday, two days after Hiurricane Irma passed through the state. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. 'We were lucky': Zephyrhills, Dade City get back to normal after Irma


    Two weeks after Hurricane Irma struck Florida, residents and city officials in eastern Pasco — hit harder than other areas of the county — are moving forward to regain normalcy.

    Edward F. Wood, 70, tugs at a branch to unload a pile of debris he and his wife picked up in their neighborhood, Lakeview in the Hills in Dade City.
  5. After Hurricane Irma, many ask: How safe are shelters?


    NAPLES — Residents of the Naples Estates mobile home park beamed and cheered when President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott strolled amid piles of shredded aluminum three days after Hurricane Irma to buck up residents and hail the work of emergency responders. But almost nobody had anything good to say about …

    The Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area opened its doors to anyone seeking temporary shelter during Hurricane Irma. Evacuees were housed in the Istaba multipurpose building and was quickly at capacity housing over 500 people. [Saturday, September 9, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]