Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The goal is better teachers as Pinellas and SPC launch new training program

Schools chief Mike Grego aims to draw and retain top teachers.

Schools chief Mike Grego aims to draw and retain top teachers.

Hire the best teachers. If you can't hire them, grow your own.

That's the philosophy behind a new partnership between St. Petersburg College and the Pinellas County school system that promises students an "elite" teacher training program with a greater emphasis on practical knowledge and more time in the classroom. The hook: a guaranteed job after graduation.

Superintendent Mike Grego, who formally announced the program Tuesday, called it one of the major accomplishments of the year. It's a key piece of his broader goal to attract and retain the best teachers for Pinellas County's public schools.

Pinellas made a significant move in that direction last year when it bumped its minimum salary for teachers to $40,000 a year, the highest in the Tampa Bay area. With this revamped education degree, Grego now has taken a step to boost teacher training as well.

"We're going to ensure quality into Pinellas County," he told School Board members during a work session.

School districts across Florida are increasingly competing for the best young teachers as a wave of veteran educators retire following changes to the state's retirement system. At the same time, many teacher preparation programs nationwide have been criticized for spending too much time on theory and not enough on practical skills, leaving new teachers under-prepared for the realities of the classroom.

Some new teachers have taken a single class in particular subjects, such as math or special education, before starting their careers.

The "Elite Educator Program" at SPC seeks to change that, calling for students to take education courses in all four years of college rather than just the last two. Students will have monthly seminars about teaching as well as a coach to guide them through their education.

The school district also will provide students with a $1,000 stipend to intern in Pinellas schools before graduation.

The program, which starts in August, requires slightly higher credentials from potential students. Instead of the typical 2.5 grade-point average, students will need an unweighted score of 3.0. They also will face a candidate interview, among other requirements.

Bill Law, president of SPC, called Pinellas County Schools "our No. 1 client," and said he was excited to respond to the needs of the community. Students, too, will benefit from more time in the classroom before embarking on their teaching careers, he said.

"The big piece in my head is the students have a lot more time during their learning experiences, they're out in the classrooms a lot more," Law said. "And then, secondly, an enhancement to the internship program so those students toward the end of their career are working as paid interns in Pinellas County Schools."

The program will prepare students to teach kindergarten through sixth grade, though both Grego and Law said they'd like to expand into secondary education in future years. Students will receive a bachelor's degree in education as well as endorsements in reading and ESOL, or English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Students also will start the program in cohorts and take all of their classes together.

Times staff writer Lisa Gartner contributed to this report. Cara Fitzpatrick can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8846. Follow her on Twitter @Fitz_ly.

The goal is better teachers as Pinellas and SPC launch new training program 05/13/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102