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Pinellas education news: Discovery Nights, gadgets for needy kids and more

News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
Students make their way to new classrooms on March 18, 2019 at Melrose Elementary, which received $26 million in improvements recently. The school is home to the Center for Communications, Journalism & Multimedia Studies, which will welcome families for a Discovery Night at 6 p.m. Tuesday. [Times (2019)]
Published Nov. 7
Updated Nov. 11

Ten schools to host Discovery Nights

The Pinellas County school system continues its schedule of Discovery Nights over the next week, offering families a chance to get a close-up look at choice programs. Most of the events start at 6 p.m., unless otherwise noted, and typically last one to two hours. Applications will be accepted online Jan. 8–17. Discovery Nights for more programs are scheduled into mid-December. For a full list and more information about school choice options, visit or call the school district’s Student Assignment office at (727) 588–6210. Also consult the Times’ annual School Search guide at


Center for Gifted Studies and Literacy Innovation - Elisa Nelson Elementary (5:30 p.m.)


Center for Communications, Journalism & Multimedia Studies - Melrose Elementary

IB Primary Years Programme - Mildred Helms Elementary IB World School

Richard O. Jacobson Technical High (all programs)


Center for Advancement of the Sciences and Technology - Bay Point Elementary

Center for Gifted Studies - Morgan Fitzgerald Middle

Criminal Justice Academy - Pinellas Park High


Center for Digital Learning and STEAM - Kings Highway Elementary

Center for the Arts and International Studies - Perkins Elementary

Center for Wellness and Medical Professions - Palm Harbor University High

International Baccalaureate program - Palm Harbor University High

SPC drive seeks laptops and more for kids who need technology

St. Petersburg College is collaborating with eSmart Recycling this month to collect gadgets for local children who don’t have access to technology. The program is seeking donations of old laptops, computers, tablets, keyboards, printers, stereos, fax machines and more, regardless of their condition. For a complete list of acceptable items, visit Contributors who would like to receive a Certificate of Data Destruction from eSmart Recycling should write their email address on a sticker and place it on the donated item. Donations will be accepted at two locations: The SPC Seminole Campus, UP 192, at 9200 113th St. N, from Nov. 4-22 (9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m.-noon Friday), and the SPC Bay Pines STEM Center, 4723 Bay Pines Terrace, from Nov. 20-22 (8 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday). Anyone with question about personal data destruction may call (813) 501-7768. For additional information, call Chad Mairn at (727) 394-6917 or Erica Moulton at (727) 344-8043.

Eckerd College exhibit highlights plastic waste

Eckerd College will host a one-evening exhibition of art created from single-use plastic waste from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday in Wrenn Hall at the James Center for Molecular and Life Sciences. All submissions to the “Used Once, Lasts Forever” art competition will be on display. Contest winners in a variety of categories, including People’s Choice, will be announced during the event. This community-wide event aims to increase awareness of the environmental impacts of abundant and unnecessary single-use plastic consumption while offering a creative way to repurpose discarded items. Sponsored by the Reduce Single-Use Project and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program.

Honors and awards

From left: Jonathan Ogle, the Pinellas school district's visual arts specialist; Todd Still, the youth education director at Dunedin Fine Art Center; and five students who won awards: Greta Welfring, Athena Axley, Anna Shell, Olivia Szymanska and Molly Moraniec. At right is Krista Schilling, an art teacher representing the Pinellas Art Education Association. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Schools]

The Dunedin Fine Art Center will display artwork by 72 students through Dec. 13 as part of its Creative Start exhibit. Awards went to five of the students: Greta Welfring, a kindergarten student at Safety Harbor Elementary; Anna Shell, a first-grader at Perkins Elementary; Molly Moraniec, a second-grader at Northwest Elementary; Athena Axley, a third-grader at Southern Oak Elementary; and Olivia Szymanska, a fifth-grader at Ozona Elementary. ...

Amber Robinson [Courtesy of Pinellas County Schools]

Amber Robinson, a teacher at Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary, was named the 2019 Outstanding Elementary School Educator by the Florida Association of Science Teachers. Her contributions include developing STEM integrated curriculum that uses engineering as the link among the science, mathematics, and language arts components. ... Laura Spence, a STEM supervisor with the Pinellas County school system, was chosen to showcase the district’s STEM programs to an international contingent of women STEM leaders visiting the district as part of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The group visited the district earlier this month.

Elementary school lunches

Monday: Cheeseburger or hamburger, cheese sticks and toasted ravioli boat, fruit and yogurt plate, deli meat and cheese sandwich, marinara cup, Tater Tots, fresh veggie dippers with yellow squash.

Tuesday: Beef or pork tacos, cheese pizza crunchers, chicken caesar salad, Jamwich Kit, refried Beans, romaine side salad.

Wednesday: Mandarin Orange Chicken Bowl, macaroni and cheese, yogurt and fruit parfait, ham and cheese croissant, steamed broccoli, sliced cucumbers.

Thursday: Student Choice Menu - students choose the hot entrees and vegetable options. Entrée salad: Apple-a-Day Salad. Sandwich: chicken caesar wrap. Mixed side salad.

Friday: Pizza variety, chicken and waffle, chef salad, turkey and cheese hoagie or sandwich, mixed vegetables, fresh veggie dippers with yellow squash.


  1. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School on Oct. 7, 2019, part of a swing around the state to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. He revealed a related teacher bonus plan on Nov. 14 in Vero Beach. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The new plan would replace the controversial Best and Brightest model that DeSantis had called confusing.
  2. Hillsborough Community College solicited "non-binding letters of interest or intent” last month from developers interested in purchasing the Dr. Gwendolyn W. Stephenson District Administration Center on Davis Islands. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Developers have eyed the 3.7 acre waterfront parcel for years, but recent interest has prompted the college’s trustees to finally start the conversation.
  3. Cotee River Elementary student Darrell Jones waves his American flag during the school's Veterans Day program.
    The School Board is scheduled to vote on the calendar next week.
  4. Pasco eSchool principal JoAnne Glenn is surprised by school district officials who announced she is their 2020 Principal of the Year. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A discussion with Pasco County Principal of the Year JoAnne Glenn.
  5. An investiture ceremony is set for Thursday at 2 p.m. inside USF’s Yuengling Center in Tampa. Currall and other USF leaders will speak about the school’s future.
  6. Experts are recommending the flu shot as outbreaks pop up in Hillsborough County schools.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. The Pasco County school district is considering an increase in substitute teacher pay to combat its low fill rate for the jobs.
    District officials say more competitive wages could help fill vacancies, which have been rising.
  8. JoAnne Glenn is cheered by her staff as deputy superintendent Ray Gadd and other district officials surprise her with the announcement that she is Pasco County's 2020 Principal of the Year. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    JoAnne Glenn next will be entered for the statewide honor.
  9. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning briefly blocked a critic from his social media accounts. He has since restored access to the person but says he would rather they have a conversation, “like two grown adults.” [Times (2016)]
    Kurt Browning restored his online nemesis as a Twitter follower and Facebook friend after staffers told him that blocking people was a no-no.
  10. Shawn Tye, left, applies fiberglass to a boat console as Dustin Pirko looks at Marchman Technical Education Center. Hernando’s business development manager says that in creating a technical school an effort would be made not to duplicate Marchman.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.