District announces 10 Teacher of the Year finalists
The Pinellas County school district has named 10 finalists for 2019-20 Teacher of the Year. The finalists were notified during surprise classroom visits by district and school administrators and, in some cases, their family members. A panel of judges determined the finalists after rating 131 nominees on multiple criteria. The finalists now will undergo an interview process and a second round of scoring by a different panel of judges, who will select the winner. All of the nominees will be honored at the annual Evening of Excellence, presented by the Pinellas Education Foundation on Jan. 29 at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. The finalists are: Deborah Guinn, Osceola Fundamental High; Cheri Connelly, Anona Elementary; Tina Angles, Ponce De Leon Elementary; David Martinez-Cooley, Leila Davis Elementary; Susana Carter, Elisa Nelson Elementary; Tracey Keim, St. Petersburg High; Staci DaSilva, Seventy-Fourth St. Elementary; Ajori Spencer, Maderia Beach Fundamental; Natasha Reed, Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle; Diana Mills, Bay Point Middle.
SPC students can take a four-week class during winter session
St. Petersburg College now offers a winter session from Dec. 16 to Jan. 10 that will allow students to take accelerated courses online. Students with financial aid can use their benefits to pay for the courses, which will count towards their Spring Term goals. The new offering "will allow students to progress faster through their academic pathways to earn college degrees” and meeting their scheduling needs, said SPC Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences Joseph Smiley. More than 15 accelerated classes will be offered online. "These classes are designed to take advantage of free time in the holiday season and would allow students to focus on a single quickly paced class,” said SPC Dean of Public Policy and Legal Studies Susan Demers. In addition to the Winter Session, SPC offers a 10-week Express Session and Weekend College during the spring and fall terms. For more information and to search for available classes, visit spcollege.edu.
Honors and awards
Seminole Middle eighth-grader Lauren Basara won the Pinellas County school system’s first annual geography bee recently. More than 30 students from seven middle schools participated in the competition. Lauren will take a qualifying test for the state geography bee in April. ... Two Pinellas students won top awards in the Florida Art Education Association’s annual K-12 Student Art Assessment & Virtual Exhibition. Charlotte Bayly of Clearwater High won the prestigious Best in Show for her color pencil artwork, “Desperation,” and Madison Cyr of Safety Harbor Middle was the Middle School Winner for her oil pastel, titled “Steps & Tunes.” Their teachers, Clayton Burkey and Nicole Eiler, were acknowledged as well. ... Long-time Pinellas School Board member Carol J. Cook was named the board’s chairwoman, and board member Eileen M. Long was selected as vice chair during the board’s annual organizational meeting earlier this month.
'Let’s Talk!’ tool lets families contact the school district 24/7
The Pinellas County school system has launched a new online tool called “Let’s Talk!” that enables anyone to submit a question, comment, concern or compliment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To start a conversation, visit the district’s website, pcsb.org, or access Let’s Talk! directly at pcsb.org/letstalk. The launch will be limited to several departments and district offices at first, but the district will be adding more in the coming months. Let’s Talk! will not be used to address safety concerns, which should be reported by calling 911 or submitting a tip to the Sandy Hook Promise Anonymous Reporting System or Fortify Florida.
Deadline is Friday to donate gadgets for SPC drive
Friday is the final day of a drive by St. Petersburg College and eSmart Recycling seeking donations of gadgets for local children who don’t have access to technology. The program is collecting old laptops, computers, tablets, keyboards, printers, stereos, fax machines and more, regardless of their condition. For a complete list of acceptable items, visit esmartrecycling.com/materials-accepted. 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 through Friday at two locations: The SPC Seminole Campus, UP 192, at 9200 113th St. N, (9 a.m.-7 p.m. through Thursday; 9 a.m.-noon on Friday), and the SPC Bay Pines STEM Center, 4723 Bay Pines Terrace, (8 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday). Anyone with questions about personal data destruction may call (813) 501-7768. For more information, call Chad Mairn at (727) 394-6917 or Erica Moulton at (727) 344-8043.