Posts Tagged ‘St. Petersburg College’

Five SPC faculty members will be in Texas at the end of May to receive Excellence Awards at the 2012 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) 34th annual International Conference on Teaching & Leadership Excellence in Austin, Texas, May 27-30.

The Excellence Awards are given annually to community college faculty, staff and administrators who are innovators in teaching and learning. The five recipients and their awards are:

Outstanding Student Mentoring

Cathy Crumbs, Instructor, College of Nursing

Nursing is a passion for Cathy Crumbs, who wants to learn everything possible about the field and share it with her students.

Crumbs’ love for nursing spans back to age 13, when she worked as a candy striper at Mound Park Hospital (now Bayfront Medical Center) and Mercy Hospital. Her history at St. Petersburg College goes back to 1970s, when she graduated from the nursing program.

“I am a lifelong learner as well as an educator,” said Crumbs, who keeps herself abreast of the latest technical innovations through continuing education, journals, staff training and workshops, as well as seminars on nursing skills, clinical procedures and practices, as well as medications and medical research.

A strong nursing foundation is a must. Through tutoring and an open door policy for questions regarding homework and assignments or celebrations of achievements, she encourages students to develop that foundation in a comfortable environment that meets their individual learning needs.

“I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for St. Petersburg College,” Crumbs said. “I couldn’t afford to go away for college, like a lot of students, but still learned the skills I needed to do well.”

Excellence in College Preparatory Education

Patricia Smith, Associate Professor of Communications

As a developmental educator, Patricia Smith is particularly aware of cognitive and affective needs of students.

“Knowing the fragility of my student population makes me acutely sensitive and responsive to the individual differences and special needs among learners,” Smith said.

Her teaching style encourages their individual learning styles to further develop and increase their skills  in the classroom and also offers tutoring to students in her office to help make the out-of-class connection. An individualized education plan helps to change the dynamic into the one-room schoolhouse and improve student learning outcomes and strengthen their self-efficacy, esteem and motivation.

Smith thinks she was nominated because of her passion for developmental education and belief in interdisciplinary team teaching.

“Honors and graduate students self-discover what they need to learn, but developmental students need not only the educational tools but instructors and advocates who will journey with these students to help them succeed and complete what they start,” she said.

Outstanding Peer Mentoring

Li-Lee Tunceren, Lead Faculty Associate, Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning

For Li-Lee Tunceren, peer mentoring is not a rule-governed process. It develops naturally as colleagues build professional and personal relationships.

“I very much value the individual contributions of each faculty member, full-time and adjunct, and enjoy welcoming those new to our institution into a collegial environment,” Tunceren said.

Through her work with CETL, she worked to increase and improve communication between college administrators and faculty.

“One of the biggest challenges in a large organization like ours is communication,” she said. “I try hard to share policies, procedures and professional development opportunities and make myself available in person, by phone and online at point of need.”

Whether it’s connecting a faculty member to information or resources, or lending an empathetic ear, supporting colleagues is rewarding. It gives faculty a chance to learn from each other by discussing ways to better teaching and learning within and across disciplines.

“Mentoring and networking serve as a great model for student success,” Tunceren said. “It is they who ultimately benefit from well-informed, professional and caring teachers.”

Innovative Pedagogical Approach to Teaching and Learning

Robin Wilber, Professor of Finance in the College of Business

Robin Wilber’s goal is to emphasize the importance of her students’ success in the business field and to ensure that her students can compete with graduates from other universities.

“In the upper division at the College of Business we want to prepare our students for a job market five years into the future. In other words, we want our students to be ready for change and know how to use critical thinking skills.”

One of her key tactics is to utilize The Business Strategy Game Simulation, a world-renowned program in the capstone course she designed. The game allows students to gain the business and leadership experience of running a multi-million dollar company.

The capstone course projects have been successful. The inaugural class winners completed online against schools around the world and came in second place. The second capstone class placed first in the worldwide competition.

Wilber refuses to take credit for the NISOD recognition.

“I think I was nominated because our students made me look good,” she said.

Innovation in the Use of Technology

Brad Yourth, Instructor, College of Computer and Information Technology

Making course content as accessible and understandable as possible to students is of the utmost importance to Brad Yourth. His ANGEL shell for CGS 1000 is so well developed that many of his colleagues use the shell for their own sections.

One example of how he achieves this goal of accessibility is by making short, online instructional videos.

“I include QR codes in course content so students can view the videos with their mobile devices,” said Yourth, who likes to challenge his students to be creative and develop their own original programs.

He also utilizes Google Talk to connect with students during virtual office hours and supplements his course content with a blog to address issues that students may encounter when completing their assignments.

“I feel a bit nonplussed about this award because I know that many of my peers are at least equally deserving,” he said. “I am really just doing a job I love, and that is rewarding enough for me.”

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Steve Meier

Steve Meier

Steve Meier will receive the Phi Theta Kappa Lifetime Achievement Award for his 32 years of service and leadership as advisor for the honor society’s Eta Nu chapter at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. The award will be presented during the 2012 Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn. April 12-14.

This marks the first year the Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented, and Meier is one of two individuals chosen to receive the honor. The award, which recognizes exceptional dedication to the mission and programs of PTK and efforts to support student success over an extended period of time, is not expected to be presented annually.

Meier, who retired June 30 after serving as an SPC faculty member for 35 years, was honored and surprised to receive a letter from Rod A. Risley, PTK’s Executive Director, recognizing his service.

In his letter, Risley credits him with the overwhelming success of what has become one of the most engaged chapters in the organization’s history.

“Because of your leadership, the Eta Nu Chapter not only holds many records for awards and honors, but also pioneered the concept of student success through engagement in projects to support and sustain the college and local community,” Risley wrote.

“I was speechless,” Meier said. “I never expected anything like this. I am deeply touched and honored.

“What is special to me is that this is a first-time award and I’m one of the ones they’ve selected,” said Meier, who attended every international convention during his 32 years as chapter advisor. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this type of award given, especially for an advisor. This really is quite an honor.”

Since 1982, the Eta Nu chapter has ranked No. 1 in the state of Florida 21 times. The chapter also has ranked No. 1 internationally five times since 1986 and has received numerous awards throughout its 62-year history.

In October 2011, Meier received the 2011 Southern Regional Faculty Member Award from the Association of Community College Trustees.

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Sunita Kumari

Sunita Kumari

Sunita Kumari, professor of social science at the Seminole Campus, has been invited to join the Business Editorial Board for Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT).

“This is indeed an honor and the recognition is like the ‘icing on the cake,’ as I do love the work I do and enjoy the various activities and venues provided by the college for professional development,” she said.

Kumari earned a Bachelor of Science in economics and a Bachelor of Arts in economics and mathematics from the National University of Singapore. She also earned a master’s degree in information studies from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

In fall 2003, Kumari began her career at St. Petersburg College as a Professional-In-Charge, overseeing the joint use library at the Seminole Campus, the Seminole Community Library, the Campus Commons, the campus website and its online newsletter “The Nexus.” Since fall 2007, she began teaching micro and macroeconomics at the college.

Last year, she served as one of more than 200 Peer Reviewers for MERLOT from 18 systems and institutions of higher education. The peer review process of instructional technology is modeled after the peer review process for research and scholarship.

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Bill Maxwell

Writer, journalist and teacher Bill Maxwell has been teaching a course in freshman composition as an adjunct at St. Petersburg College. He wrote a column in Sunday’s St. Petersburg TIMES about the experience, and about why community colleges such as SPC are so essential to their communities.

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If you want to print out all the awards and accolades won over the years by the Eta Nu chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year colleges, be sure to bring plenty of paper; the single-spaced record spans 10 pages of regional, national and international recognition for excellence in many categories.

There are five PTK chapters at SPC, but Eta Nu – the 61-year-old chapter on the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus – is the oldest and, arguably, the most successful.Most members would be quick to trace the chapter’s record of regular success to its advisor, Steve Meier.

Steve Meier

Meier, an economics instructor at SPC for the past 35 years, plans to retire at the end of June. When he does, a remarkable 32-year record of spirited involvement with the Eta Nu chapter will come to an end.

His enthusiastic mentoring comes from his belief that Phi Theta Kappa is more than just an honor society; it is a platform for teaching the basic skills of success, skills that can stay with members long after they complete their educations.

“You need to have goals, and set up a plan to achieve those goals,” Meier said. “Those are the objectives of the society itself.”

Phi Theta Kappa encourages a belief in four basic hallmarks, Meier said – scholarship, leadership, service and fellowship. Members live by those hallmarks, and learn them through community-based projects. Working together on those projects, Meier said, can instill habits and commitments that can last a lifetime.

“These are the leaders of tomorrow, and the things they do in PTK can establish patterns of behavior that never change,” he said. “Things like Ronald McDonald House, and Junior Achievement, and going out and helping build a house for a low-income family – they get a great deal of gratification out of that. More than likely, they will stay involved in their communities.”

A couple of years ago, Meier realized that his career, and his involvement with Eta Nu, was nearing an end. He began searching for a successor. He found Jessica Magnani, an English instructor at St. Petersburg/Gibbs. Magnani has been Meier’s assistant advisor for the past two years. When he retires, she will assume the advisor role. (Communications instructor Margie Wikoff will serve as co-advisor.)

She knows they won’t be easy shoes to fill.

“He’s been the epitome of a student advisor and mentor,” Magnani said. “Over the last 32 years, he’s devoted himself to providing students with a myriad of opportunities for growth. His work has been the quiet, selfless work that often goes unrecognized – Steve’s content to see his students bask in the spotlight. He’s made an incredible impact on the lives of his students, and it’s the reason they all love him.

“His commitment to Eta Nu has made it one of the most, if not the most, successful chapters in the organization. Eta Nu has been the No. 1 chapter internationally five times in the last 20 years, something no other chapter in the organization has been able to accomplish. Among other advisors and those who work for Phi Theta Kappa International, Steve is well respected and much admired for the successes in which has lead the chapter.

“We’re all going to miss him terribly,” Magnani said.

If Meier has tried to operate as much as possible in the shadows, he knows how important the role of advisor is, and he realizes his lengthy tenure has paid some benefits.

“It helps to have an advisor who been there for a while and knows what it all about,” he said. “If you have high turnover in the advisor role, the chapter may not be as successful.”

Magnani has designed a full agenda for the coming year to keep Eta Nu in the forefront of PTK chapters.

“We’ll continue the celebration of National American Indian Heritage month in November,” she said. “We’re also working on a project that centers on improving college completion rates, as well as service projects and an Honors in Action project that the students design every year.

“We will certainly continue to be a Five-Star Chapter.”

Here are the awards that Eta Nu Chapter won at the most recent Phi Theta Kappa international gathering in Seattle last month:

  • Beta Alpha Continued Excellence Award (20th consecutive year)
  • Eighth Finalist for Most Distinguished Chapter (No. 9 ranking)
  • Distinguished College Project Award
  • Distinguished Honors in Action Project Award
  • Distinguished Honors in Action Issue Award – History and the Future
  • Distinguished Chapter Officer Award – Josh Ervin
  • Distinguished Chapter Member Award – Kathy Sands
  • Paragon Award for New Advisors – Jessica Magnani
  • Continued Excellence Award for Advisors – Steve Meie

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Dr. Joseph Smiley

Dr. Joseph Smiley, Dean of  Social and Behavioral Science, took a few minutes recently to talk about a range of subjects, from his recollections of a 30-year career at St. Petersburg College to what teaching means to him.  Also, he shared some insights about the role of the community college.

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Gary Robson is an adjunct professor of linguistics at SPC. His 15-year-old son Ray is not only a whiz at the game of chess — he is the youngest chess grandmaster in U.S. history. Read about him in this story in the Sarasota Herald Tribune:


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