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CLEARWATER - St. Paul’s School, at 1600 St. Paul’s Drive in Clearwater, celebrated the grand opening of its new, state-of-the-art middle school building with a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony.

According to Samantha Campbell, head of school at St. Paul’s, the renovation will not only improve the building’s spatial quality but also create a learning community to shape teaching and strengthen the social and emotional development of the students.

“In addition to upgrading our eight classrooms and adding a STEM lab, our underutilized spaces will be transformed into a cafe space for project work and large and small group gathering spaces for presentations,” Campbell said in a press release. “Our goal is to capitalize on our small classes by better enabling our teachers with new classroom arrangements and state of the art technology.”
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Pinellas County Schools recently was named a Ford Next Generation Learning Model Community, a milestone designation for preparing high school students for success in college, career and life.

As a Ford NGL Model Community, Pinellas County Schools will offer educational visits and workshops to other districts on how to transform their high schools and better prepare students for college, career and life. The designation includes a $25,000 grant from Ford Motor Company Fund, Ford’s philanthropic arm, which manages the Ford NGL program.

Ford NGL is nationally recognized for its unique model of career-themed academies that provide the foundation for high school students to learn academics through the lens of a potential career such as engineering, health care, technology and marketing. Ford NGL communities connect academy students with professionals currently working in their chosen field, providing valuable insight into the day-to-day challenges and the skills required for success.
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LARGO - The Pinellas Education Foundation hosted its Superintendent’s Report on Career and Technical Education at an Aug. 19 luncheon.

Community, business and educational leaders came together to hear from Superintendent Dr. Michael Grego on the latest news and successes regarding career education programs in Pinellas County Schools. In addition, Cheryl Carrier, program director of 21st Century Education Programs for Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, named Pinellas as a Ford Next Generation Learning Model Community

The luncheon drew more than 140 participants. Grego’s presentation focused on successes and challenges in the district’s career education programs. In 2013-14, the overall graduation rate for Pinellas County increased more than any other district in the region. Grego attributed the increase to the success of the Academies of Pinellas programs, which are proven to benefit all students enrolled. Grego noted that the academies are a true difference maker for male students who have had to overcome a larger gap (72 percent graduation rate for males compared to 82 percent for females). The overall graduation rate for Academies of Pinellas is 95 percent - 94 percent for females and 96 percent for males. Data shows that performance of males must improve in order to make significant gains in the overall graduation rate.
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ST. PETERSBURG - The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College, along with the Tampa Bay Times and WEDU, will co-sponsor A Community Conversation: Police and Citizens Seeking Common Ground, set for Thursday, Sept. 17, 6 to 8 p.m., at SPC’s Allstate Center, 3200 34th St. S.

Free pizza and soda will be served to those registered in advance.

All over the country, relations between police officers and the communities they serve are on edge, strained by the deaths of African American youths and men during confrontations with officers.
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Wednesday, August 27
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ST. PETERSBURG - Four bins filled with school supplies were donated to St. Petersburg’s Melrose Elementary School Aug. 21, courtesy of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

Through PSTA’s Operation Giveback, employees filled bins with notebooks, binders, pens, and pencils. PSTA employees decided to host the school supply drive as an opportunity to give back to the community.

“The donations came directly from bus operators, mechanics, and all of the other hardworking members of our team here at PSTA,” said Tamika White in a press release. White is a PSTA employee training and engagement generalist. “This was something they wanted to do.”
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ST. PETERSBURG - Monica Kile recently was named director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Eckerd College.

Kile will manage the program’s community of 1,400 lifelong learners, providing them and hundreds of nonmembers throughout Pinellas County with non-credit, non-degree granting classes, workshops, lectures, educational travel opportunities and social activities. Kile is a former executive director of St. Petersburg Preservation and Suncoast Tiger Bay Club and was special projects director for the Florida Humanities Council, coordinating cultural tourism and directing the FHC Teachers Center.
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CLEARWATER - Keiser University Clearwater recently announced that Jim Evans has joined the university as library director to further develop the growing library resources and to enhance services to the university and all communities in Pinellas County.

Evans comes with a wealth of experience within the profession, having spent 15 years in college, public and corporate library environments. His past positions include associate director for global information resources at Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago, system selection specialist at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, and librarian and general education chair at Ivy Tech State College in Columbus, Indiana. Evans’ other experience also includes teaching at Indiana University, the University of Tampa, and Hillsborough Community College.

“I am excited to start a new challenge with Keiser University and look forward to working with the students, faculty staff and community as they pursue their education and research,” Evans said in a press release. “I am fortunate to be joining such a respected institution that prides itself on a ‘students first’ philosophy.”
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Tuesday, August 19
School is about to begin and in my house, there is excitement and nervousness. This year, my oldest daughter will go into sixth grade.

I can’t believe how my little girl has grown up, especially this past year. It seems like just the other day, she was starting kindergarten. She was learning how to read, write and tie her shoes.

It’s a whole new chapter for not only my daughter, but for my husband and me. Sixth grade for most kids is middle school, which means a new school, new teachers and new students. It also means I have a lot more real-life issues I have to talk to my daughter about. Middle school is not elementary school. Today’s middle school students deal with sex, drugs, alcohol, bullying, suicide, rape and more.
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TARPON SPRINGS - With school almost back in session, the Rotary Club unveiled the new Tarpon Springs Middle School media center at a ribbon cutting on Aug. 13.

For almost a year, the Rotary Club of Tarpon Springs has been designing, measuring and constructing new furniture for the middle school media center, including colorful walls, decorative blocks, tables and a circulation desk for the media director.

“This has been a year in the making, with over 400 volunteer hours. Today is a celebration of its completion,” said Jean Coleman, the Rotary Club president. “It’s a light that’s going to reach lots of dark corners.”
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ST. PETERSBURG - Registration has opened for the 12th annual Eckerd College Writers’ Conference: Writers in Paradise, set for Jan. 16-23, 2016, in St. Petersburg.

Applications will be accepted through Nov. 15. The application fee is $25.

It is a selective admissions process based on writing samples and limited to fewer than 100 attendees. The conference offers a new and better understanding of the writing craft and solid ideas about how to find an agent and get published. The conference fee is $875.
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Tuesday, August 12
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PALM HARBOR - Christine Varkas tried to retire. She really, really tried, she joked. But it just wouldn’t take.

So now, she’s back to work, running the Soar School in East Lake and helping children with learning disabilities reach their true potential.

In 1983, Varkas started looking for Montessori schools for her children. Montessori education, developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, focuses on independence, freedom within limits and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical and social development. Per the Association Montessori Internationale and the American Montessori Society, seven elements are essential:
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ST. PETERSBURG - St. Petersburg College has announced four former teachers will be named professors emeriti. The professors, who are now retired or deceased, will be honored at the college’s annual Fall Faculty event at the Coliseum on Thursday, Aug. 13.

SPC honors select faculty members each year for outstanding contributions to the college and dedication to increasing student success.
 ... Read More 
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