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Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Student paralyzed in motorcycle accident returns to studies

Jason Strickland
Jason Strickland

Many have heard the analogy that life is like a card game: how well things end depend on what we do with the hand we’ve been dealt. This is Jason Allen Robert Strickland’s analogy for life.

Strickland, 26, a St. Petersburg College student, has been dealt several tough hands that could have left him bitter and angry, from the tough circumstances of personal family tragedies to the life-altering motorcycle accident on Oct. 14, 2005.

While returning from classes at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, where he studied business, Strickland was cut off by another driver, causing his motorcycle to swerve and hit a tree. The accident left him paralyzed with a complete spinal cord injury, the same injury suffered by actor Christopher Reeves.

Strickland, who lives in Seminole with an aunt he calls mom, Sarah Thompson, was told by doctors that due to the location of his injury, he would be unable to move from the neck down and would require a breathing machine for the rest of his life. Doctors also suggested the family consider a nursing home for Strickland.

“I’m very grateful my family never considered this option,” said Strickland, who, after three months in ICU and six months of physical therapy, went home in a wheelchair without a respirator.

“I am a very stubborn person, you tell me that I’m not going to be able to do something then most likely I’m going to think of a way to make it possible,” he said.

After many surgeries and countless hours of therapy, Strickland said he realized that he needed to focus on other things and decided to return to his studies at SPC, first online, and now six hours in a classroom at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, where he initially enrolled to meet new people. Strickland has since changed his major and is working toward his associate degree to pursue a career in mechanical engineering.

“The limitations presented by my injury don’t keep me from remaining active and preparing for my future,” he said. “I realized that I will need to be able to provide for myself someday, so I started taking courses at SPC. I will attend USF for my last two years.”

Strickland continues to overcome. Today, his mobility has improved so much that his diagnosis has been changed from a ‘complete’ to an ‘incomplete’ spinal cord injury with the possibility of further progression. Strickland has remained committed to his weekly water therapy and in-home physical therapy sessions and now is able to stand with little or no assistance. It’s a tremendous achievement that not only makes his mother proud, but also brings tears to her eyes.

“People give up too easily if something is hard, anybody can give up,” he said. “I don’t think anyone has an excuse when it comes to anything. I feel if you set your mind, amazing things can happen and you can accomplish anything. You may not always get the best hand in life, but you make the best out of that hand because you never know what’s going to be next. You improvise and overcome.”

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Geeks unite! Sci-fi and comic book guru to visit SP/G

Daniel Wallace
Daniel Wallace

Embrace your inner geek and come to hear Daniel Wallace, internationally renowned comic book expert and sci-fi genius, and self-proclaimed life-long geek, who will speak at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus on Sept. 23 at 11 a.m.

Wallace, who works as Associate Media Director, Digital DNA at Haworth Marketing + Media, in Minneapolis, graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in advertising. He has authored and co-authored more than two dozen books, including “The Art of Superman Returns,” “The DC Comics Chronicle,” “The Marvel Encyclopedia” and the New York Times bestseller “Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters.”

“I’ve been writing for 15 years or so, doing a lot of freelance and a lot of publishing sci-fi things and comics-related projects,” said Wallace, who had been working in the automobile industry advertising when he began writing.

He partly attributes his successful start to luck and good timing.

“I had some contacts at Lucasfilm” Wallace said about the film company that produced Star Wars. “As a fan – not as a paid writer – I created a guide for other fans about Star Wars planets and somebody at Lucasfilm had seen it and said, ‘Wow, this is really detailed and comprehensive, and a lot of research has gone into this’.”

“I wanted to audition to create a licensed book that was gonna be about planets, and I ended up getting that,” he said. “It’s also just a coincidence that the people at Lucasfilm were really looking for a researcher and writer to tackle this particular topic and it was something I’d already done a lot of groundwork on.”

Wallace, who connected with his fan side through the Internet in the mid-90s, posted the guide on America Online’s file libraries. He thinks this helped make him more visible. “Not everyone was using the Internet, and so it’s kind of a sense of uniqueness that you could get discovered that way,” he said.

In the years since, he has expanded his writing to include a greater breadth of topics.

“I’ve done a lot of things, even on the basic level, like magazine work or longer work such as making an encyclopedia and things like that,” Wallace said. “Now, I do a lot of researching and writing within popular entertainment. That would be things like ‘Star Wars,’ DC Comics and Marvel Comics; TV shows like ‘Smallville’ and ‘Supernatural,’ and ‘Indiana Jones’.”

When he visits the college on Sept. 23, he will speak to students, staff and the community about his writing and creative processes, share behind-the-scenes stories about Star Wars and his visit to Skywalker Ranch – Lucasfilm headquarters – and host trivia games with giveaways.

The event is funded by the Friends of the West Community Library at SPC and will be in the campus Music Center. Oh, and don’t forget your Jedi costume.

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Institutional Research and Effectiveness wins 2011 Exemplary Practice Award

Maggie Tymms and Jesse Coraggio
Maggie Tymms and Jesse Coraggio

The college’s Institutional Research and Effectiveness department has been honored by the Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) Institutional Effectiveness Planning and Professional Development (IEPPD) commission.

SPC was named the winner of the 2011 Exemplary Practice Award for its Development of an Institutional Online General Education Assessment Model.

Polk State College placed second and Indian River State College third. Only the three finalists made actual presentations.

Jesse Coraggio, Executive Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness and Maggie Tymms, Associate Director of Assessment, presented SPC’s Institutional Online General Education Assessment Model to the judges. The assessment model was designed to evaluate the quality of the general education curriculum and identify areas for performance improvement by assessing students who are near completion of their degree program.

Students who complete 45 credit hours are invited to participate in an 50-item online assessment, consisting of 10 items from each of SPC’s five general education goals: Critical Thinking, Communications, Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning, Information and Technology Fluency and Global Socio-Cultural Responsibility. The intent of the enhanced assessment model is to evaluate the college’s general education outcomes to ensure that graduates have retained the necessary competencies.

“We’ve built our own internal test format,” Coraggio said. “This assessment is designed to focus on what competencies students have retained.”

Coraggio said the “presentations were done online through web conferencing, so other colleges didn’t get to see the other colleges’ presentation. To me, it was disappointing because we learn from programs and it’s about sharing and disseminating information.”

The presentation will be made again at the AFC annual convention Oct. 25-28 in Naples.

“I think that our general education assessment is truly a best practice and it is a process that other colleges may be interested in adopting,” Tymms said. “This model has greatly enhanced our ability to assess the general education curriculum and provides opportunity for continuous improvement.”

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Elizabeth Baker

Student composer’s works to be performed by student, faculty musicians

A unique musical experience is scheduled at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus on Thursday, Sept. 22, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Music Center.

Traditional music students and Fine Arts piano faculty will perform a concert of piano solos. But don’t expect to hear the works of Bach or Beethoven. The student and faculty musicians will perform the original compositions of Elizabeth Ann Baker, one of the college’s Music Industry/Recording Arts majors.

Baker, 23, a former traditional music major at SPC specializing in classical guitar, transferred to Florida Southern College before returning to SPC’s MIRA program. She has studied piano with Luis Sanchez, Carolyn McGovern, Eileen Mattioli, Andrew McCardle and now studies with Jeff Donovick, Associate Professor of Fine & Applied Arts at St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. She also has studied classical guitar with SPC guitar faculty member Eddy Lugo.

Music always has played an important role in her life. She began playing piano when she was five, which also is about the time she began composing.

“Composing music is really just natural... It’s like asking, ‘Why do you breathe?’ because for me, I can’t just picture myself doing anything else,” Baker said. “When I don’t compose, I get really depressed. It’s a compulsion; I get these ideas in my brain and I have to write them down.”

She views her works as a series of musical paintings, each piece having many small and large meanings. But in the compositions, she writes very few musical or inflectional cues for the performers to follow.

“I want the performer to connect with the piece and interpret it in a way that is organic to them,” she said. “To me, that is the truest sense of making the piece come to life.”

The performance will feature Baker’s original acoustic and electro-acoustic solo piano compositions. The music will be accompanied by motion pictures created by Chip Neville, an instructor in the Digital Arts Program at the Seminole Campus, in conjunction with live sound reinforcement by MIRA students.

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Theresa “Terri” Kontodiakos
Terri Kontodiakos

Kontodiakos elected to CSEC Steering Committee

Theresa “Terri” Kontodiakos, Baccalaureate Recruiter for Enrollment Management at the District Office, has been selected to fill the Student Support position for Epi Center/District Office within the Career Service Employee Council. The election was finalized Tuesday, Sept. 13. She has been with the college eight years.

Each campus has three steering committee members, each member representing one of the three main categories of career staff: Facilities, Administrative Support and Student Support. The Student Support position had been vacant for several weeks.

 

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Attendees at the opening session of the 2010 Fall Critical Thinking Institute for Teaching & Learning at the Health Education Center.
Attendees at the opening session of the 2010 Fall Critical Thinking Institute for Teaching & Learning at the Health Education Center.

Critical Thinking Institute for Teaching & Learning is Sept. 23

Registration continues on Friday, Sept. 23 for the ninth institute devoted to enhancing student learning by improving students’ ability to think critically. It is scheduled from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Arts Auditorium at the Clearwater Campus. The institute is free for all full- and part-time faculty and staff.

This is expected to be the largest institute to date with more sessions including facilitated break-outs devoted to discipline-specific discussions. The Opening Session will kick off with SPC’s Laptop Ensemble and also will feature a plenary session by Bill Hemme, Interim Department Chair of Mathematics, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus; Cher Gauweiler, faculty, College of Education, Tarpon Springs; Ginny Price, faculty, Veterinary Technology; and Matthew Bodie, Team Leader, Library, Clearwater.

Review the agenda and session descriptions and register online.

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9/11 Discussion panel at Clearwater Campus Sept. 21

On Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., the Clearwater Campus Social and Behavioral Sciences Department will host a panel discussion in observance of the 9/11 anniversary. The event, which is open to all SPC students and staff, will be in the Arts Auditorium.

Discussion theme: A Decade Later: Intelligence Gathering, Law Enforcement, and Immigration changes after 9/11. The three-person panel will discuss the degree to which their respective agencies were involved in combating terrorism before Sept. 11, changes that have since been made to those agencies and how they continue to fight, and their level and the level of cooperation between the federal agencies.

Panel members are James Lambert, Group Supervisor, National Security/Rapid Response Team, Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations; Richard Worms, Supervisory Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tampa Office; and William Daniels, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida.

For more information about the panel, contact Roy Slater, Instructor of Social Sciences at the Clearwater Campus.

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SPC in the News


SPC President Bill Law was quoted in a recent Palm Beach Post story on Florida student loan defaults rise.


Man who sues Florida for right to flash headlights is SPC Tarpon Springs student. Times columnist Sue Carlton also wrote a column about Erich Campbell’s fight.


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SPC honors 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 at Allstate Center and Clearwater Campus

At the Allstate Center, St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon spoke about the heartache his department has faced in the past year with the loss of three of its officers in a three week period of time. He said that knowing how much that hurt, he could not imagine how devastating a blow it must have been to New York City police and fire departments who lost so many of their family members so quickly on Sept. 11.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, the Clearwater Campus A relic from one of the World Trade Center towers was presented at the Clearwater Campus

Top left: An unidentified honor guard bagpiper performs at the Allstate Center 9/11 remembrance ceremony on Sept. 9.

Top right: St. Petersburg Police Chief Chuck Harmon spoke about the heartache his department has faced in the past year with the loss of three of its officers in a three-week period. He said that knowing how much that hurt, he could not imagine how devastating a blow it must have been to New York City police and fire departments who lost so many of their family members so quickly on Sept. 11.

Bottom left: Between 150 and 200 people attended the 9/11 First Responders event at the Clearwater Campus on Sunday, Sept. 11. Participants included the SPC Veterans Association. From left: Enrique Bernal, U.S. Navy veteran; Mike Paskas, U.S. Marine Corps veteran; Nick Flowers, President of the Clearwater Veterans Association, U.S. Army National Guard; three unidentified members of the Dunedin High School Navy Junior ROTC battalion; Tracy Hudson, retired Air Force veteran; an unidentified person and Corey Burris.

Bottom right: A twisted, burned relic from one of the World Trade Center towers was presented to the Clearwater first responders, including the Clearwater Fire and Police departments. Pictured above are representatives of the Clearwater Fire Honor Guard.

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Collegewide Facilities Olympic competition makes work fun

From left: Hanh Pham and Kenny Patrick prove strong competition as the team representing the Allstate Center. The broom segment was one of five phases of the competition, which are geared toward team-building exercises and just having fun. The event, which began four years ago as a custodial event, has expanded to include all of Facilities. Between 80 and 100 people were expected to attend.
From left: Hanh Pham and Kenny Patrick prove strong competition as the team representing the Allstate Center. The broom segment was one of five phases of the timed competition, which is geared toward team-building exercises and just having fun. The event, which began four years ago as a custodial event, has expanded to include all of Facilities. Between 80 and 100 people attended. This year it was held in the conference room at the Seminole Campus.
From left: President Bill Law and teammate TJ Beelman compete as the “Mystery Team” in the Facilities Olympics Tuesday, Sept. 13. The exercise required loading the boxes onto the dolly, wheeling them to a table where they would be arranged so that the graphics on them would create a circle when combined.
President Bill Law and teammate TJ Beelman compete as the "Mystery Team" in the Facilities Olympics Tuesday, Sept. 13. The exercise required loading the boxes onto the dolly, wheeling them to a table where they would be arranged so that the graphics on them would create a circle when combined.

Gary Clay, Mechanical Tradesworker at the Health Education Center, catches a roll of toilet paper tossed by HEC teammate Wendy Ruble-Theocharakis (not pictured) in the final phase of the competition.
Gary Clay, Mechanical Tradesworker at the Health Education Center, catches a roll of toilet paper tossed by HEC teammate Wendy Ruble-Theocharakis (not pictured) in the final phase of the competition.

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Professional Development banner

Estate and Insurance Planning Workshops

Professional Development is offering workshops on estate and insurance planning taught by representatives from the Florida Retirement System (FRS).

Sessions for this term:

Workshop Offerings Workshop Title

Sept. 23, 9 to 10:30 a.m.,
Clearwater Campus
Oct. 14, 9 to 10:30 a.m.,
St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

Estate Planning
The passing of a loved one can be the most traumatic time in a person's life. Would you or your loved ones know what to do in the event of a death? This course will provide information about:

  • Estate planning basics
  • Myths of estate planning
  • How estate planning can ensure assets get passed as you intend
  • How to take care of your survivors’ needs
  • The importance of health care directives and other legal documents, as well as a basic understanding of the transfer tax system

Sept. 23, 11 to 12:30 p.m., Clearwater Campus
Oct. 14, 11 to 12:30 p.m.,
St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

Insurance Planning
Life deals us many unexpected challenges. Since all risk cannot be eliminated, you must protect yourself and your family from the dangers you face every day. This course:

  • Examines various insurance products as a way to protect your assets and income in the event of a death, medical problems, aging, disability, property loss/damage or being sued
  • Identifies your personal risks
  • Informs how insurance can help give you financial peace of mind

Register for the estate and insurance planning workshops through SPC’s online training system. To access this program, login to the SPC training system and go to the Catalog, click the “Instructor Led Training” folder and select the “Financial Planning and Retirement” folder. Otherwise, you can search by keywords “Florida Retirement System”. For more information on signing in or registering for an instructor led course, view our video tutorials.

Employees will have the opportunity to attend one or all of the offerings. If you have questions or need more information, contact Coordinator Anamarie Root in Professional Development at 727-341-3116.

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Welcome to SPC

SPC welcomes its newest faculty, staff and administrators to the college family. Below are some of the new faces.

Charles “Charlie” Mascenik

 

Charles “Charlie” Mascenik

Position: Security Officer, Campus Security, Tarpon Springs Campus

Previous position/employer: Director of Safety and Security, University of Tampa

Hobbies: Golf, fishing and sports

Irene Torres

 

Irene Torres

Position: Nursing Skills Facilitator, College of Nursing, Health Education Center

Previous position/employer: Adjunct, Pasco-Hernando Community College; also worked at Helen Ellis Hospital (per diem)

Hobbies: Dancing, swimming and traveling

Sumati Villaman

 

Sumati Villaman

Position: Instructor, International Language Institute, Corporate Training, Epi Center

Previous position/employer: Adjunct Instructor, Clearwater Campus

Hobbies: Swimming, reading and jigsaw puzzles

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SPC Wellness banner

Wellness Challenge begins Monday, Sept. 26

The Spring 2011 Wellness Challenge College-Wide Team Champion Born to Lose.  Pictured left to right:  Yulonder Betts, Connie Boyle, Martha Dessipe, and Ian Call.
The Spring 2011 Wellness Challenge Collegewide Team Champion Born to Lose. Pictured from left: Yulonder Betts, Connie Boyle, Martha Dessipe, and Ian Call.

Grab your sneakers. The fall 2011 Wellness Challenge steps off Monday, Sept. 26. The biannual event brings employees from all over the college together to promote healthy behaviors and practices. This six-week competition challenges individuals to eat healthier, become more physically active, reduce stress and make decisions to enhance personal wellness.

Last spring, the SPC’S Wellness Advisory Board added some new categories to keep things fresh, including: Mental Exercises, Random Acts of Kindness and Wellness Promotion. SPC employees experienced some fantastic results. Check out these positive employee testimonials from the spring 2011 Wellness Challenge.

This fall, there is an option to earn points by just reading the Wellness Works employee newsletter. Descriptions of these categories and complete competition rules can be found on the official fall 2011 Wellness Challenge tracker sheet.

The expanded team rosters also are back. Wellness Challenge teams may have 3-12 members. Creating a departmental team is a perfect opportunity to reenergize the office. Team scores will be averaged to determine winners.

Each campus will be awarded individual and team winners. All winners will receive a “wellness-based” award. There are also awards for our collegewide individual and team champions and a designation as the “Healthiest Campus” for the campus that gains the highest average score.

Participation in the fall challenge is worth 20 points in the fall Wellness Warriors Rewards Program. Earning 20 points qualifies as automatic bronze level achiever. Check out the prizes on the fall 2011 Wellness Warriors Rewards List.

Pre-registration is required. Contact Steve Malla, Wellness Coordinator, at 727-341-3083 for more information.

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SPC Changes

Promotions, retirements and changes within the college

SPC congratulates faculty, staff and administrators on their recent promotions and transfers.

Almelyn “Alms” Herran, OPS in the Associate Provost Office at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, has accepted a position as Staff Assistant in Special Programs at the same location effective Sept. 19.

Janette Hunt, Senior Accountant at Epi Services, has accepted a position as Coordinator of Budget Support & Development for Fiscal Management at the District Office effective Oct. 17.

Frank Jurkovic, International Programs Specialist at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, has accepted a position as Coordinator of Student Life and Leadership in Academic & Student Affairs at SPC Downtown/Midtown effective Oct. 3.

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Sick Leave Pool enrollment ends Sept. 15

If an accident or illness causes you to use all your college sick leave and vacation time, you can turn to the college’s Sick Leave Pool to get paid for an additional 45 days if you join now.

More than 723 SPC employees have joined the Sick Leave Pool.

Enrollment for this year continues until tomorrow.

You are eligible to enroll if you are a budgeted employee who has worked at the college for at least one year and has accrued nine sick days. To enroll, you will make a one-time contribution of five of those sick days into the pool. Eligible employees should have been notified by HR via e-mail.

If you have questions, please contact Anh Nunag at 727-341-3044.

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Tech Tip of the Week

Recovering Files in Windows 7

Have you accidentally deleted a file and then are unable to find it in the Recycle Bin? Windows 7 has provided a solution for you to recover your files by restoring a previous version of a folder. This method also works if changes were made to a document and you want to recover a previous version.

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Reminder: BOT agenda, presentations available online

The agenda, supporting materials, videos and highlights of all Board of Trustees meetings are available online. This includes presentations made at the board meetings.

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Meeting notices

Board of Trustees updates
SPC encourages open access to all Board of Trustees information. Organized by date, the BOT website serves as an ongoing record of all BOT meetings and decisions, and includes the most current information on:

  • Board meeting schedules, legal notices, agendas, rule development notices, supplemental board materials, meeting minutes and highlights
  • Official board rules
  • Board member profiles and terms of service

New – Oct. 17, 2011 – Notice of meeting and rules hearing
New – Sept. 20, 2011 – Meeting agenda – Complete board packet with supporting documentation
Rule Development Notice Aug. 26, 2011
Sept. 20, 2011 – Notice of meeting and rules hearing

The Development Committee for the Board of Directors of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art will meet on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 3 p.m. in the museum’s Interactive Gallery to discuss general business.

The Alumni Association Board for the SPC Alumni Association will meet on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. in District Office Room 102 to discuss general business.

The Ad Hoc Committee of the Board of Directors for the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art will meet on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011 at 8 a.m. in the museum’s Interactive Gallery to discuss general business.

The Collection Committee for the Board of Directors of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art will meet on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 12:45 p.m. in the museum’s Interactive Gallery to discuss general business.

The Education and Outreach Committee for the Board of Directors of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art will meet on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus to tour the music department and discuss general business.

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