USFSP Professor Presents Research at AERA


Dr. AnnMarie Alberton Gunn

USFSP Assistant Professor of Education, AnnMarie Alberton Gunn, Ph.D., presented research at the national conference of the American Education Research Association (AERA) in Philadelphia. Gunn’s presentation, “Teacher’s Moving Forward on Their Self-Cultural Awareness Spectrum: Museums and Diverse Children’s Literature,” attempts to answer this research question:

Does participation in a multicultural children’s literature course that includes a cultural literacy civic engagement project with the FL Holocaust Museum influence students’ teaching pedagogy?

It would appear that it does. “Initial findings show that our graduate students, most of whom are practicing teachers, are looking for issues of inequity when developing their own lesson plans,” said Gunn. “In turn, we’ll know better how these social and political issues may impact K-12 students.”

Next semester, Gunn will continue to measure impact by visiting the classrooms of former students. “What’s exciting is that in analyzing diverse, multicultural issues, my students are feeling more empowered to teach,” she said.

“Dr. Gunn’s work is having a measurable impact on the teachers in the College of Education’s graduate programs,” said Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D., interim regional vice chancellor of Academic Affairs. “Integrating research in multicultural children’s literature with community engagement with the Holocaust Museum is a notable example of the applied research for which USFSP faculty are becoming increasingly well-known.”

Teaching Math With Technology: Professor Presents at National Conference

Fueyo SunBay

Dr. Vivian Fueyo, USFSP College of Education and interim regional vice chancellor for Academic Affairs

How can innovative classroom technology combined with well-researched curriculum materials and intensive teacher training affect a middle school teacher’s ability to teach math concepts? How can it improve a student’s ability to learn them?

The answers to those questions were among research findings Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D., USFSP professor of Childhood Education and interim regional vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, delivered last week at the national meeting of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators in California. Fueyo and fellow researcher George Roy, P.h.D., University of South Carolina, presented “Teaching With Technology: Two Tiers of Professional Development,” pointing to their research on how the methods of SunBay Digital Mathematics can make a difference in middle-school mathematics instruction.

“We found that students of teachers using SunBay to teach key mathematical topics showed consistently higher learning than students taught by traditional means,” said Dr. Fueyo. “Gains were consistently higher for lower-performing students.”

The SunBay Digital Mathematics project aims to set the direction of the future of middle school mathematics education, specifically to increase student achievement in grades 6-8 on the major math topics of Florida’s Sunshine State Standards.

The project is collaboration between SRI International and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP), with funding support from the Duke Energy Foundation, the Next Generation Learning Challenges of the Gates Foundation, the Pinellas Education Foundation, and the Helios Foundation.

Florida Studies nature writing series planned at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

USF St. Petersburg Associate Professor of English Thomas Hallock, Ph.D., is organizing a series of public readings and discussions at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve this spring focused on nature writing. They will read selections from their non-fiction work.

Associate Professor of English Thomas Hallock, Ph.D. | Photo by Aaron Alper, '12.

Associate Professor of English Thomas Hallock, Ph.D. | Student Photo by Aaron Alper, ’12.

Titled “Writers in the Preserve,’’ this three-day series is organized around the theme, “How Do We Find Nature in the City?”

The series is co-sponsored by the USFSP Florida Studies Program, the College of Arts and Sciences and Friends of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. It is co-organized by Boyd Hill ranger Andrea Andersen.

On February 21, Hallock joins award-winning Tampa Bay Times writer Jeff Klinkenberg, journalist Cathy Salustri, a USFSP Florida Studies graduate, and Wendy Joan Biddlecombe, a staff writer for Hernando Today/Tampa Tribune and a USFSP journalism master’s graduate.

On March 28, poets Gianmarc Manzione, Gloria Muñoz and Brian Duncan will lead a poetry night hike through the Preserve.

The series concludes on April 11 with “13 Ways of Looking at a City: Community Gathering,” as writers, environmentalists and community advocates celebrate the natural and built environment of south St. Petersburg.

“This lecture series demonstrates the extraordinary talent at USF St. Petersburg and our commitment to engaging the community with provocative programming,’’ said Frank Biafora, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I commend Dr. Hallock for his creative leadership.”

Each event is free and open to the public and starts at 7 p.m. For more information contact Thomas Hallock at or (727) 873-4954. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve (727-893-7326) is located at 1101 Country Club Way S. in St. Petersburg.

Cutting the ribbon at the Jeanne and Bill Heller Scholars’ Lounge are left to right) Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, Poynter Library Dean Carol Hixson, Jeanne Heller, Campus Board Member Judy Mitchell, Bill Heller, Campus Board Chair Debbie Sembler, Campus Board member Roy Binger and USF System President Judy Genshaft.

Large crowd on hand for dedication of Jeanne and Bill Heller Scholars’ Lounge

College of Education Dean Bill Heller and his wife, Jeanne, love libraries. They also love USF St. Petersburg.

That combination prompted the Hellers to provide support for the new Jeanne and Bill Heller Scholars’ Lounge at the USFSP Nelson Poynter Memorial Library.

More than 100 people turned out Tuesday for a formal dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony at the new study area, where students already were cramming for final presentations and exams.

Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska thanked the Hellers for their dedication to the library and commitment to USFSP. “Bill Heller is beloved in this community,’’ she said. “We are very fortunate to work with him.’’

USF System President Judy Genshaft pointed out that the Scholars’ Lounge is just one of many donations the Hellers have made to USFSP over 21 years, including a scholarship fund for education students. “Giving is just so important,’’ she said. “As the saying goes, first you learn, then you earn and then you return. Thank you for doing all of the above.”

Poynter Library Dean Carol Hixson said the lounge, which looks out over Bayboro Harbor and Poynter Park and features modern furnishings enclosed by glass walls, is “already highly coveted by students.” And that was exactly what the Hellers wanted.

“Bill and Jeanne Heller have lived their lives together in service to others,” Hixson said. The lounge is designed to be an oasis from the busy group study areas of the library’s first floor. An inscription on one glass wall, she said, is so appropriate: “Our gift to students and the USFSP Community. Study, relax and enjoy!”

Dean Heller thanked everyone for attending the ceremony and for all that he and his wife have received from USFSP. “You contributed an awful lot to us,’’ he said. “I love this place.”

He also asked audience members to do their part to support the library. “It has always been the academic heart of the campus and you need to keep that heart healthy by supporting the good work this library is doing,” he said.

Dr. Heller recalls many hours in the college library pursuing his doctorate in special education. “When I wasn’t home,” he says, “I was at the library.”

Mrs. Heller, a retired elementary school librarian, loves modern libraries. “I started going to libraries when I was 6 years old,” Mrs. Heller says. “Back then all you could do was read and borrow books. Nowadays you can do almost anything in a library.”

That is especially true at the USFSP library, which has been reimagined for the digital age by Dean Hixson. Dr. Heller sees the Scholars’ Lounge as another step in the library’s evolution.

“This library has really become a gathering place for students and the university community,” Dr. Heller explains. “They can study, read, work in groups or alone and have access to the latest technology. I just love to see the library buzzing.”

And the place was really buzzing Tuesday during the final run-up to exam week. Senior accounting major Alex Wilson was among a group of students preparing a presentation for a business class. He appreciated all the the new lounge has to offer. “It’s actually pretty quiet in here,” he said. Gesturing toward the waterfront, he added, “And you have the scenery.”

The Hellers, married for 59 years, have given generously to the USF System for over 21

College of Education Dean Bill Heller and Jeanne Heller

College of Education Dean Bill Heller and Jeanne Heller

years, with gifts to the library, athletics, Latino Scholarship and the USF St. Petersburg College of Education.The H. William Heller Scholarship in Special Education is special to them.

“I know how much scholarships meant to me,” says Dr. Heller, whose family could not afford college. “And I know how much it means to students today trying to make ends meet.”

Toi Basso is one who benefited from the Heller Scholarship. “If I had not received this scholarship my education would have stopped,” she said. Instead, she graduated magna cum laude in May of 2013 and begins teaching this fall at Deltona Elementary in Spring Hill. “I am so grateful for that scholarship.”

Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska praised the Hellers for their dedication to USFSP. “Their generosity is inspiring,” she said. “The entire university community, and particularly our students, will benefit for years to come thanks to the contributions they have made.”

Vision Team members conduct a mind mapping exercise

Strategic planning at USF St. Petersburg moves forward

The strategic planning process at USF St. Petersburg moved forward in earnest Monday night when a diverse team of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members gathered at the University Student Center.

More than 70 members of the Vision Team spent three stimulating hours discussing critical issues facing USF St. Petersburg and higher education. In addition to students, faculty, staff and alumni, the group includes local business leaders, partners, friends, and representatives from local schools and the USF System.

The team is meeting again today for an all-day session and will meet several more times during the coming months.

In addition, open forums for faculty, students, staff and other groups will take place early in the new year to broaden the discussion. To see a roadmap of upcoming events and learn more about the process, please visit

As Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska told the vision team Monday night, the goal of this process is to lay the groundwork for a vision for USFSP that focuses our resources to have a powerful impact in Pinellas County and beyond.