Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska (left) and COQEBS President Ricardo Davis.

USF St. Petersburg hosts breakfast for Concerned Organizations for Quality Education for Black Students

For the fourth year in a row, USF St. Petersburg hosted a breakfast on Wednesday for leaders of the Concerned Organizations for Quality Education for Black Students (COQEBS) to discuss their ongoing collaboration to improve student readiness in Pinellas County schools.

COQEBS is a coalition of community organizations and individuals working to ensure the Pinellas County School District is providing quality education for black students. James McHale, Ph.D., USFSP psychology professor and director of the Family Study Center, is a member of COQEBS and works closely with the group’s School Readiness Committee.

Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska welcomed the group to the breakfast and discussed her commitment to student success and the importance of community partners such as COQEBS. “With a sound education, you can accomplish anything,” she said.

COQEBS President Ricardo Davis thanked Dr. Wisniewska and USFSP for its ongoing support of the coalition’s work and Dr. McHale for the work he has done to promote infant child readiness.

Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska (left), Psychology Department Chairman James McHale and COQEBS President Ricardo Davis.

Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska (left), Psychology Department Chairman James McHale and COQEBS President Ricardo Davis.

Dr. McHale discussed the success of the Baby Talk workshops the Family Study Center has conducted in partnership with the COQEBS School Readiness Committee for the past three years.

Getting children socially and emotionally ready for school starts when the child is an infant, McHale said. He said the aims of the Baby Talk workshops are to help child-care providers make changes in the way they approach and work with infants and toddlers, to help them become “safe, secure and powerful” children ready to learn when they are old enough for school.

He also discussed an innovative prenatal co-parenting program for African-American parents called Figuring It Out for the Child (FIOC), which has to date served two dozen families in south Pinellas County. The program helps moms and dads find ways to work together to raise their child even if they are not married or romantically involved. Every expectant father who has completed the 10-session program so far has remained committed to the baby and mom at post-natal follow-up, he said.

Figuring It Out for the Child is the subject of a new publication by McHale and Vikki Gaskin-Butler, USFSP psychology instructor and Co-Investigator for the FIOC project. The article, in the July issue of the Zero to Three journal, published by the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, details one remarkable family’s successful journey through the FIOC program.

Family Study Center research has been funded since 2003 by a series of grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Development and by the Brady Education Foundation.

Fairmount Park Elementary students peer into a microscope during the Bridge to Success science camp with the help of Dr. Heather Judkins.

First College of Education Bridge to Success science camp a big success

More than 30 students from Fairmount Park Elementary School in St. Petersburg are wrapping up a six-week science camp at USF St. Petersburg this week that grew out of a partnership between the school and the College of Education.

The students peered into microscopes in a biology lab, toured a marine science research vessel, learned about shells during a trip to Fort De Soto Park, went kayaking and sailing from the USFSP Waterfront, snorkeled at Lassing Park and had a close encounter with birds of prey courtesy of the Audubon Society.

They also took swimming lessons, wrote in their journals, spent two hours a day working on math and science lessons and had fun along the way.

Many of them had never been on a boat before and most were not proficient swimmers. “The camp allows these students to have hands-on experiences they wouldn’t get at school or at home,” said Tiffani Vinson, Fairmount Park’s science coach, who earned a master’s degree at USFSP.

Our students doing science in the park

Our students doing science in the park

USFSP students worked as camp counselors and Fairmount Park teachers joined them as coaches.

The goal of the “Bridge to Success” camp is to keep the rising fourth and fifth grade students’ minds engaged with science and math during the long summer break so they will be ready when the fall semester begins next month.

It also showed the students what a university is like, said camp director Fred Bennett.

“It gives them the idea that college is possible, it’s not too far-fetched,” said Bennett.

Many of the students’ families have little experience with higher education. “They’re not necessarily thinking about college,” said Khana Riley, a Fairmount Park fourth-grade teacher. “I think this is doing a real good job of putting it in their minds.”

Fairmount Park Elementary students having fun during the Bridge to Success science camp.

Fairmount Park Elementary students having fun during the Bridge to Success science camp.

It also teaches the students leadership skills, including how to speak in public and behave in ways that set examples for other students, said Casey Maker, a 2012 USFSP graduate and third grade teacher at Fairmount Park. “We hope we are making some academic leaders here,” he said.

The USFSP education students who work as camp counselors also benefit, said Nikita Shivers, a fifth grade teacher at Fairmount who graduated from USFSP in 2008. “I think it’s a great collaboration,” she said.

And the Fairmount Park teachers benefit, too.

“These college students remind me of why I went into teaching in the first place,” said Sam Mincey, a fifth-grade Fairmount teacher. “It re-energizes me.”

Fairmount Park Elementary is considered one of Pinellas County’s most challenging schools because of high poverty rates and low FCAT scores. The USFSP College of Education worked closely with teachers and administrators at the school this year, sending faculty, staff and students to volunteer as tutors and coaches.

“We have become part of the Fairmount Park Elementary School family and look forward to continuing our collaborative partnership with the school during the forthcoming year as well as subsequent years,” said College of Education Dean Bill Heller “The partnership has really been very beneficial to both sides and it has been particularly great for our teacher education students and other students across the university as well.”

Education student wins four track events in National Veterans Wheelchair Games

UPDATE: Dwayne Scheuneman won all four track events he entered on Monday, July 15. He also won medals in three field events: Gold for discus, silver for javelin and silver for shot put. His rugby team won both games and have another round on Thursday.

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Dwayne Scheuneman is always on the move. Whether he’s dancing, racing, or studying, he approaches life with a high level of energy.

That’s why when the Navy veteran injured himself in a swimming pool accident more than 15 years ago, his first words after realizing he was paralyzed were, “Game on.”

It’s with that vigor that Scheuneman approaches all of life’s challenges – from traveling across town in the snow on a bus in Buffalo, N.Y., or teaching a classroom full of children at St. Petersburg’s Great Explorations preschool. He currently is pursuing his Elementary Education degree at USF St. Petersburg.

His decision to move away from the snowy climate in the North led him to the Tampa Bay area, where he has found an incredible support system within the Haley Veterans Hospital as well as the USF community.

“So I raced in Jacksonville for about a year, and that is just where I started figuring out the whole track and field scene, and when I was there I heard that James A. Haley had a whole unit for spinal cord injuries and decided to move to Tampa in 2000,” said Scheuneman.

Dwayne Scheuneman is studying Elementary Education.

Dwayne Scheuneman is studying Elementary Education. Photo: K. Hennig

His racing days were just beginning – his competitive nature kicked in and he was hooked. He raced for several years and participated in the Veterans Wheelchair Games in Los Angeles in 2003. He stresses the importance of having an active lifestyle and what the Veterans Wheelchair Games can provide to vets.

“It’s an opportunity for disabled vets. The importance of the game is it really is an outlet, helping vets dealing with injuries, and as the recreational therapist at VA tells me, you can maximize your potential, find that o­utlet,” said Scheuneman.

Scheuneman got involved with dance and became so passionate about teaching children and adults with mixed abilities that he started his own dance company, REVolutions, leaving his track days behind.

He performs all over the country and has been collaborating with USF’s Dance department for more than 10 years, including a project called The Rolling Dance Chair.

Dwayne on the track

Dwayne on the track. Photo: K. Hennig

It was only when he was dealing with a recent shoulder impingement that he started to go back to the VA for occupational therapy. He then learned the 33rd Veterans Wheelchair Games would be held in Tampa, and his competitive spirit kicked in.

“I thought the games are here in Tampa, I want to represent Tampa, and the Tampa VA has always been supportive of me, so I’ll compete in these games. I don’t know if I’ll keep racing after that. Since I’ve been training I’ve started to think maybe I can dance and race, so that’s where I am today,” says Scheuneman.

The events he’ll be participating in are the 100, 200 and 400-meter track events, which will be Monday, July 15, at 8 a.m. at Jefferson High School in Tampa. Also, he’ll swim in the 100 freestyle at the Long Center in Clearwater at 7 p.m. Monday, July 15th, and play in a few rugby matches, which are throughout the week.

Learn more about the 33rd Veterans Wheelchair Games in Tampa and view a schedule of events.

HarborNotes Plus Cover

HarborNotes Plus looks back at an amazing year

The 2012-2013 academic year was full of exciting milestones for USF St. Petersburg. Take a look back with us in our special 16-page electronic newsletter full of photos and highlights, called HarborNotes Plus.

Page through it now or print this version.

HarborNotes Weekly, University Advancement’s electronic newsletter, returns this fall with the latest news and events about USF St. Petersburg. If you are not subscribed, sign up now so you don’t miss an issue.

You’ll find it in your inbox each Friday during the fall and spring semesters. Look for the subject line, “Five Things to Know About USF St. Petersburg.”

Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D.

Vivian Fueyo named interim chief academic officer

USF St. Petersburg Interim Regional Chancellor Bill Hogarth has named Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D., USFSP Professor of Childhood Education, as interim regional vice chancellor for academic affairs. The appointment is effective July 1.

Fueyo, founding dean of the USFSP College of Education, will fill the post for a year while incoming Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska initiates a national search.

Fueyo follows Norine Noonan, Ph.D., who served as chief academic officer since 2008. “USF St. Petersburg is a much better place because of Dr. Noonan’s leadership,’’ Hogarth said. “Her significant contributions include reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the creation of six new undergraduate and three new graduate programs and a 650 percent increase in external funding for faculty research.”

Hogarth said Fueyo is highly regarded for her sterling academic credentials and administrative experience. “Dr. Fueyo is held in high esteem by her colleagues at USF St. Petersburg and the USF System,” he said. “I am confident she will do an outstanding job.”

Fueyo thanked Hogarth for the opportunity.

“I am honored to lead such a stellar faculty and staff during this interim period and look forward to working closely with Regional Chancellor Wisniewska and all the USFSP community,” Fueyo said.