The C-SPAN bus visits MYcroSchool

BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSURG — The C-SPAN bus, complete with its state-of-the-art features, rolled into St. Pete Dec. 3 for a stop at MYcroSchool Pinellas, 840 3rd Ave. S.

Social studies teacher Glenn Walker, who was chosen as a C-SPAN fellow over the summer, was instrumental in having the bus come to MYcroSchool Pinellas. He wanted his students to get an opportunity to learn about the background of C-SPAN and realize that it is more than just a cable network providing gavel-to-gavel coverage.

“They also offer multi-platform web access, a video library,” he said, adding that students can view any message that President Obama has given, whether it’s a press conference or from his time as a candidate.

Students had the opportunity to interact with the high-tech features of the bus, which is even equipped with a television studio.

“They also have access to a video editor,” Walker pointed out, “where they create their own videos, so this ties into 21st century audio/visual learning and gives them an introduction to that.”

Terence Bilal, the motor coach operator, affirmed that though the bus is based in the nation’s capital, it is only there about twice a year.

“We’re always on the road,” he said, “we go to cable conventions, colleges, high schools, middle schools, rotary clubs. We travel all around the country. I’m on the road 11 months out of the year!”

Bilal explained that they have two marketing representatives that travel in another car, and they show students all the attributes of the electronically outfitted bus, which contains a small studio for interviews. He estimated the cost of the vehicle at over $1,250,000.

“We’re in community outreach and work in conjunction with cable,” he said, “so if you have cable, seven cents out of your bill will actually goes to funding C-SPAN. That’s where we get our funding. We’re a nonprofit organization.”

After the two-hour stop at MYcroSchool Pinellas, the bus visited the St. Pete campus of the University of South Florida, before rolling on to Sarasota, Orlando and would eventually make its way back up north to Washington D.C., New York and Connecticut, Bilal said.

Though many of Walker’s students that got the chance to interact with the bus were either current or former social studies students of his, it was available for any student at the school to view.

MYcroSchool Pinellas, a tuition-free nonprofit public charter school, serves students ages 16-22 who have faced some kind of barriers in traditional education, said school administrator Martina Green.

“They usually have either dropped out or are on the verge of dropping out but want to continue toward their high school diploma,” she said, “so they can graduate from here. We’re a self-paced program and offer a flexible schedule, which works for kids who work or have children, or take care of siblings, things like that.”

Green said that since it is self-paced, it’s all based on the student’s ability and how fast or how slow they need to go.

“There’s no real stigma for a student to take a little longer,” she said, “because everybody’s working on something different in the classroom. We have certified teachers working in every classroom for every content area, but our curriculum is computer based so they can work at home if they want to get ahead or need to do extra work. But they are expected to attend the school, same as a regular school.”

Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, MYcroSchool Pinellas opened in August 2012.

To reach Frank Drouzas, email fdrouzas@theweeklychallenger.com

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