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Saint Leo University’s Florida Future Educators of America Advisors, Student Officers Help ‘Grow’ New Teachers

More than 600 high school students learned about teaching careers from Saint Leo’s Department of Undergraduate Education

Tags: College of Education and Social Services Elementary Education Featured Online Learning Saint Leo WorldWide Secondary Education Undergraduate Education University Campus Educational Studies Middle Grades Education Bachelor of Arts in Education Education Center
3 February 2023 - By University Communications

While Saint Leo University’s Undergraduate Education Department focuses on preparing university students to become educators, that is just one part of the program. From January 27 through January 29, Saint Leo Florida Future Educators of America (FFEA) advisors and student officers attended the FFEA conference in Orlando, FL.

FFEA increases awareness of career opportunities in education and fosters an interest in teaching among high school students. At a time when there is an extreme teacher shortage in the state, FFEA and Saint Leo are intent on providing educators for the future.

More than 600 of those students from teaching academies at high schools throughout the state attended this conference. Two of Saint Leo’s partner teaching academies — Hernando and Weeki Wachee high schools from Hernando County, FL — participated in the January conference. 


“The conference vibe was one of excitement, hope, and positivity,” said Kate Wittrock, instructor of education. “It's nice to see so many students that want to be teachers and view teaching as their passion!”

At the conference, Dr. Christine Picot, assistant professor of education, and Wittrock provided a make and take workshop session for the high school students on the use of interactive notebooks to teach students about the importance of student engagement.

Interactive notebooks can include spiral notebooks, composition books, three-ring binders, or foldables. Teachers also can leverage the use of technology to create digital notebooks through Power Point Notebooks, Padlet, Google Interactive Notebooks, or Google Jam Board, to name a few.

“Interactive notebooks can be used to increase student engagement and learning in various content areas such as math, science, social studies, ELA [English Language Arts], etc.,” Wittrock said. “We can also use interactive notebooks to differentiate for diverse learners, increase collaborative learning so students can co-create/construct knowledge, and assess learning. Interactive notebooks also assist students with processing and synthesizing of information, study and review for assessments, and personalize the content being presented.”

Helping the high school students learn how to connect with and engage their future classroom students, was just one aspect of the conference.

Wittrock and Dr. Carol McLeish, assistant professor of English, also participated in College Night, sharing information about Saint Leo University, its education degrees, and other degree programs offered.  


Saint Leo’s undergraduate education degrees include:

Bachelor's degree in elementary education (grades kindergarten - 6)

● Bachelor's degree in secondary education (grades six -12) - social science

● Bachelor's degree in educational studies - early childhood development

● Bachelor's degree in secondary education (grades six -12) – English

● Bachelor's degree in middle grades education (grades five - nine) - social science

● Bachelor's degree in middle grades education (grades five - nine) - English

The Saint Leo faculty members also met with the students from partner teaching academies. Hernando High School’s Future Teacher Academy is in its third year. Students in this program visit elementary schools and work with children in all subject areas, including “specials” such as art and music, and guidance.

Through its partnership with Saint Leo, the FTA students may take dual enrollment classes at the university.

To find out more about Saint Leo University’s education degrees, email Dr. Holly Atkins, chair of Undergraduate Education,; Baye Ballew, associate chair,; or