Category Archives: Education & Talent Development

POlk Underwater Robots

Polk Students Build Underwater Robots, Competition Coming in February

POlk Underwater RobotsPolk County students will get some hands-on experience this year constructing 10 underwater robotic vehicles.

A combination of high school and elementary students will build these educational contraptions while studying robotics, engineering, science, and mathematics.

Students from Kathleen High School will mentor fifth- and six-graders attending the accelerated learning program at Valleyview Elementary. Throughout the project, students will learn engineering concepts, problem-solving techniques, teamwork, and technical skills.

A robotics team at the University of Florida has also been invited to share advice and assistance.

The students’ underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) will dive into action and showcase what they can do during a competition being planned at a local swimming pool in February.

George Bartuska, who teaches science at Kathleen, and Lori Bradner, a teacher at Valleyview, will be working together to make the underwater robotic vehicle project a success.

The project was made possible with a $1,925 grant from SeaPerch, an educational program sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. The funding will purchase the materials needed to build these robots.

Bartuska applied for the grant, which he learned about while attending an oceanography workshop held recently at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.


WE3 Expo Planned for November – Learn How You Can be Involved in Polk’s Academies


Now in it’s 6th year, the WE3 Expo is a showcase of elementary, middle, high and adult schools with innovative programs designed to prepare students for the future. The Expo brings schools, higher education and the business community together to continue to encourage the development of a strong talent pool, driving economic development.

During the two-day event, more than 400 booths will display student achievements in career academies, technical education, fine arts, early childhood and more. Last year, more than 10,000 students, parents and business leaders came to the Expo to learn more about the programs that are putting Polk Schools on the map!

Learn more about how to get your company involved in making the WE3 Expo a success by visiting their website at


United Way Seeks 200 Volunteer Readers to Help Children Achieve Greater Academic Success

The United Way of Central Florida Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) is currently recruiting 200 volunteers to read and work with kindergarten students during the 2014-2015 school year.  Led by Carol and Barney Barnett, a partnership with The Children’s Movement of Florida and Polk County Schools, ReadingPals is part of a statewide initiative to promote early literacy.  The program encourages volunteerism to support the work of United Way.  By reading to students and mentoring to make a difference in the life of child, ReadingPals is a strategy to increase the number of students reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade.

Volunteers will commit to reading to students just one hour a week from September-May, at 12 partner elementary schools in Polk County.  Volunteers will read a variety of classics and other books designed to build a student’s vocabulary, increase their confidence, and the reading level needed for academic success.  Since 2012, United Way ReadingPals has engaged 309 volunteers who have worked with 978 kindergarten students in Polk and Highlands.  With the ReadingPals project, a total of 4,000 hours have been invested to improve academic achievement –and a United Way partnership with local schools makes it possible to measure results.  “We’re making progress.  We’re proud to say ReadingPals students were promoted at a rate 6% higher than students with no reading pals,” says Penny Borgia, COO of United Way of Central Florida.

Research proves that kids with vocabulary skills needed by kindergarten have a better chance to succeed in school and life. “With more volunteers we can help more students stay on track for success,” says Hope Bogel, UWCF WLC Program Manager, ReadingPals, “in August, we need 200 volunteers for the upcoming school year to support our kids –and the goal of 2,000 ReadingPals statewide.”

To become a ReadingPals volunteer, contact Hope Bogel at United Way of Central Florida at 863.648.1500 ext 278 or

CreerSource Polk P5X

CareerSource Polk Seeks HR Experts for P5X Workforce Development Challenge

CreerSource Polk P5XCareerSource Polk is seeking HR experts to join forces for its new initiative: P5X.

The goal of P5X is to have Polk’s HR and workforce experts collaborate to consult with jobseekers about what the business community is looking for in its’ workforce.

Local HR professionals will remove their company hats and put on the consultant hat to assist our jobseekers with better preparing to present themselves as the ideal, qualified talent for the many jobs available in Polk and beyond.  From developing and critiquing resumes, conducting mock interviews, explaining how to articulate your qualifications and skills to teaching how to negotiate salaries appropriate for the market and much more, jobseekers will walk away fully prepared to land a job.

CareerSource Polk is offering a GURANTEE that one will obtain a job offer within six months if he/she follows the Personalized Employment Plan as suggested by the experts.  With more than 200 P5X staff on site, CSP expects to make this event an effective venue for our jobseekers to excel.

 If you are an EXPERT and you would like to be a part of this initiative, there is still room for you. See brief JOB DESCRIPTIONS below:

Expert Résumé Developers & Reviewers

  • MUST be able to effectively and expeditiously develop and critique resumes, identifying errors, inconsistencies, and gaps.

Expert Interviewers

  • MUST be able to conduct off-the-cuff practice interviews and provide critical feedback to improve the jobseekers interview effectiveness.
  • You will be expected to expediently craft customized interview questions that are relevant to the types of jobs for which the jobseeker should be applying.
  • Individual and Panel Interviewing opportunities will be available onsite

Job Application Experts

  • MUST be able to convey to inquiring jobseekers the proper way to complete and submit paper and online applications as well as how to appropriately respond to awkward questions on an application.
  • Will need to share some of the common pitfalls made when completing applications.

 Expert Salary Negotiators & LMI Specialists

  • MUST be able to discuss with jobseekers when is the appropriate time to discuss salary and show one how to research realistic salaries for the job, industry and market in which they are applying. 
  • Must be able to convey to the jobseeker when salaries are or are not negotiable.
  • Will be expected to show jobseekers how to access labor market information online.

Expert Image Consultants

  • MUST be able to show jobseekers the impact of their professional image when going for an interview or showing up for work.
  • Will address how social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. can make or break their professional image.

Communication Experts

  • MUST be able to assist jobseekers with articulating their knowledge, skills and experience to the employer, in a manner that is relevant to the employer’ needs.
  • Special emphasis will be placed on Veterans, Long-term unemployed, and those will additional challenges to obtaining employment.

 Nearly Every Jobseeker should leave P5X with:

  • A Professional Portfolio
  • A Quality Resume (on thumb drive, hard copy and downloaded in EFM)
  • A Full Registration in Employ Florida (job search site)
  • An Effective Interview Experience
  • A Personalized Employment Plan
  • An Opportunity to schedule a practice interview prior to the real deal
  • A 6-Month Job Offer Guarantee
  • Referrals to relevant open positions
  • And Much More

To offer your ecpert help, contact Marybeth at (863) 508-1600 Ext. 1116

Graduation Building Blocks

Polk State College and Saint Leo University Sign Articulation Agreement, Expanding Options for Polk Students

Graduation Building BlocksPolk State College ( and Saint Leo University ( have signed an articulation agreement that will smooth the path to advanced education for Polk graduates interested in pursuing graduate work in criminal justice or business administration at Saint Leo. The agreement also helps associate degree holders from Polk who wish to enroll at Saint Leo for the upper-level undergraduate courses leading to a bachelor’s degree in psychology or accounting.

Articulation agreements between colleges and universities clearly define what courses from one institution will be accepted by the second institution for transfer credit at the undergraduate level, or as adequate preparation for study at the graduate level. This practical knowledge helps students, working with their academic advisors, plan their semesters and select their courses knowledgably. Some undergraduate courses from Saint Leo University may still be required for admission to graduate programs.

The traditional application fees to Saint Leo will be waived for Polk students who enroll under terms of the agreement. The application fee is $40 at the undergraduate level and $80 at the graduate level.

“Saint Leo has always brought new educational options to those who might not have the opportunity to attend a regionally accredited university, and in the 21st century, we do that by providing more degree options at our education centers that are convenient to students’ homes and workplaces, and by making more online study options available,” said Dr. Beth Carter, associate vice president for continuing education. “We are excited at the prospects of having more Polk graduates study at Saint Leo.”

“This is great news for our students,” said Polk State President Eileen Holden about the agreement with Saint Leo.

“Polk State is committed to helping our students succeed—whether that’s in our classrooms, or after they’ve taken their credits and transferred to another institution. This agreement with Saint Leo opens up another door for our students. It gives them another opportunity for applying their Polk State credits to their ultimate professional and educational goals. It gives them another chance to succeed, even after they’ve left Polk, and that’s what Polk State is all about,” President Holden concluded.

Administrators at Polk and Saint Leo focused on degree programs at Saint Leo that are likely to be the ones of greatest interest to Polk State students.

  • The Saint Leo Master of Science in criminal justice is offered online and at the Saint Leo University Lakeland Education Center at 1044 West Griffin Road (at SYKES Enterprises Inc.). The degree requires 36 hours of graduate study. In Lakeland, it is available with a specialization in legal studies. Students who enroll online have additional specialization options available: corrections, critical incident management, and forensic science. Saint Leo agreed to accept Polk grads with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4-point scale) in the last 60 credits of their undergraduate work.
  • The Master of Business Administration at Saint Leo is available with many specialization options. Admission to MBA programs require a minimum of two years of professional work experience, except in the case of the One-Year International and Experiential MBA, which is designed specifically for recent undergraduates who want to continue their studies, and want to gain travel-study experience and internship experience while in school. Extensive information about the MBA and options for study, including online study or education center study, is available on the university website.
  • Bachelor of Arts degree programs in psychology and in accounting are available at the Lakeland Education Center and online. To graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Saint Leo University, students must meet the requirements of the core liberal arts program, or complete courses that are accepted substitutes.

Prospective students will be able to apply to Saint Leo immediately, and could start taking courses as soon as the fall. In addition, students may have the option of selecting accelerated eight-week course terms, rather than a 15-week semester.

Student enrollment counselors and education center staff can be reached through the Saint Leo website.