University of South Florida

College of Education

Tampa | St. Petersburg | Sarasota-Manatee


gift basket

USF College of Education Alumni Society celebrates recent graduates and new teachers with Welcome to Teaching gift baskets

The start of a career in education is full of excitement, and recent graduates of the USF College of Education felt the love from their alma mater on their special day. Dave Scanga, chair of the Alumni Society for the USF College of Education and Dean R. Anthony Rolle distributed Welcome to Teaching baskets full of classroom essentials, College of Education memorabilia and treats, such as chocolate and coffee, to alumni serving as first-time teachers across Tampa Bay.

New Wiregrass Ranch High School teacher

Gift Basket and Group Photo

Jamie Miller, December ’22 graduate of the USF College of Education, met Dean Rolle in the front office of Wiregrass Ranch High School, where he presented Miller with a Welcome to Teaching gift basket. She and the dean immediately hit it off, talking about their mutual interest in cheerleading. 

“I am the cheerleading coach here at Wiregrass Ranch, but I am also the club sponsor for the Wiregrass Ranch High School spirit club, Bulls Nation,” Miller told the dean. Rolle shared how he, too, used to cheer. Both smiled and laughed about their enthusiasm for the sport. 

Miller also expressed her pride as a USF graduate. “The University of South Florida has an amazing education program. I am proud to call myself a Bull always and forever!”

She added, “I am completely excited about beginning a career in teaching. It has been my lifelong passion.” Miller was inspired by her mother, an educator for 35 years. “My mom went back to USF after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education to get a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. She has always been my role model because she loved teaching so much.”

Miller is starting her career as an 11th and 12th grade teacher of Creative Writing, English 4 and English General Paper (EGP) at Wiregrass Ranch High School. Following her mother’s example, she plans to return to the USF College of Education in a few years to earn a master’s in Educational Leadership.

New Wiregrass Elementary School third grade teacher

Dean surprising teacher

It was a surprise for Alyssa Santana, December ’22 graduate of the USF College of Education when Dean Rolle showed up at her Professional Learning Community (PLC) meeting at Wiregrass Elementary to present her with a Welcome to Teaching gift basket. 

Santana expressed her appreciation not only for the gift but also for her alma mater, sharing, “After graduating from the USF College of Education, I felt confident I knew how to support students in the classroom and become the effective educator I have always wanted to be. I was in the Elementary Education program at USF, and it was rigorous, but I learned so much.”

Santana has strong ties to the Wesley Chapel community, since she attended the elementary, middle and high school right next door to Wiregrass Elementary, her new professional home. As it happens, Santana now works alongside her former third grade teacher, Tiffany Gocsik, who is now the assistant principal at Wiregrass Elementary.

Santana noted that teaching runs in her family. Her older sister received her bachelor’s in English Education and a master’s in Educational Leadership from the USF College of Education. Inspired by her sister’s success, Santana is starting her own career in education as a third grade teacher at Wiregrass Elementary.

Gift basket assembly by USF College of Education Alumni Society

Assembly of gift baskets

As part of the 2023 USF Stampede of Service, alumni organizations across the USF campus brainstormed and organized service projects in January to benefit the community. The USF College of Education Alumni Society gathered and became excited about delivering a Welcome to Teaching basket to recent graduates starting their careers in Tampa Bay schools. 

“Teachers need to be celebrated and feel that the community cares about them. We need to show them that we value their commitment to teaching the next generation. Gift baskets were a fun way to celebrate teachers who are off to a great start,“ said David Scanga.

The college Alumni Society requested donations for the baskets. The alumni community generously responded with an assortment of school supplies, gift cards and other goodies to make a new teacher smile.

“Teachers starting in the middle of the academic year do not get the chance to participate in activities organized for teachers at the beginning of the school year. They get overlooked a bit. I thought these gift baskets were a great way to celebrate the teachers who are starting in January. I wanted to get involved and contribute,” said Freda Abercrombie-Rouse ’86 and ’88.

The USF College of Education Alumni Society is busy throughout the year offering opportunities for graduates to reconnect with their fellow alums, to participate in service projects and fun events. Join Today. Membership is free!

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About the USF College of Education:

As the home for more than 2,200 students and 130 faculty members across three campuses, the University of South Florida College of Education offers state-of-the-art teacher training and collegial graduate studies designed to empower educational leaders. Our college is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and our educator preparation programs are fully approved by the Florida Department of Education.