Webisodes Spotlight USF’s Highlights

Unstoppable Campaign’s latest feature is on an ambitious tutoring program for Hillsborough County.



By Barbara Melendez

USF.edu News Writer


TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 3, 2010) – Student achievements. Research innovations. Global connections.


What’s next for the University of South Florida’s Telly Award-winning video production webisodes for the Unstoppable Campaign?


The toughest assignment, says the team responsible for creating the popular videos, is choosing a topic to tell the USF story. The task falls to professionals within the USF Foundation and USF’s Media Innovation Team


The team starts with those areas which best tell the remarkable stories of the people and programs of the USF System. Fortunately, there is no shortage of great stories, and there are a great many candidates for the webisode series.


“We’re always looking to find the most compelling stories and the problem is which to do first,” said Senior Associate Vice President for Advancement and Campaign Director Rod Grabowski. “We always have in mind the need to focus in on the specifics that make USF unique, the things we’re known for and we look for those which best define the campaign – that convey the ‘unstoppability’ of USF.”


Then the compelling stories have to be told quickly – in three minutes or less. 


“You will see we manage to get a lot of information and people into each one,” said Christine Brown, producer with the Media Innovation Team. “We use a rapid-fire editing style such that you may see as many as nine or ten people in as many or more locations.”


The story of the USF College of Education’s Tutor-a-Bull Program is now being featured. 


Many of the College’s Suncoast Area Teacher Training (SCATT) Honor’s Program students participate in the newly titled, “Tutor-a-Bull” program, a school-based collaborative project with approximately 100 tutors in 15 middle schools and three high schools in the Hillsborough County Public School System. The program began and continues at the Joshua House, a safe haven for abused, neglected and abandoned children in the Tampa Bay community. SCATT provides workshops and seminars for teachers about to enter the profession.


“The need for well-trained and experienced teachers cannot be overstated,” said Colleen Kennedy, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Education. Tutor-a-Bull is mutually beneficial to our USF students as learners about teaching and instruction, as well as the middle and high school students, who are making impressive learning gains. Tutor-a-Bull gives our teacher education candidates valuable hands-on experience and the middle and high school students get the attention and individualized instruction they need to be successful.”


Local business leader and philanthropist, Olin Mott, has been spearheading efforts to raise funds for this tremendously successful program. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has donated a $100,000 “Reach for the Stars” endowment to the USF College of Education that is being used to provide tutoring services from SCATT students. The Sheriff's Office gave the College an additional $25,000 grant to help support the Tutor-a-Bull program. Other sponsors include: Olin Mott Tire Company, The New York Yankees Foundation, Suncoast Kids Foundation, and Brighthouse Networks.


The Tutor-a-Bull webisode is the fourth installment in the Telly-Award-winning series with more scheduled to be released approximately every six weeks. All are available on the Unstoppable website. The webisodes are released in a variety of ways.


“We do an email blast to about 135,000 alumni and friends of the university,” said Jay Wilson, director of communications for the USF Foundation. “With the help of USF’s Department of Communications and Marketing, we post on the USF Facebook Page, YouTube Channel and Twitter Feed as well, and we get the word out to the USF community internally.” 


Wilson is always looking for ways to build on the momentum started with the campaign’s kick-off in October of 2009. 


“Our primary intention is to build awareness of USF and its many accomplishments,” Wilson said. “The webisodes are part of a broad communication plan that includes newsletters, white papers, and other printed and electronic materials. And the bottom line is, we have a lot to be proud of throughout the USF System.


 “We live in a very generous community and the webisodes provide a way to introduce and show in detail how that support is being put to use.”


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.