Beginning with the founding of the College of Education and continuing through the 1970s, many faculty members served the school systems in the fifteen surrounding counties through consultations, workshops, evaluations, and curriculum development projects. Some of these professional services were for payment, but many were provided free of charge by faculty who were dedicated to the mission and success of K-12 education.
By 1975, the amount of professional services being provided to K-12 schools reached a level that required coordination by the College of Education. Dr. Ray Urbanek served as the director of the newly-created Teacher Education Center in the College of Education for four years. He was followed as director by Dr. Rex Toothman in 1979.
The Teacher Education Center formalized the process of providing services by inviting the directors of staff development from each of the fifteen counties to meet with College of Education department chairs to hear the needs of K-12 schools and to identify the areas of expertise of the faculty members. In the early 1980s, the Florida Legislature decided to take $5 for each full time equivalent student in each county and dedicated it to staff development. Each county had to form a Teacher Education Center Council and determine how they wanted to spend their funding, but it must be spent with institutions of higher education, public or private, in or outside of the state.
Dr. Phil Pfost was appointed director of the USF Teacher Education Center in 1980 and provided excellent leadership for the next few years. Dr. Pfost said that the College of Education was fortunate because it already had established a foundation to work with the fifteen school districts in the service area. The College of Education had faculty who served on Teacher Education Councils in each of the fifteen counties. Staff development activities each year were provided by 100 to 120 faculty members from the College of Education and 15 to 20 faculty members from other colleges of the University. While requests primarily came from the fifteen surrounding countries there were also requests from Miami, Key West, and other parts of the state.
The faculty members were elated over the increased opportunity to provide services to K-12 schools and they were happy to be paid for some services that they previously performed for free. As clearly shown in Figure 1: “Where Florida school districts spent their Teacher Education Center dollars 1983-1990,” the College of Education faculty with nearly $500,000 paid by school systems each year provided almost twice the level of services at over 17,000 hours as any of the other seven state public universities. Unfortunately, the Florida Legislature decided to discontinue the highly successful Teacher Education Center Program in 1991. Since then, workshops and consulting services by College of Education faculty to K-12 School Districts have continued under different arrangements.