Breaking News
More () »

These St. Pete teachers felt silenced, so they started a podcast

The podcast, PCTA FYRE, explores the challenges educators in Florida are facing, including new laws and proposed legislation in Tallahassee.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pushing back with a podcast. 

Frustrated over new laws and proposed legislation in Tallahassee, two St. Petersburg High School teachers are voicing their concerns on a new Spotify podcast called PCTA FYRE. It stands for "Pinellas Classrooms Teachers Association" and "Florida's Young Remarkable Educators." 

The podcast launched in January at the suggestion of co-creator Brennan Pickett's wife.

"I was just kind of venting about what's going on," Pickett said. "She suggested that we started a podcast because we listen to a lot of podcasts. She said that because Phil and I already have a way of talking to each other, we can kind of bring people in, in a humorous but informative way. So that's what we try to accomplish with the podcast and it's just trying to get more community organization. That's really the bigger purpose of it." 

Pickett stays glued to all of the changes presented in Tallahassee, saying several of the new bills targeting educators have him concerned. Specifically, he mentioned Senate Bill 256, "Employee Organizations Representing Public Employees," which targets unions. 

"What's going on in Tallahassee is driving me insane. I have lost sleep over this," Pickett said.

PCTA FYRE co-creator Philip Belcastro said he is not concerned about repercussions he could face for speaking out on the podcast.

"For me, it's that mentality of what do I have left to lose?" Belcastro said.

Belcastro said his goal is to share firsthand insight into educating in Florida, working for his "bosses," or students. 

"The people who are in Tallahassee who don't see the boss every day, they're making decisions on such a micro-level that it's important for me to make sure everybody knows what the effects of those decisions are," Belcastro explained.

A frequent guest on the podcast is St. Petersburg High School AP chemistry teacher Dr. Anna Margiotta, who is transgender and uses they/them pronouns.

They hope exposure through the podcast will help alleviate fears. 

"I know about my own credentials and I know I'm a good teacher and I know that my students love me," Margiotte said. "I feel like if I could have a conversation with someone who is afraid of me for whatever reason... they would see that I would never do anything to hurt them. It just seems like something I could get across to someone." 

Margiotta shared insight into how certain legislation, like the expanded Parental Rights in Education bill, which would prohibit staff from using preferred pronouns, could impact schools. 

"I feel like if my coworkers and colleagues chose to respect me and chose to respect my pronouns, they would get fired for that. That's what scares me the most," Margiotta said.

You can find PCTA FYRE on Spotify, or by clicking here.  

Before You Leave, Check This Out