St. Petersburg: A City for Art Lovers

Made up of five different arts districts, downtown St. Petersburg is a mecca of restaurants, boutiques, art, and music for all visitors to enjoy.  After your conference sessions are over for the day, enjoy the nightlife and the sights that are found throughout the downtown districts.

Central Arts District st. pete district - central arts

Encompassing the 300-700 blocks of Central Avenue, you can easily enjoy a full day getting to know the city’s art hub. Lovers of art will enjoy the murals and street art seen all over the district and foodies will find restaurants to rave about. Live music can be heard at the many restaurants that line the streets like Acropolis Green Taverna, La V, and Cycle Brewing. Some of the must-sees include the Morean Arts Center, Morean Glass Studio & Hot Shop (which offers glassblowing demonstrations four times daily for a fee of $8.95), and the Florida CraftArt Gallery. For those of you who want a more hands-on approach, check out the Morean Glass Studio’s Glass Experiences for the chance to create your own piece of glass art.  Don’t forget to take the trolley for a fun experience or drive.

Grand Central District st. pete district - grand central

Formed in 2001, Grand Central District is recognized as a Florida Main Street Community. Their goal is to revitalize the community through an eclectic mix of historic preservation and economic development. Purchase some books at Haslam’s Book Store, the largest new & used book store in Florida. Don’t worry about being hungry after your conference sessions are over: with multiple cuisine options in Grand Central District like Casita Taqueria, Punky’s Bar&Grill, Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria, or (swah-rey), you’ll be sure to find something that pleases your taste buds.

The Edge District st. pete district - the edge

As another Florida Main Street Community, The Edge District claims its sense of vibrancy from its pubs, clubs, galleries, and restaurants. Stop by Green Bench Brewing Company and enjoy the tasting room, where you can try over 15 different varieties as you take in the uniqueness of the décor. Continue out into their Beer Garden where the landscaped seating and covered patio provide a great place to enjoy the lawn games, food trucks, and live music on the weekends. Explore The Edge District and take painting classes, visit boutiques, and discover hand-crafted beauty products and jewelry.

Warehouse Arts District st. pete district - warehouse

The Warehouse Arts District started as an industrial zone, and because of its large spaces, artists love using this area to complete larger-scale projects. Come visit the Duncan McClellan Gallery or the Train Station Center for Clay. If you’re looking for a great way to tour the district after your conference sessions, take advantage of the WADA (Warehouse Arts District Associations) Walks. With two Walks to choose from, these self-guided tours take you through a few of the Districts must-see places.

  • WADA Walk One takes you to the Duncan McClellan Gallery and St. Pete Hot Glass Workshop, Zen Glass Studio and Gallery, Charlie Parker Pottery, The Venture Compound, and Funktionhouse, Urban Lumber & Furnishings.
  • WADA Walk Two takes you along 22nd Street South to visit Carrie Jadus Fine and Portraiture, MGA Sculpture Studio, Dazzio Art Experience, Morean Center for Clay, The Clay Center of St. Petersburg, and From Mayan Hands/New World Imports.

Peruse the Where to Visit page for the list of WADA Walk addresses along with other galleries and studios not included in either Walk list.

Waterfront Arts District st. pete district - waterfront arts

Don’t miss out on exploring the Waterfront Arts District! This district boast numerous museums such as the Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Chihuly Collection, and more. The Hilton Hotel where the conference is being held is also located in this district, so attendees won’t have far to travel to visit the sights that the Waterfront Arts District has to offer. Spend your free time enjoying the nightlife, visiting museums, or simply taking a walk or watching a movie.

No matter which districts you are able to visit, downtown St. Petersburg has beauty to offer at every turn.

Sunken Gardens

Located about 10 minutes from the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront hotel where the 32nd  Annual Florida Literacy Coalition conference is being held, Sunken Gardens is a great and easy stop to unwind for a couple of hours.

The Gardens

Pay a visit to St. Petersburg’s historic Sunken Gardens. Over 100 years old, Sunken Gardens is St. Petersburg’s oldest living museum. These lush gardens cover four acres and are a treasured piece of the city.

sunken gardens Prepare to enter a place of tranquility once you step foot in this tropical paradise. Enjoy strolling among 50,000 plants (over 500 species) and relax with the sight and sounds of birds as you explore the winding paths. With a rock garden, waterfalls, and a wishing well, Sunken Gardens is a pleasurable activity for the off-hours during your conference stay.


Sunken Gardens was originally a lake that George Turner purchased, drained, and turned into a tropical garden so captivating that by the 1920’s, he was able to turn it into a business. Turner’s family continued the tradition for three generations until the city of St. Petersburg came together to purchase the garden as a way of continuing and honoring George Turner’s original vision.

Today, the Gardens are a cultural and educational center in St. Petersburg, offering workshops and weekly events for people of all ages to enjoy. Visit the Sunken Gardens’s website  for detailed information about events.


Hourssunken gardens map

Monday – Saturday 10 am – 4:30 pm
Sunday noon – 4:30 pm

Last admission is sold at 4pm daily.


  • $10 Adults
  • $8 Seniors (62+)
  • $4 Children (2-11)


Thrilled for the Thirtieth!

The Florida Literacy Conference is celebrating THIRTY years this May. Can you believe it? The Conference pre-dates the Coalition, which only emphasizes the importance of providing quality professional development for the leaders in literacy and those working in the trenches of adult education. FLC is celebrating this momentous occasion at the Hilton Daytona Beach, May 7-9, 2014. A group of FLC staff members and ten members of the Conference Planning Committee met at the hotel last week to scope the scene and prepare for the event. I’ve added some pictures below so you can begin to imagine how this event will take place.

Inspired to make a difference? Submit a proposal to present at this year’s Conference.

Can’t wait to spend time with your favorite teachers and program administrators? Registration is now open! 

Grand Ballroom, where you'll be able to listen to FLC's great keynotes.

Grand Ballroom, where you’ll be able to listen to FLC’s great keynotes.

Exhibit and Registration Area

Exhibit and Registration Area

Location of the Opening Reception. Can't you hear the live band already?

Location of the Opening Reception. Can’t you hear the live band already?

Backyard of the Hotel for a late-night stroll by the water

Backyard of the Hotel for a late-night stroll by the water

Potential location for Adult Learner Day lunch or a surprising event.

Potential location for Adult Learner Day lunch or a surprising event.

Highlights from the 2013 Florida Literacy Conference

Another great year for the Florida Literacy Conference! We had a fabulous turnout and several motivating speeches and sessions. The Conference started with keynote, Nelson Lauver. Nelson is the host of the American Storyteller Radio Journal and former Adult Learner. He told his story of how he learned that he had a learning disability and his ability to overcome it and work with it. We’re hoping to get a copy of the speech to post on our website in the future.

We had two and a half days filled with great sessions, but the most popular ones were the Adult Learner Experience and the Department of Education updates. In the Adult Learner Experience, members of the Adult Learner Committee spoke about their background and why they stayed in their literacy programs. Nelson was on the panel and a few students who were published in the Adult Learner Essay Book were able to read and share their story. Needless to say, everyone was moved.

On Thursday, FLC hosted it’s annual meeting. Executive Director, Greg Smith, provided an overview of the past year at our organization. He then opened the floor to adult learners who were there to read their essays. If you missed the meeting, you might be brought to tears from watching the video.

Jim Duffy was the closing keynote during the luncheon on Friday. Jim worked in broadcasting for 48 years and initiated a public service campaign on literacy. He incorporated the issue in programs and had television specials focused specifically on adults who could not read. Thousands of people joined literacy programs in their area as part of this campaign. The luncheon closed with the two drawings for a roundtrip ticket on Southwest Airlines. This year’s winners were Claire Valier and Paul Schaub!

What was your favorite part of Conference? Share it with us! Send your story to .

Social Media at Conference

The Opening General Session is only ONE WEEK away! Can you smell the Atlantic Ocean yet?

One of our final posts before workshops start is to go over social media. We will be blogging during conference and giving recaps of great sessions and events. If you were at a session and had an amazing experience, let us know! We can set it up so you can blog during your breaks at one of the computer stations donated by Florida TechNet. You also can reflect on the experience as a whole and submit something after you’re back home. Either way, we’d love to hear about your experiences.

We’ll also have a text/twitter updates going on. If you text “Follow FlaLitCon2013″ to 40404, you can get text message updates on room changes, silent auction updates, and session reminders. If you plan on checking twitter frequently, follow us at @FlaLitCon2013.

For those who love tweeting great ideas! Be sure to include #flalitcon so those not at the conference can follow the conversation.

Don’t forget to check out our Conference Pinterest to stay updated on all the hotspots and happenings!

Can’t wait to see you there!

Call for Guest Bloggers

Attention conference attendees:

Don’t just come to the 2013 Florida Literacy Conference; share your thoughts, impressions, and take-aways with your and FLC’s community! Whether you’re coming to the 2013 Florida Literacy Conference to attend sessions, exhibit products and services, or present your own, FLC is inviting guest bloggers to help contribute content before, during, and/or after the event.

You might want to consider becoming a guest blogger if:

  • you enjoy writing/ are a writer
  • you have previous experience blogging OR have always wanted to try it
  • you like to share your thoughts with others whom share your passion for literacy
  • you need to put aside that half-finished novel you’ve been working on

You might not want to consider becoming a guest blogger if:

  • you’re not attending the conference
  • you have cyberphobia, or the fear of computers
  • you didn’t read this blog entry

By now you’re probably wondering how to go about fulfilling this desire to blog, so here’s how to get started: Simply write an email expressing your interest to blog during the Florida Literacy Conference to John Sanchez,, by Monday, April 29th. After receiving your email, you will be asked several questions about your previous experience, when you’d prefer to blog, and how often you’d prefer to contribute, etc.

We welcome any and all attendees to take advantage of this opportunity, especially because the more you collect your thoughts during the conference, the more likely you’ll be able to recollect what you learned after you’ve returned home. When you think about it that way, blogging is not only a great way to share what you’ve learned; it’s also the teach-back method at work!

Financial Literacy Track Preview: Denise Smalls- Income or Wealth?

How many of you are working for income or wealth?  What is the difference?  Income is today and wealth is tomorrow.  One of the ways to accumulate wealth is to start saving for a retirement fund.  Are you currently saving for retirement?  If so, are you saving enough to retire comfortably?

According to the Retirement Confidence Survey, only 66% of workers have saved money for retirement.  These numbers go down significantly for workers who make less than $35,000/year (24%).  A number of people live for today and handle tomorrow when it gets here.  However, these are the same individuals who do not have enough money to pay for both medical and housing expenses.  Are you depending on Social Security to help you with tomorrow?  What happens if social security changes the way it provides funds in the future?  Could this change reduce the amount of money you will need to live on tomorrow?  Let’s say that Social Security does not change and you will receive the same amount that a retiree is getting today, is that enough to live on?  Why don’t you go ask a couple of our seniors who are currently living on Social Security alone and find out how comfortable they are living?

Saving for retirement is a good first step but you have to do more.  You have to determine how much money you will need to save before you can retire. More than 50% of workers, according to the Retirement Confidence Survey, do not know how much money they will need to have to retire.  It is equally important to know if you are on the right track with your retirement goals.  How will you pay for medical expenses?  How will you pay for housing and food expenses?  Do you want to travel or visit your potential grandchildren?  Do you want to spend time playing golf, tennis or bingo?  Do you want to volunteer or work part time?  There are so many decisions that have to be made and while you can’t foresee the future you can definitely plan for it.

There are numerous calculators on the Internet that can help you make a determination on how much money is needed for retirement.  One such calculator is from CNN Money and AARP also has a good retirement calculator

For more information on retirement and other money management questions, feel free to come to the Money $ense classes where we speak about the above issues as well as how to build and/or fix credit, how to get a free credit report, how to create a spending plan and what are the advantages of using a financial institution.  The class schedule is located at  Go to the bottom of the page for financial programs and select Money $ense class schedule.

Are you working for income or wealth?  Why don’t you use the income you are making to achieve the wealth you want?  How do you accomplish this goal, come to the Money $ense class to find out.

Employee Benefit Research Institute. (2013). Preparing for Retirement in America.  2013 RCS Fact Sheet #3.  Retrieved from

Do you have your ticket to Florida Literacy Awards Banquet yet?

2012 awards winners compressed

The Florida Literacy Awards Banquet is on Thursday, May 9 from 6:30-8:30. The banquet is a time to relax with peers as we highlight the many accomplishments in literacy over the past year. Awards will are given to adult learners, literacy practitioners, literacy programs, volunteers, and business partners. The awards that will be given include: the Mary J. Brogan Leadership Award, Flight for Freedom Award, Outstanding Literacy Volunteer Award, Excellence in Education Award, and Outstanding Business Partner Award. Author Angela Lane will be the keynote speaker for this inspiring night.

It’s not too late to reserve your spot!

For more information or to register for the event, please contact Amanda Terrell (

Literacy Awards Banquet Keynote: Angela Lane

angelalaneMiami native, Angela Lane, grew up in Miami-Dade County, Florida, “in a world of endless possibilities limited only by self.”  The daughter of a Pentecostal minister, Ms. Lane traces some of her writer’s inspiration back to the sights and sounds in her father’s small church.  She explains, “I’m convinced that we are a product of our environment; it’s just that mine incorporated fantasy and faith.”

Ms. Lane’s debut picture book, Mommy, There’s A Giraffe in My Room!, was featured at the 2007 Miami Book Fair International and honored with a spot on the Florida Department of Education summer reading list, Just Read Florida! 2009.

Ms. Lane also serves as a legislative assistant to Florida State Representative Kionne McGhee, she writes and acts in contemporary stage plays, and she shares her love of books with young students on school visits.

The mother of three children, Ms. Lane lives in Miami with her husband, Robert.

For more information on the Florida Literacy Conference and the Awards Banquet, please visit our website.


Welcome to the South Seas Island Resort!

SSIR Logo_1On behalf of the entire staff of South Seas Island Resort, I want to welcome those of you that will be joining us for the 29th Annual Florida Literacy Conference being held at South Seas on beautiful Captiva Island, Florida, May 7, 2013 to May 10, 2013.

What can you expect from your trip to South Seas?  Relaxation and rejuvenation. 

Aerial Shot LOW RESSouth Seas is a sprawling tropical oasis, 330 acres and 2.5 miles long, framed by the tranquil blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Pine Island Sound.  It’s best to think of South Seas as its own little village, consisting of two major areas: South Village and North Pointe.

South Village is where you’ll find your meeting rooms for the event, main reception center for check-in, your accommodations (Beach, Tennis and Bayside Villas), Chadwick’s Square for shopping and spa services (Starbucks in the morning, anyone?), tennis, and one of our staffed beach areas, South Beach.  Each of the villa areas has its own pool and SouthBeach has chairs, towels and umbrellas available during the day.  All of these areas are within easy walking distance to each other.

About 1 mile away is North Pointe, where you’ll find the Resort Pool Complex (featuring H2Whoa! waterslides), the Yacht Harbour, golf course, Harbourside Bar & Grill (serving Fish Market Cuisine nightly), Scoops & Slices (serving pizza, ice cream and a wall of candy), and my favorite spot, Sunset Beach.  Sunset Beach is our main beach area where we have Sunset Beach Bar, Sunny Island Watersports, a volleyball net, chairs, towels and umbrellas.  We have live music from 5pm – 8pm nightly and just as the sun sets each night, we have a special ceremony on the beach.

T DockMoving between SouthVillage and North Pointe is easy.  We have a trolley service that runs continuously for all guests from 7am – 11pm, and bikes and golf carts are available for rent.  There will be a dedicated trolley for the FL Literacy Coalition during peak event times as well.  One of the best deals on the property is at check in when you’ll be asked if you’d like to rent a bike during your stay.  It’s only $5 per bike, per day, and you rent it for the duration of your stay, versus $15 per bike, per day if you elect to rent a la carte.  It’s a great way to travel throughout Captiva and South Seas at your own pace.

If you would like to learn more about South Seas, I encourage you to visit,, or follow us on twitter and instagram @SSIslandResort.  We look forward to seeing you in May.


Daniel Smock
Communication Manager, South Seas Island Resort