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)


St. Petersburg: Home of the 32nd Annual Florida Literacy Conference

Registration is in full swing for the 32nd Annual Florida Literacy Conference which will be held at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel  from May 4th-6th. Be sure to register now to enjoy our early bird pricing.* With hotel amenities and the many attractions St. Petersburg has to offer, everyone is sure to have an enjoyable experience during their stay.


Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront • 333 1st St S • St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Conveniently located about 25 minutes from the Clearwater International Airport, the Hilton boasts plenty of amenities.  Daily parking will be available for $6. Guests of the conference can enjoy a discounted room rate of $116 available for stays anytime from May 2nd through 9th. This room offer is only available until April 11th. Reserve your room today!

The Hilton Bayfront is located in the center of many attractions. Keep reading for a brief overview of what St. Petersburg has to offer.

*valid until March 5th

Dali Museum

dali museumGo and experience the results of a collaboration turned friendship between two of the 20th century’s world-renowned artists: Salvador Dali and Walt Disney. Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination is an exhibit that displays the world shared by these two giants of imagination.* It will take you through paintings, story sketches, photographs, audio, and more that detail the friendship and professional relationship these two cultivated. Also be sure to explore the rest of the museum during this family friendly activity.

*runs January – June

Museum of Fine Arts

Florida-St-Petersburg-Museum-Fine-Arts-Front-FacadeLocated only half a mile from the hotel, the Contemplating Character Exhibit at the museum is just one of the exhibits that will be available for viewing at the Museum of Fine Arts. Go and explore the Neoclassicist, Romanticist, and Realist art styles of the 18th and 19th centuries in an exhibit that features 150 rare portrait drawings and oil sketches of artists, their loved ones, and famous figures. It even includes portraits of George Washington and author Oscar Wilde.


If you’re looking for a meal between your conference sessions or a nice drink to end the day, Tangerine restaurant and the Dali Bar are conveniently located in the hotel.  If you’re exploring the area around the hotel and get hungry, choose from multiple restaurants such as Gratzzi Italian Grille, Z Grille, Meze 119, or Crowley’s Downtown.

                Be sure to check back for future spotlights on attractions!


Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education: New Recommendations to Congress

On December 6, 2011 The Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities, authorized by Congress reported that recommendations to Congress have been made that will provide for direction and result in breaking the barriers to existing instruction for students with disabilities.  These recommendations mark gains in equalizing opportunities for students with print disabilities.

Laura Kaloi, the Public Policy Director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities stated, “While acknowledging the complex and real barriers facing schools, publishers and most important, students in accessing instructional materials, the report makes it clear that students with disabilities should not be denied the opportunity to fully benefit from a postsecondary education. Barriers to existing instructional materials should be removed or surmounted. Future instructional materials can and must be designed to meet the needs of all students, including students with disabilities. The prosperity of our nation and its people depends on full inclusion and full access.”

Recommendations from the Commission include using the information developed in the study to:

  1. Inform Federal regulations and legislation
  2. Support model programs that improve quality and efficiency of the delivery of instructional materials
  3. Identify best practices for collecting, maintaining, processing and disseminating materials in specialized formats making sure costs are comparable to materials produced for non disabled students
  4. To improve effective use of such materials by faculty and staff while complying with applicable copyright law
  5. Modify definitions of: instructional materials, authorized entities, and eligible students

Click here to view the full report and statement by James H. Wendorf, Executive Director of the National Commission on Learning Disabilities.

Top Stories in Literacy: December 5

New fees drive down adult education enrollment in Florida
Many of Florida’s high school dropouts are giving up the chance to go back to school because they now are required to pay tuition. Enrollment in GED preparation classes has fallen 70 % in Broward County and 61% in Palm Beach County.

Proposal emerges to create adult charter schools
Nudged by a Tallahassee-based non-profit group, two lawmakers are poised to file bills that would allow charter schools and non-profits to offer adult education.

Literacy Coach wins Leadership Grant
Melissa Lime, a member of the board of directors of Learn to Read St. John’s County and instructional reading coach at Pacetti Bay Middle School has received the 2011 Eve Proffitt Emerging Leaders Project Grant from the PDK Educational Foundation.

The Khan Academy: Changing the Face of Education?
One organization that has found a way to improve education through technology is the Khan Academy. By providing an online library of math videos and assessments for students to use, they have created a self-driven, individualized curriculum that motivates students with immediate feedback and positive rewards.

The NEFC Sets Launch Date for the Core 80 Financial Literacy Curriculum
The 2012 version of the NFECs’ Core 80 Financial Literacy Curriculum is launching the second week of January and is designed to provide educators and volunteers engaging lesson plans to improve the financial capability of their students.

Erin Balleine: Americorps VISTA and Florida Literacy

As you may know, the Florida Literacy Coalition has partnered with AmeriCorps*VISTA to place VISTA volunteers in community based literacy organizations throughout the state.  AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) provides full-time members to nonprofit, community organizations, and public agencies to create and expand programs that ultimately bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty.

AmeriCorps*VISTA members leverage human, financial, and material resources to increase the capacity of low-income communities across the country to solve their own problems.  Currently, VISTAs within our statewide project work on 3 main goals including:

  1. Financial Literacy
  2. College/Career Pathways
  3. At least one of the following
    1. Health Literacy
    2. Family Literacy
    3. Prison Re-entry
    4. GED/TOEFL readiness

VISTAs must work on the projects mentioned above, they must have a desk, computer and phone and have a full time supervisor.  Sites pay a $500 administrative fee to the Florida Literacy Coalition per year for a full time (35-40 hours a week) VISTA placement.

VISTAs are paid a small living stipend ($10,692) through the Corporation of National and Community Service and receive health care and their choice of a educational award worth $5550 or a $1500 cash award at the end of their service.

Our partnership with AmeriCorps*VISTA has been incredibly successful over the past 7 years.  Over the past year, statewide, our VISTAs have recruited over 1000 volunteers and solicited almost half a million dollars in cash and non-cash resources.  Organizations have benefited greatly from the services that a full time VISTA member has been able to provide to the organization and the community!

If you are interested in becoming a VISTA site, contact me at or 407-246-7110 X202.

You can also find more information about VISTA at or