The view from my balcony suite at the Sheraton Marina in San Diego wasn’t the only inspiration in my life last week. I had a chance to participate in the 21st annual National Conference on Family Literacy (NCFL) in San Diego, CA.
I have to wonder why San Diego wasn’t on my bucket list before this. Temperate weather is just one of the things this city of over a million people – the eighth largest city in the USA – can boast about. It’s also surprisingly clean.
As I walked along Harbor Island Drive, the area near the airport at San Diego Bay felt safe, especially with the naval base on the opposite shore.
The big brown pelicans dove into the Bay nearby, with no fear of human intervention.
And the views of the San Diego Skyline, and the Coronado Bridge, just added to my appreciation of the area.
I felt lucky to have a chance to see these views in March, and equally lucky to be attending a major conference of literacy advocates, offering training and networking opportunities. I attended two of the 10 full-day or half-day pre-conference workshops that kicked-off the event.
The following three days offered many opportunities for some 1200 participants, by unofficial count. We had a choice of at least 10 concurrent sessions in each of four time slots during the day, as well as another round of concurrent sessions on the final day. That’s well over 50 workshop sessions to choose from.
Instead of or as well as concurrent sessions, participants could choose to attend featured sessions twice a day. As well as all this, exhibitors provided a trade show of cutting-edge information and tools. And a poster session on the second afternoon brought 30 special literacy projects and activities to our attention, from across the country.
During the banquet and luncheon events, we heard from guest speakers ranging from experts with sage advice to learners with heartening stories to share. And a special session finished the final afternoon of the conference.
Here’s a quick sampling of the views I heard:
- Families need to be engaged with their children “from cradle to career,” says family literacy advocate and author Karen Mapp.
- Expectations matter, says youth advocate, Rhodes scholar, and author Wes Moore. Education matters, because of who you’re learning from and who you’re learning with.
- Literacy isn’t just a goal for “them” – for “those families” we may think of as “needing help” – but rather, it’s a tool for everyone, say workshop leaders Kimberly Scott and Margaret Doughty of Literacy Powerline. Literacy should be a priority, because it’s the key to effective business, government, advocacy, and all manner of work in our communities. Engaging the whole community in literacy is our best method of building effective coalitions, to improve the quality of life for us all.
And that’s barely scratching the surface of my notes and memories from the San Diego NCFL conference. If you’ve attended the NCFL conference, this year or another year, what views did you see and hear? Please leave a comment, and let’s share ideas.