A perfect fit: Florida’s Suncoast region joins Remake Learning Days Across America

Posted on Tue, March 22, 2022 by

Florida’s four-county Suncoast region will soon become the 17th part of the country to celebrate Remake Learning Days Across America (RLDAA). This collaborative festival of hands-on learning couldn’t be a better fit for the region, where cooperative learning projects have been a priority in recent years. 

Educators and out-of-school-time providers in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto counties jointly created a local chapter of the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in 2015. Since then, their collective projects have included the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge and the Kindergarten Readiness Bag program. 

Kindergarten Readiness Bags ensure “that all of our incoming kindergartners and their parents are given a bag full of supplies that will help them be ready for that first day of school,” says The Patterson Foundation’s Beth Duda, director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and local point person for the RLDAA festival, happening April 29-May 8. 

The spirit of regional collaboration has continued growing each year, Duda says, and ”we’re always looking at how we can strengthen the work of individuals, organizations and the community.”  


When Duda heard Remake Learning co-chair Gregg Behr explain the history and goals of RLDAA at a virtual “Learning Happens Everywhere” gathering, she “felt like he was talking about what we were already doing. We were thrilled to get an invitation to be the next region to be a part of Remake Learning Days.”

So far, the Suncoast region has more than 60 events planned. Many of these are creative collaborations sparked during a series of online gatherings where local organizations learned about the festival. 

Just one example: During one of these interactive webinars, folks from a theater company met people from a local library. Together with an organization called Embracing Our Differences, these organizations are collaborating on an event called Loud at the Library. This raucous hands-on learning celebration “will be families coming together with full permission to make noise and be loud at the library,” Duda says. 

”I think if any one of these organizations thought they had to do this by themselves that might be a little bit of a barrier,” she says. By participating in a national festival and collaborating on joint events, “everybody’s kind of in the same boat – all brainstorming together.” 

Other Suncoast events include a collaborative nighttime science event at a farmer’s market in an underserved neighborhood. Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art is also planning their own version of “Night at the Museum.” 

“They’ve got costumes and props so that families can impersonate some of the masterwork paintings that they have. And then they have different art and maker activities that will be happening with the families as well.” 

This event really captures this year’s festival theme:  “Explore, Wonder and Learn Together.” Previous RLDAA research shows the power of having parents and kids wonder together as they explore hands-on learning events.

One more whole-family event Duda is excited about: USF Sarasota Manatee will host an event about dance through the decades: For instance, Duda says, “the Charleston was very popular in the 1920s historically because that was one of the first times women were able to show their knees in public. They’ll be teaching iconic dances from the decades, but then tying in the history from the decades as well.”

Part of the magic of Remake Learning Days is the way it connects families with all kinds of educators and educational spaces in their community. As people learn together and have fun together, they build relationships along the way. 

Parents and kids in under-resourced households may not have relationships or a sense of connection to out-of-school-time learning programs and organizations like libraries, museums and afterschool programs in their community. 

Through Remake Learning Days events, they can make those personal connections and feel welcome to keep on returning to those places after the festival ends. For the Suncoast region, that’s a priority. 

Outside her office door, Duda has a wall hanging that says “Change happens at the speed of trust.” 

“That’s something that we really believe in,” she says. “Trust happens as a result of people doing something together. All of the initiatives and projects that we are involved in are all about bringing people together, finding shared aspirations, finding ways that we can work together.” 

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