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Feb 26, 2018 |
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In a previous Education Solutions blog post, we shared pearls of wisdom from teachers who had been selected as a Toyota Family Teacher of the Year. Over the past 20 years, professionals from across the nation were chosen for this honor because of their firm commitment to families. The hard work, effort, dedication, and determination of these Toyota Family Teacher of the Year recipients goes beyond teaching young people to helping them succeed at life. These teachers worked long hours, often taking their support of families outside the classroom walls and into families’ homes and personal lives.

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Each teacher shared habits which they consider the keys for success in working with students and families. Not surprisingly, many of these habits are practices that countless teachers use to make their work more meaningful and successful. From teacher to teacher, here are 10 practices to build stronger families and stronger communities:

  1. Focus on families. Put families in the forefront of everything you do.
  2. Cultivate passion and energy within yourself. Be passionate, enthusiastic, and positive. Love what you do, get out of your comfort zone, and enjoy the experience.
  3. Build Trust. Make sure students know they are valued, and that their contributions are welcome. Building trust grows out of knowing that teachers are sincere.
  4. Build community. We all benefit from a community of support. We are stronger together than separate.
  5. Make personal connections and develop relationships. Nothing is more important than the human connection. Make that connection every day.
  6. Engage your team. It’s not a one person show. It takes a village.
  7. Be a learner. Learn in order to teach. Learn from your experiences and from your students.
  8. Be a reader. Read, and share the love of books and reading with others.
  9. Begin every day. Be prepared. Students deserve your best every day.
  10. End every day. Reflect. What will you do differently tomorrow?

Stay tuned to the Hotspot for Families Learning blog as we explore each of these practices in more depth throughout 2018. Subscribe today so that you can be part of the conversation!

Additionally, Stronger Families, Stronger Communities, NCFL’s recent publication, explores the work of Toyota Family Teacher of the Year recipients; purchase a copy at Amazon to learn more about their successful strategies for working with families.


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NCFL Partners

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Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities

William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

NCFL received its very first donation in 1989 from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to promote and implement family literacy programming, first in Kentucky and North Carolina and later nationwide. The Kenan Family Literacy Model in part laid the groundwork for 30 years of subsequent family literacy and family learning programming developed by NCFL.

Kenan has continued to support NCFL’s place-based family literacy programs since our inception. Most recently, it has invested in our organization’s Sharon Darling Innovation Fund, which will launch emerging ideas and programmatic evolutions in the multigenerational learning space.

Learn more about the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to guide potential students and volunteers to literacy services, community education programs, and testing centers in their communities.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.

Learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation

PNC Grow Up Great

PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994, most recently in Louisville, Kentucky, to support Say & Play with Words, our pre-Kindergarten vocabulary-building initiative.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

Learn more about PNC Grow Up Great

U.S. Department of Education

Initiated through the U.S. Department of Education in 2018, the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program provides 12 grantees and 13 states with five-year, $5 million grants to promote and implement systemic evidenced-based family engagement strategies. NCFL was selected to lead SFECs in two states, Arizona and Nebraska, and is a primary partner for two other SFECs in Kentucky and Maryland/Pennsylvania. 

The SFECs work to support family engagement through state- and local-level agencies while providing both professional development to school districts and direct services to families related to children’s academic outcomes and overall well-being.

Learn more about the U.S. Department of Education

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

NCFL was named a recipient of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s "Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge," which seeks to elevate diverse voices in order to broaden the conversation about the issues inhibiting economic mobility and generate deeper awareness along with actionable understanding. NCFL will develop and launch a podcast series that will highlight the remarkable stories of low-income, diverse families across the U.S. who have improved their communities through Family Service Learning.

Foundation Website