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Oct 27, 2021 |

Manoucheka Dolcine of Broward County, Florida has been selected for the top family engagement honor in the nation as she was named the 2021 Toyota Family Teacher of the Year through a surprise announcement among her peers. The annual award is a decades-long collaboration between Toyota and the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). Throughout her career, Dolcine has fostered family learning environments by involving both parents and children in her classroom with an emphasis on positive social interactions, sensory and social-emotional activities, soft job skills, workforce and career development, and academic mentorship programs for young adult parents.

Manoucheka Dolcine of Broward County, Florida
Manoucheka Dolcine of Broward County, Florida

The Toyota Family Teacher of the Year award, a national honor now in its 25th year, recognizes families play a crucial role in the success of children and salutes educators who are exceptional at using multi-generational approaches to engage students and their families in education. “Manoucheka Dolcine’s passion and values align with our education focus and efforts to bring forward solutions co-created together with the community,” said Mike Goss, general manager, Toyota Social Innovation. “We are so inspired by Manoucheka’s work and we are proud to name her the 2021 Toyota Family Teacher of the Year.”

Dolcine and runner-up Mario Godoy-Gonzalez, of Royal City, Washington, were surprised virtually in front of their peers in recent weeks.  The public announcement of both winners was made today at the closing of the 2021 Families Learning Conference.  NCFL’s annual conference convenes national experts in education, family engagement, and research to discuss and share the latest information regarding multigenerational approaches to learning.

Dolcine’s school will receive $20,000 to enhance her multigenerational program focused on teen parents. As runner-up, Mario Godoy-Gonzalez’s school will receive a $5,000 grant award to further his family engagement efforts. Since 1997, Toyota Family Teacher of the Year winners, runners-up, and their respective organizations have received more than $625,000 and funded 50 innovative teacher-led projects.

Mario Godoy-Gonzalez of Royal City, Washington

Dolcine has worked hard to bring intentionality to her district’s family engagement efforts by creating programming that responds to the needs of families. When she saw a need for an upgraded childcare solution, she proposed, designed, and implemented a licensed preschool program that has tripled the number of students that can be serviced in the Broward County community. To combat chronic absence and promote program retention, Dolcine initiates weekly home visits and well-being checkups with parents and students. Additionally, she coordinates semester food and clothing distribution drives to ensure families’ basic needs are being met so they can focus on the core multigenerational education programming. 

All teachers have been confronted with new challenges during the last two years due to the pandemic. Dolcine and Gonzalez have continued to demonstrate their outstanding commitment to students and families despite these uniquely challenging circumstances. NCFL President Dr. Felicia Cumings Smith says “We are happy to recognize Manoucheka Dolcine as this year’s winner and Mario Godoy-Gonzalez as runner-up. Both are visionary educators who are constantly assessing, creating, and innovating for families in their communities. By engaging multiple generations of the family in learning together, these outstanding teachers are linking research to practice and fostering an environment where families can thrive.”

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NCFL Partners

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Toyota

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