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Jan 19, 2018 |
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As a teacher working with children and parents, have you ever wished you could sit down with master teachers who came before you and ask them about their best practices? How would those conversations make a difference in your own teaching practice?

Have you ever wondered how they keep their motivation high, year after year? What lessons learned would they share? What habits did they develop? And what would they do differently, if given the chance?

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The answers to these questions, and others, would be useful information for new and experienced teachers alike.  Although we can’t sit down with every master teacher, we did have the opportunity to interview and discuss these topics with award-winning family learning teachers from across the United States.

In our published book, Stronger Families, Stronger Communities, we share insights from 20 Toyota Family Teachers of the Year.  They discuss the importance of building trust in order to build community within their classrooms.  One teacher reminds us that “no child or parent is a cookie cutter. Support each person individually. This allows you to stay fresh and grow as an educator.” And another one shares that “negative behavior is an opportunity to remind ourselves that children and adults walk in the door every day with challenges. Be part of their successes.”

There are many more pearls of wisdom that teachers echoed throughout their interviews, such as

  • Be positive!
  • Meet parents where they are.
  • Listen between the lines.
  • Make a personal connection, every day, with every student.
  • Advocate for families—collect their stories.
  • Be honest and real with students.
  • Find the humor in everyday life.
  • Read, read, read.

These top family learning teachers were generous when sharing their proven practices and strategies, and we’d like to share them with you. Check back at our Hotspot for Families Learning blog each month for additional posts.  You can also listen to several of the teachers share their insights in this webinar series or purchase Stronger Families, Stronger Communities in paperback or e-book.

We also recognize that there are many teachers in our online community who have their own pearls of wisdom to share.  What piece of advice can you offer to help other teachers?


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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