Blog categories
Oct 15, 2018 |
  No Comments

One-room schoolhouse. That phrase conjures historical images of a schoolmarm tending to children of all ages. Imagine it: one teacher alone with a room full of children. No administrators. No cafeteria staffs. No maintenance crews. Thankfully schools have evolved into thriving communities of support!

NCFL Education Solutions

In conversations with past winners of the Toyota Family Teacher of the Year (TOY)award, they recognized that educating families requires teamwork. Educators, administrators, paraprofessionals, and support staff work together for the good of their students. Katy Kibbey (TOY 2008) of Michigan discussed her team’s commitment to working together. “We have devoted time for planning and discussing. We all have to be in this together, to best serve the family and be on the same page.”

Working as part of an effective team is not always easy. While some teams blend naturally, others require work to come together. Past Teachers of the Year identified the following key elements for effective teams:

  • Having open communication
  • Mentoring each other
  • Providing help and support when needed
  • Being flexible
  • Being open to others’ ideas

But award-winning teachers know that families benefit when teams come together. Some teachers spoke so strongly about the importance of teamwork that they were reluctant to talk about their individual successes. Kay Brown (2010 TOY) of Louisiana said, “I get nowhere without the team around me. This is not a one-person show.” Cecilia Ramirez (2001 TOY) of Arizona echoed that sentiment. “We all worked as a whole. A comprehensive team. We learned that by working together, the benefit is so powerful for parents and the children.”

Working as a team benefits families, but teachers are also rewarded for their efforts. When Karen Klima-Thomas (Arizona), the recipient of the inaugural Teacher of the Year award, said, “When I accepted the award at the convention, I stated that I would not be up there were it not for Marilyn Box and the whole Family Tree team. I believe that to this day. Linda Mead [adult education teacher] and I clicked from the very first time we met. She was the best teacher partner I could have ever had. My team was everything. My own team at my school and the Family Tree Program in total. We were so lucky to come together. I was so lucky to be part of something that changed so many lives.”

From teacher to teacher - it’s not a one person show. It takes a village. What activities does your school or program do to promote teamwork? Share your ideas in the comment section below. One lucky person who comments will be chosen to receive a free copy of “Stronger Families, Stronger Communities,” the NCFL publication that is the basis for this blog series.


Leave A Comment

NCFL Partners

NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image
NCFL Image


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