Stronger Families, Stronger Communities

20 Years of Highly Effective Teaching Practices Supporting Two-Generation Learning

From: National Center for Families Learning

Learn more about our new Teacher of the Year book, Stronger Families, Stronger Communities

Learn more

You are invited to attend National Center for Families Learning's free Family Teacher of the Year webinar events! This webinar series is based on a new book now available from NCFL, Stronger Families, Stronger Communities: 20 Years of Highly Effective Teaching Practices Supporting Two-Generation Learning. View more details and purchase by clicking here.

Stronger Families, Stronger Communities uncovers the common practices of 20 of the nation's best teachers-those receiving the Toyota Family Teacher of the Year Award across two decades -highlighting their most effective teaching strategies for supporting two-generation learning.

With a firm commitment to families, these award-winning teachers share their approaches to strengthening families and communities. The hard work and determination of each of these Toyota Family Teacher of the Year recipients go well beyond the basic tasks of teaching in order to best support families and help them succeed at life.

Their stories inspire and motivate. Their collective wisdom provides valuable insight for family learning practitioners. The teachers taught and personalized their teaching to each student. They shared and gave of themselves. They showed up and never gave students less than what they deserved. Their lessons learned provide insight into what works and what doesn't work-but perhaps more importantly, what worked for them.

We invite you into their two-generation worlds to read their stories, reflect on their practices, and benefit from their experiences-creating stronger families and communities. You'll hear from five of these high-performing teachers in this Webinar series.

Author Highlights - Teacher to Teacher

  • Dr. Josh Cramer, NCFL
  • Kim Jacobs, NCFL
  • Patricia Lovett, NCFL

Kristen Whitaker - Teacher to Teacher Webinar 1

Award Year – 2015 High School History Teacher, Columbia Heights Educational Campus, Washington, DC. As a full time history teacher, Kristen works to engage families of her students through home visits. According to her principal, Maria Tukeva, Kristen has developed family engagement skills that go well beyond the expectations and imagination of the school. Maria shares that, “Through perseverance and continual learning, Kristen devised countless ways of using what she learned about families and students during home visits, to differentiate her classroom teaching." Kristen is the only high school teacher to receive the Toyota Teacher of the Year award.

Elizabeth Atack - Teacher to Teacher Webinar 2

Award Year – 2014 Library Program Manager, Nashville Public Library, Nashville, Tennessee Elizabeth (Liz) Atack works at Nashville Public Library (NPL), where she oversees Bringing Books to Life (BBTL), a preschool literacy outreach program. In addition to managing the program's daily and long range operations, she is on the front lines of helping kids learn (and love!) to read, juggling story times, trainings for teachers and reading workshops for parents. Under her leadership, BBTL has won local and national awards. Locally, Liz is the vice chair of Alignment Nashville's Pre-K Team and serves on advisory boards for local early education and parent engagement organizations. Before coming to NPL in 2007, Liz was a teacher and museum educator. She graduated from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and holds a Master's Degree in Childhood Museum Education from Bank Street College of Education in New York City.

NCFL’S Donna Elder & Patricia Lovett - Teacher to Teacher Webinar 3

Amy Hall- Teacher to Teacher Webinar 4

Award Year – 2005 Early Childhood Teacher, Hannahville Community School FACE Program, Wilson, Michigan Amy holds a Bachelor's Degree with teacher certification in Child Care, Family Life Education, and Home Economics. She was the early childhood teacher for the Hannahville Family and Child Education (FACE) program on the Potowatomi Reservation, Hannahville, Michigan, at the time of her award. She has extensive experience working with children from birth to five years of age, in her community and in northern Michigan. Eleven years after the Teacher of the Year honor, and after 18 years of working in the Hannahville FACE program, Amy is still very much involved in working with families. A few years ago, she traded in her preschool teacher hat to work more closely with the adults in the adult education classroom.


Award Year – 2016 Parent Educator, South Shore Hospital, Weymouth, MA Jean Ciborowski Fahey, Ph.D., has been active in the field of early literacy for nearly 40 years. Jean designed the South Shore Hospital Reading Partnership to educate the community about the profound opportunity parents have to build a reading brain in a children's first five years, and prevent children from experiencing early reading problems. Jean teaches, blogs, and speaks on a variety of early literacy topics, targeting parents and those who work with parents. Prior to working at South Shore Hospital, Jean assessed young children for reading difficulties at Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, worked as an adjunct language and literacy professor at Lesley University, and as an early literacy specialist with the national office of Reach Out and Read. At the Massachusetts State Department of Education, office of Adult Basic Education, she coordinated family literacy services for Massachusetts' most vulnerable families.

Mark Faloni - Teacher to Teacher Webinar 6

Award Year – 2006 Adult Education/ESL Instructor, Briya Public Charter School, Washington, DC After graduating from college with degrees in Spanish and education, Mark knew he wanted to work in the Latino community. Originally from Baltimore, where there wasn't a huge Latino community in the late 1980's, he decided to move closer to the District of Columbia where the immigrant population was much larger. His professional career began when he took a job with an Even Start Program as an ESL teacher, working with Latino high schoolers and their babies. Twenty-some years later, Mark still works in the program, serving upwards of 450-500 student families on a yearly basis. Collaborating with Mary's Center and Briya Public Charter School, the program's plan and vision continues in that educated families can be healthier families.

For more information contact Patricia Lovett»

NCFL Partners

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Toyota Family Learning Program

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

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 reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.

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®.

Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website

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 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.

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.

PNC Grow Up Great

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.

Visit the Foundation website

Better World Books

Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.

Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.

Better World Books

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.

Foundation Website

Goodling Institute

NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.

The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.

Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University