Catching up with the 2021 Toyota Family Teacher of the Year

In 2021, Manoucheka Dolcine of Broward County, Florida was named the Toyota Family Teacher of the Year in recognition of her career-long dedication to fostering family learning environments in the classroom. For nearly three decades, the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) and Toyota have partnered to recognize school- and community-based educators who use multi-generational approaches to learning, literacy, and family engagement. The annual Family Teacher of the Year receives a grant to create or scale a family learning program in their school or community, and NCFL is excited to share more about how Dolcine is putting her award to work!

NCFL CEO & President, Felicia C. Smith, with 2021 Teacher of the Year, Manoucheka Dolcine.

“My dream project was to have a literacy resource room in my school. The Charles Drew Family Resource Center is tailored to the student population’s needs and wants,” says Dolcine. Without the resource center, students and families have had to walk to the local library for story time or other resources like Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programming. When creating her project, Dolcine prioritized the safety of early learners, wanting to ensure that they will no longer have to travel off-site in order to meet their literacy needs. In addition to the students at the elementary school, she wanted to create a space where high school and adult program students had a place to research and read books, and where families could take advantage of relevant workshops on the school campus.

“For over a decade, my school has needed an onsite resource room as an essential resource that would accommodate its student population. Using my $20,000 award, we started renovating a dedicated space for our resource room, which included purchasing computers and the appropriate software, stocking the room with books and supplies, and sprucing it up with wall decorations and plants,” Dolcine says. “In addition, we were also able to provide financial assistance to support the families that wanted to register for ESOL/GED classes.”

In the near future when the Charles Drew Family Resource Center opens it will hold regular adult education classes including ABE, GED, and ESOL programming. Dolcine’s passion for mentoring young adult parents will also be seen in the center’s planned “Mommy and Me” classes for teen mothers and their babies. A variety of training and workshops will also be hosted in their new resource room.

Reading materials prepared for the resource center.

A quote that resonates with Manoucheka is from author and speaker Mike Holt, “Embrace every opportunity to increase your knowledge.” Manoucheka lives out this sentiment in the way she supports families by providing reading resources with her grant project (pictured above), encouraging parents to take advantage of the ESOL/GED classes, and constantly interacting with other educators to grow her strategies. 

Do you know an educator who is committed to engaging families just like Dolcine? Nominate them for the 2023 Toyota Teacher of the Year award by 11:59 p.m. PDT on Thursday, May 18, 2023.