Conference roundup! Highlights from the 2022 Families Learning Conference

Spanning three months and three different programs, the 2022 Families Learning Conference tripled the learning as attendees gathered virtually in October, met in Nashville during November, and descended on Phoenix in December! Whether they registered for one event or managed to squeeze in two or three, participants had a vast array of workshops to experience, speakers to learn from, and fellow attendees to network with. 

NCFL president, Felicia Cumings Smith, speaks at the Nashville Regional Meetup.
NCFL president, Felicia Cumings Smith,
speaks at the Nashville Regional Meetup.

Attendees representing nearly 40 states, Washington, DC, Canada, and Wales joined the conference this year. Feedback of the virtual event held October 25-26 tells us that attendees appreciated that all concurrent presentations were held in Zoom, which allowed for more interaction and engagement among participants. They also were glad to know that presentation recordings are available to watch for 90 days after the event.

The conference was kicked off by keynote speaker Candy Magaña, MPA, director of Health Equity Advancement, Innovation, and Training at Humana, who demonstrated how health equity and education intersect, and the importance of investing in the well-being of the whole person to make equitable changes. PNC Grow Up Great® and the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health joined us on October 25th to share how the TMW Center’s 3Ts—Tune In, Talk More, and Take Turns—is a powerful tool to make everyday conversations valuable learning experiences for children. 

Keynote speaker Sharlonda Buckman-Davis, author of The Ardent Advocate and assistant superintendent of Family and Community Engagement for Detroit Public Schools, started October 26th with a powerful keynote centered on the question: “And so, how are the children?” Attendees competed to win a copy of her book by playing the virtual platform game, and the top 10 players received The Ardent Advocate in the mail! Long-time NCFL partner, Toyota, was in attendance to reveal the 2022 Toyota Family Teacher of the Year, Ivonne Ortiz of Mesa, Arizona and the runner-up, Dae Selcer of Columbia Heights, Minnesota.

Early math was explored during the Heising-Simons Foundation’s featured session on co-design and making math more fun for parents and children alike. To close out two thought-provoking days of virtual learning and connection, the Kentucky Student Voice Team highlighted the critical need for students’ voices to be heard in the process of making educational decisions and demonstrated the impact their work has made nationally. 

Attendee surprised by winning a Dollar General mini grant
Attendee surprised by winning a Dollar General Literacy Foundation mini-grant.

The next stop on the #NCFL22 tour was Nashville, Tennessee, as educators, librarians, parent leaders, and family-facing staff met in person on November 4th. In addition to a day of learning, connection, and networking, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation surprised attendees with mini-grants! 

Phoenix regional opening session.
Phoenix Regional Meetup opening session.

Finally, the 2022 Families Learning Conference wrapped up with one final stop in Phoenix, Arizona on December 2nd, where Ivonne Ortiz received the crystal apple award for being named Toyota Family Teacher of the Year. Ivonne wasn’t the only one to receive something special, though. Thanks to Toyota, each Phoenix attendee received a school supply kit to support a 24-student classroom! Learn more about Toyota’s generous donation.

We were also thrilled to learn from a panel of parenting adults who participate in NCFL’s family leadership program. They dove into best practices and lessons learned when it comes to activating parent leaders and the impact they make for their community. 

While our Regional Meetups had different offerings for attendees to engage in, a few presentations were offered at both locations! Zeno Math and MathTalk held hands-on sessions where attendees explored the fun of family math. The National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) hosted an in-depth walkthrough of the Family Engagement Core Competencies and the evidence-based tools that make a real difference in family engagement. NCFL staff also presented best practices in family literacy, family engagement, and family leadership, and our partners demonstrated how these pathways show up in their communities.

For 2023, we’re excited to host an in-person conference in Omaha, Nebraska, from October 23-25. To learn more about the 2023 conference and registration, subscribe to NCFL’s monthly newsletter: We hope to see you next October!