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Literacy Teacher Earns National Honor

The National Center for Family Literacy and Toyota honored Long Beach School for Adults teacher Carolyn Blocker with the 2013 Toyota Teacher of the Year Award recently at the National Conference on Family Literacy in Louisville, Ky.

Blocker has worked for the past seven years to improve the lives of more than 300 families as a parent education teacher at the School for Adults, which is run by the Long Beach Unified School District.  Blocker was recognized for achieving high levels of parent engagement and a 90 percent retention of families, despite facing the hurdles of economic challenges and language barriers.

“At the beginning of each year, I look at the new group of parents as my garden; I know that we all grow as a result of our experiences together,” says Blocker, who has more than 25 years of experience.  “With family literacy as a foundation, parents become more confident, children become more prepared and families become more successful.”

The local literacy program serves students ages one to eight and their families by providing adult education, parent education, early childhood or school-age education, and parent and child together time.  Many participants come from low-income families who reside in the most impoverished areas of Long Beach.  Most parents are engaged in English as a Second Language or Adult Basic Education courses at the School for Adults or local elementary school campus while their children are in another classroom learning age-appropriate skills.

Blocker will receive $20,000, which she plans to use to implement a program called Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead in the LBC.  This new initiative will give families the opportunity to explore their Long Beach City community through the lens of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (S.T.E.A.M.), a curriculum framework that merges sciences and the arts.  In this family engagement project, parents will attend regular workshops and plan five parent-and-child excursions in the community, using a more global educational approach while building a stronger workforce.

For 17 years, Toyota has sponsored the Teacher of the Year award in partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy to honor educators nationwide who reach beyond the classroom to impact families’ lives.

“We are so excited to honor Carolyn Blocker with the Toyota Teacher of the Year award,” said Patricia Salas Pineda, vice president of National Philanthropy and the Toyota USA Foundation at Toyota Motor North America.  “Her extraordinary work promoting family literacy in her community is a testament to the fact that when parents and children learn together great things can happen.”

“Carolyn’s vision, wisdom and hard work are a testament to the ultimate goal of NCFL – engaging families in the pursuit of learning together,” said Sharon Darling, president and founder of NCFL.

Since 1991, Toyota and NCFL have forged successful programs to promote family literacy in the United States.  Today, the Toyota/NCFL partnership accounts for 256 family literacy sites in 50 cities and 30 states.

The National Center for Family Literacy, founded in 1989 and based in Louisville, Ky., is a worldwide leader in family literacy.  More than a million families have made positive educational and economic gains as a result of NCFL’s work, which includes training more than 150,000 teachers and thousands of volunteers.

Learn more at famlit.org.