Welcome to the National League of Junior Cotillions® (NLJC®). Established in 1989, and growing steadily since, we are a team of directors nationwide who believe in intentionally teaching children courtesy and character in order to build confident, self-assured, and influential adults in our communities. Our programs offer parents an opportunity to provide their school-aged children with the confidence of practicing life skills in an encouraging environment. We include training in courtesy, character, social dance, mannerly conduct, and more. We truly believe manners will never go out of style and the skills we help children develop are the skills of a lifetime.
Why, you may wonder, do we care so much? Why do we teach with such passion? Why are our students among the most successful in their graduating classes? To find the answer to these questions (and more), it is best that we start at the very beginning.
The story of the National League of Junior Cotillions® begins over 25 years ago, in Lincolnton, North Carolina circa 1979 when Anne Colvin Winters, a visionary young woman with a background in performing arts, began teaching etiquette classes to children in her small town. She wanted, more than anything, to teach the young people of her community confidence, courtesy, and the social skills she believed necessary for success. When Anne met Charles Anthony Winters in 1981, the two fell in love and were married. Anne enlisted her husband to start helping with her classes, and the two began to build a thriving cotillion program from the ground up. Their first class was held at an armory in Lincolnton, for which the young couple had to rent absolutely everything, right down to the very punchbowl used to serve their students and parents. However, the humble beginnings of the NLJC® are only the beginning.
As the program in Lincolnton grew, Anne, an entrepreneur at heart, envisioned a training program through which other women who shared her passion for community involvement and education could learn to build their own cotillion programs, too. While cotillions, programs where children practiced social dance, were fairly common, the way in which Anne approached her programs was quite unique. Most programs at the time taught mainly dance, but she believed strongly in the importance of including courtesy, etiquette, and life skills as a major part of the curriculum. She believed in keeping an equal ratio of young men and women in each class, and she believed in a structured learning environment where every child felt comfortable, safe, and successful. And so, the National League of Junior Cotillions® was born.
Over the next few years, Anne and Charles traveled around the country training directors and building communities. Anne’s dedication to her directors was legendary. She was deeply invested in each and every director, and made sure they all knew how much she appreciated their efforts. With the help of a writer from Charlotte, Anne developed detailed training manuals in the early years, meticulously outlining the steps to building a successful program for her new directors. Order and organization made each director comfortable from the beginning, and the structure she put in place meant each cotillion operated smoothly. Directors from all walks of life began building their own programs and enjoying the impact their work had on the community.
Anne Winters, her husband, and her dedicated directors built today’s NLJC on a foundation of respect, courtesy, and faith, and though she is no longer with us, her legacy lives on. Her impact through the National League of Junior Cotillions™ lives on in each graduate who completes a first college interview with poise, confidently introduces himself to the date who may become his future spouse, or feels comfortable at a social gathering for the very first time. We will remember her always, and our directors strive to carry on her legacy.