Melissa Prunty nominated David Franklin for Class Acts. Prunty said Franklin is a great teacher and very involved. Franklin leads by example and has a hands-on approach that gets children involved and wanting to learn, Prunty added.
• Name: David Franklin
• Age: 48
• City of residence: Modesto
• Occupation: Great Valley Academy teacher
• Family: Wife, Sandra; daughter, Rehana (Modesto High); and son, Daniel (Somerset Middle School).
• Education background: Bachelor's in philosophy/religion, McPherson College, 1984; certificate in business management, Penn State, 1992; teaching credential, California State University, Stanislaus, 2007; course work for master's in nonprofit administration, University of San Francisco, 2005-07.
• Teaching experience: I thoroughly enjoyed being a sub throughout Stanislaus County for 1½ years. I taught first grade for one year at Gladys Poet-Christian Arts Magnet School in Tracy. For two years, I have been a primary multiage teacher at Great Valley Academy.
Why did you get into teaching? My initial inspiration was based on my concern for my children's education. I was very fortunate to be a board member at their school, Thornhill Primary School in Gabarone, Botswana. My children's teachers were fantastic, and I was honored to work with the head teacher, Helen Mathole. Transitioning back to Modesto, my family, many of whom are teachers, suggested I try substitute teaching until I found steady employment. Surprisingly, I discovered working with students to be great fun and an enticing challenge. Consequently, I decided to pursue education as a new career and have found working with children to be a wonderful combination of joy and meaningful engagement.
What is your favorite part about being a teacher? I enjoy the rhythm each day brings for challenging students to learn new concepts (taxing the brain) and tapping into the natural childhood energy that seeks fun, movement, creativity and expression (recreation). I'm learning to make all of it an educational experience.
What is the most challenging part of your job? "Balancing the needs of the one with the needs of the many" -- Spock. Every student is unique, and meeting his or her needs in ways that are relevant and meaningful keeps me thinking late at night.
What is the most important lesson you've learned? Teamwork. The synergy that is possible when students help each other, teacher colleagues focus their energy on a solution, with parents' support and community partnerships, extend a lesson beyond the classroom. Students benefit.
What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? Juggling. It is great fun. It keeps me honest because I drop them a lot and get bonked on the nose occasionally. We laugh. We challenge each other to get better and develop teamwork. It develops social skills, stimulates body and brain growth. It's kinesthetic and academic learning, all going on at the same time. The key is providing a challenging cognitive task and physical task at the same time.
What's next in your classroom? As part of our government unit we are learning the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution. Our next culminating event for parents will demonstrate what students have learned in our government unit.
What advice do you have for students? Discover the wonderful world within the pages of books.
What advice do you have for parents? Hug your child in the morning, after school and before bed. Lavishly dive into stories, either ones you create or ones you read to your child.
What will it take to improve academic success in the valley? Patience. Be patient with young children. They are fragile. Allow children the time they need to grow up and develop at their own pace. Pushing more demanding standards onto younger children creates frustrated and dysfunctional students. The United States does not have the No. 1 elementary school system in the world. So look to those countries who teach children better than we do, learn from them and implement it in an American way.
How do you reach students not interested in school? Be their friend. Make a real connection and leverage that relationship so that trust creeps in and begins to allow curiosity, desire and willingness to engage in learning.
What one area should schools put more emphasis on? Teach the way children learn. Watch children play. A shift in emphasis from centrally mandated achievement scores to a child-centric educational environment increases the relevance and level of engagement of our students. I believe this will improve academic achievement.
If you could change one thing about the current educational system, what would it be and why? Require a more rigorous teacher credentialing program that includes several classes in childhood development.
What would surprise people about your job? It's complexity. I recently bought a cool toy. It is a glass lens. When you look through it you see about 16 copies of whatever you are looking at. Teaching students is like that. There are at least 16 things to be thinking about for 21 students in each lesson. I marvel at those teachers who make it look easy.
What are your future plans? I will be attending some math professional development workshops. I look forward to learning more, improving my skills and sharing the best parts with my friends.