Catoctin High School physical education teacher Mike Franklin was named the Frederick County Public Schools 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year during Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban’s “Prize Patrol” visit to his school. The school system’s most prestigious award recognizes outstanding representatives of the teaching profession. In addition to teaching physical education, Franklin chairs the department at his school. He also teaches Fitness for Life through the FCPS Virtual School, coaches baseball, coordinates the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge, and chairs his school’s ROAR Club. He has earned numerous awards including 2014 Maryland Outstanding PE Teacher, 2016 Hood College Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teacher Award, and was named 2017 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coach of the Year.
“We had 70 outstanding Teacher of the Year nominees,” said Alban. “Mr. Franklin’s emphasis on positivity and service to others makes him an excellent representative of quality teaching in Frederick County.”
“There is no more powerful tool than praise,” Franklin says and explains that he believes in the “catch ‘em being good” philosophy of encouraging students to succeed.
“I believe in celebrating successes daily. I’ve seen the power of a compliment or even a simple phone call home to let the parents know their child is awesome.”
One challenge we face in education, he adds, is that “we must make sure that students are ready to learn. We have hungry students, homeless students, students who are battling through family issues.” Teachers can help them develop abilities to manage emotions. “I want my classroom to be a 90-minute vacation from whatever challenges the students are facing in life,” Franklin explains.
As a coach, he asks players to fist-bump a statue as they prepare for athletics practice to signify, “I’m changing attitudes.” He advises scholar-athletes that when they make an error they can take their hat off to signify they let go of their frustrations and put it back on when they “have their minds right” to move forward. Likewise, during the school day, teachers help when they meet students at the door with a positive greeting and help them to do something to identify that they have figuratively “changed hats” and are ready to learn. The most powerful tool we have is our minds, says Franklin: “A compliment can make a kid feel like a million dollars when he’s broke.”
Principal Bernie Quesada shares this wholehearted endorsement: “Mr. Franklin has made a difference for thousands of children in Frederick County in his coaching, mentoring, teaching, and, most importantly, the example he sets for all those who are in his class or work with him. His involvement with the community and the impact he has had on our area are remarkable. Just this past holiday season, he organized a food drive and came to work early every morning to stand outside as the buses arrived and collect items for the local food pantry. That is one of hundreds of examples of selfless actions he has shared as a teacher and colleague. You will not find a more influential teacher leader in FCPS.”
FCPS will celebrate Franklin and each school-selected Teacher of the Year at a special event Friday, May 10 from 4-6 p.m. at Tuscarora High School. The Board of Education will honor Franklin at their meeting on Wednesday, September 11. He and other Maryland district Teachers of the Year will receive honors at a state-wide gala on October 25. Of the 24 local Teachers of the Year, one will be selected the Maryland Teacher of the Year and go on to compete for the National Teacher of the Year award.
Franklin was grateful to receive gifts from community organizations supporting the FCPS Teacher of the Year. Signifying the year 2019, Stauffer Funeral Home donated $2,019, FERKO donated $500, Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre donated tickets valued at $100, and Fountain Rock Restaurant Group donated a $150 gift certificate.
2019-2020 Teacher of the Year Michael Franklin with (left to right) his children Haylee Bentley, Kaylee Franklin and Kathan Franklin, and his wife Kristie Franklin