Life and career experiences are important in teaching. It’s a benefit to students to have a mix of teachers that have come to the profession through diverse experiences.
Emily Franklin studied communication and spent some time in the private sector before choosing her path to teaching. She changed paths, because she wanted to make a real difference. She does that every day.
“I keep a folder labeled “Why I Teach” which includes letters from former students that helps me remember on a bad day, I still make a difference. If I can positively influence one student a day, or a week, or a year, then my “why” is fulfilled. That’s what it’s about for me. That is why I changed career paths.”
Emily teaches English Language Arts at Mortimer Jordan High School.
Treye Hanner: Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?
Emily Franklin: Throughout high school, several people asked me if I was going to be a teacher. I always admired and respected my coaches and teachers and truly had an amazing high school experience. I adamantly denied that I would become a teacher and was determined to be a Speech Pathologist.
Teaching roots run deep in my family. My maternal grandmother taught elementary school before WWII and then spent 10 years teaching at the Cerebral Palsy Center. My father’s mother taught elementary school for over two decades in Alabama. My paternal grandfather taught high school for over 30 years, split between Minor and Hueytown. My father Ben taught Criminal Justice classes at a local college part- time.
I got my undergraduate degree from UAB in Communication Management with a minor in Mass Communication (broadcasting/journalism). After working for a few years in the business world, I realized I lacked fulfillment. Then, I pursued a Master’s of Education in English Language Arts from The University of Montevallo.
I spent my early teaching years at Hueytown High School, then Gardendale High School. Now, I get the pleasure of working in the same community that I live in. This is my 5th year at Mortimer Jordan High School. I currently teach juniors and seniors. I love helping them prepare for college or a career after high school.
My husband Michael and I are high school sweethearts. We’ve been married for twelve years. We live in Kimberly with our two children, Sawyer and Mattie Grey. Our third blessing is expected to arrive in early October!
Treye Hanner: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Emily Franklin: I love how each day is different. Teaching high schoolers means you can never predict your entire day. I love seeing them complete difficult assignments and realize they are capable of thinking for themselves and staying off their cell phones for an hour and a half! I love the little safe haven we build in our classroom and genuinely miss students when they complete my class.
Plus, who doesn’t love homecoming dress up days, a Friday night football or baseball game, a packed gym for volleyball or basketball and working with some of the best people in the world?
Treye Hanner: Are there special moments where you say to yourself “this is why I teach?”
Emily Franklin: The students who give you the most difficult time are often the ones that later thank you for your investment in them. I keep a folder labeled “Why I Teach” which includes letters from former students that helps me remember on a bad day, I still make a difference. If I can positively influence one student a day, or a week, or a year, then my “why” is fulfilled. That’s what it’s about for me. That is why I changed career paths.
Treye Hanner: What challenges have you experienced while having to teach through the pandemic?
Emily Franklin: My husband and coworkers would not describe me as “tech savvy.” Learning how to flip my classroom was challenging but also seemed somewhat successful. Many of the technology aspects I used have carried over to my current classroom. The biggest challenge for me was losing rapport with students due to the lack of face-to-face instruction. I was just a “teacher” to them during the pandemic. In class, they know I am also a human! We can joke, be sarcastic, be real, share struggles, etc. Not having students feel like they know you definitely changes how much effort they are willing to put into the curriculum.
Treye Hanner: What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?
Emily Franklin: We consider your babies our babies! We want your child to succeed, and we have authentic happiness for students when they conquer a fear, receive a reward, or accomplish a difficult classroom task. It’s not solely about the smartest or most talented students; our goal is to influence all our students to make good choices, be respectful, be productive, and be considerate inside and outside of the classroom. We love our students! When people say we work 40 hours a week and get summers off, we giggle. Because, if you know, you know!