Paula Franklin of West High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, serves breakfast to her students on the morning of the AP Government exam. She also handwrites each one a note of encouragement, and it seems to work. Eighty-two percent of her students pass with an average score of 3.59, which far exceeds the national average of 50 percent and a 2.65 score. What’s more, enrollment in her challenging course has doubled since she took over the class.
Franklin sets high expectations and prompts her students to learn in their own way, delivering the necessary preparation tools that propel them to succeed. She incorporates instructional practices such as simulations, cooperative learning projects and writing assignments that develop a historical basis as well as critical analysis of American democracy. Her classroom is a trusted environment which encourages fairness for all opinions to be freely expressed during peer instruction activities and seminar-style discussions. She also demands her students develop action plans and goals for the future that will direct their college and career focus.
As a member of the school’s leadership and instructional focus teams, Franklin participates in weekly data-driven sessions with teachers of all content areas concerning student progress, celebrations and interventions, and often writes and revises school curriculum. Recently becoming sophomore class dean, Franklin helps determine student pathways at the end of the year, tracks their needs and arranges teacher recommendations. She also played a critical role in launching the high school’s new International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP), in conjunction with its partner middle school, to support academic and personal growth for students in the sixth through tenth grades.
Franklin has a knack for teaching others how to teach well. She leads professional development sessions for government teachers throughout Knox County and mentors new teachers. Beyond academics, Franklin is visible around campus, supporting students’ extracurricular activities especially as the prom adviser and cheerleading coach.
Franklin is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science with minors in history and secondary education in 2010, and a Master of Science in teacher education (secondary teaching) in 2011.
Press release: Knoxville teacher wins $25,000 Milken Educator Award
"I hope [my students] remember the government curriculum and projects we did together, and that they become involved citizens. But..." (read more)