The catchphrase most often heard from Sarah Franko is short and to the point: “What’s best for the kids.” That simple mantra powers Franko’s drive toward educational leadership, classroom innovation, and community involvement on behalf of the fifth-grade science students at North Royalton Middle School.
The first year that Franko taught fifth-grade science, the fifth grade science scores jumped from 76% to 86%, a step in the right direction. Using inquiry-based instruction to engage students in a myriad of science topics, she creates flexible grouping based on student mastery of content and builds in opportunities for students to achieve learning goals. Formative and summative assessments are key to Franko’s instructional method, and she regularly uses pretests and posttests to map her students’ academic growth. She also uses reassessments to allow each child to meet his/her highest level of success. Franko also developed an online virtual space, through Moodle, to bring parents and students closer to their child’s content standards, school resources and activities.
For Franko, part of the responsibility of teaching science is to imbue the next generation with a sense of environmental stewardship. To that end she co-led the student Green Team and headed a school-wide initiative that raised over $4,000 to benefit H2O for Life, an organization that engages youth to act on behalf of the global water crisis.
At the end of each year Franko enjoys stepping out of the classroom to attend the fifth grade Field Day competitions, rallying the athletes and instilling team spirit. This may not sound like a science teacher, but colleagues have noted that her gusto for Field Day is representative of her zeal for the day-to-day challenges of being an educator. She is noted for exuding positive energy and embracing positive change.
A mentor of young teachers, Franko is a member of the Resident Educator committee, planning the program for new teachers. She has developed common assessments for the department, served on the Curriculum Assessment and Instruction Committee, and is a three-time presenter at the Ohio Middle Level Association (OMLA) State Conference. She obtained the Master teacher designation in 2013 and appreciated the opportunities it gave her to deeply reflect on best practices and student achievement. Franko’s efforts stay with her students as they continue to secondary school where seniors often note her positive influence in their high school exit interviews. In the summer of 2015, Franko accepted the opportunity to become a Milken Fellow. Not only did it secure contact and connections with incredible educators from around the globe, but participating in the Unsung Hero project will be impactful for her students. One person can make a difference!!!