The Teacher

Elizabeth Watson, Writer

I first met Mrs. Franklin near the end of my junior year. I was having issues coping with my mental health and going to virtual learning, and because of that I had a lot of missing assignments. When I first saw Mrs. Franklin, she met me with a smile, gave me a hug, and told me she would help me get through this. 

Mrs. Franklin grew up in Australia and in an environment where her mother, father, aunts, and cousins were all educators. “From a really early young age. You know of course my parents both been teachers. The subject growing up in the dinner table always involved the success and sometimes the failures of students. I would see the happiness when they shared when they talked about students’ success. I wanted that feeling, so it was a natural career choice for me.” Mrs. Franklin would go to college to get a master’s degree in education and then a bachelor’s degree in social work. 

Mrs. Franklin believes that her degree in social work has helped her immensely with understanding her students. She worked with special education students when she was working full time. “Which greatly assisted in working, I spent most of my career with special ed students. Having the degree in social work helped me understand the struggles the special ed students have in a normal school environment. It is totally different for them than it is for you and I.” She still works with some special education students in her volunteer work with Mansfield Christian School. Her background in social work has helped her understand the difference of understanding of a student situation outside of school coming in to affect the students’ work effort. 

Mrs. Franklin moved to the United States quite simply because of love. She already retired from teaching and worked for twenty plus years, and then moved to the United States to be with her husband. A church member suggested that Mrs. Franklin should work at her church member’s son’s school. She agreed to it, and did not personally like the learning structure of that school. Then, with that same church member, she visited the church member’s relative who was in a nursing home. At the nursing home the church member introduced Mrs. Franklin to the director of the nursing home. Through conversing with the director she found out that the nursing home needed a social worker, and she was offered the position. For the next eleven years she worked in the dementia ward of the nursing home, until she moved to Mansfield, Ohio with her husband. “There’s a great similarity between eldery people with dementia and students. Believe it or not. It is sort of like, you know because of their dementia they forget things, so it’s almost like reteaching again what they have learned but, you know due to their medical condition, they have forgotten. So you are actually teaching, supporting, and assisting them with trying to remember things that they may have forgotten. Which is just like students who sometimes forget the basics and you need to remind them of the basics so that they can get on what they are doing and learning.”

Even though Mrs. Franklin loves her work, it doesn’t come without its challenges. During her work in the dementia ward she says: “Seeing residents not recognize their loved ones, not knowing their husband, not knowing their daughters, not knowing where they are, why they are there, and their feeling of abandonment of their families. That was the hardest part.” Then during her years of teaching, and a volunteer tutor she says: “The hardest part of being a teacher I suppose is because with special ed I guess would be the challenge that you face daily, the heartbreak when students fail. It makes you feel you have failed that student, that is the biggest challenge.”, 

John Bunyan once said, “You haven’t lived today until you have done something worthwhile for someone who you know can never repay you.” Mrs. Franklin believes the ideal of the words of Bunyan and strives to live by them. Although the times as a teacher and in working in the nursing home were difficult, she believes that her faith helped her overcome the difficulties in the work. “I think my faith probably had a lot to do with it. I prayed a lot. I cried a lot. Don’t think any of my students never knew that I was struggling.” Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”  This verse that has helped Mrs. Franklin deal with the hardships of her work, and to see the main goal of helping people in need. 

Mrs. Franklin did help me. I was able to finish my work and pass Junior year. I went on with summer break. I do not think I would not have been able to get through it without Mrs. Franklin’s help. “I have always wanted to help people. I actually started volunteering in my first year of high school. I delivered flowers to people in the local hospital. I then as I got older I played the piano and sang for residents in a nursing home. So I have always had that I need to do something for someone else’s attitude.That will never change. As long as God willingly I have the strength and capabilities and the ability to do what I am doing I will keep on doing it.”

 

Works Cited

Franklin, Sherly. Elizabeth Watson. Personal Interview. March 1, 2021.