This is a guest post by Brian Henris in support for Franklin Burns for the QuickSchools Teacher of the Year award. QuickSchools is a fully-online school management system.
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
This statement captures the essence of Franklin Burns, a man with the vision, passion and talent to start his own school, The Saint Tower Academy, dedicated to the betterment of special needs students. Drawing from his own personal experiences, Franklin was able to create an environment where children with special needs could receive the individual attention they need in which to achieve their maximum potential. This was not accomplished without an extreme measure of self- sacrifice as is generally required when a bold vision is set in motion. Through a diligent work ethic and by taking very little in the way of compensation, Franklin was able to establish his goal of creating his school dedicated to educating students who need additional modifications or accommodations to be successful in the classroom.
Seeing a need for change when his school district altered their placement for students in the self-contained classroom (life skills and adaptive behavior) in which Franklin worked forced him into action. One disturbing change was the use of paraprofessionals rather than certified special education teachers in the classroom. Additionally, emphasis on TAKS testing was having a negative effect on special needs students receiving proper classroom instruction and drawing access to needed resources. Rather than simply accepting a continued deterioration in the classroom environment, Franklin made a choice to strike out on his own. As a result, in conjunction with a local church, The Saint Thomas Academy was established.
Today, The Saint Tower Academy is the academic home to seven special needs students who now receive the attention and proper education geared toward producing success in life. In Franklin’s words, “I chose to change education by creating a school for students with special needs. Saint Tower Academy accesses the learning modalities of the student and creates an academic program for the student.” Franklin’s tireless dedication to the betterment of others is worthy not only of nomination, but of securing the title of “Teacher of the Year.” The spirit of the entrepreneur, as well as the relentless drive of Roosevelt, resides within the mind and heart of Franklin Burns.