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Bonnie D. Franklin, Teacher Education Scholarship Winner,
Fall I, 2010

Dominican University, in partnership with Bisk Education, Inc., is proud to recognize Bonnie D. Franklin – an academic intervention facilitator at Phillip O’Brien Elementary School in Lakeland, Florida – as one of five winners of the Bisk Foundation Teacher Education Scholarship for the Fall I, 2010 session. The scholarship supports the ongoing professional development of teachers who are making a difference in others’ lives.

Admired by her peers and pupils alike, Franklin is dedicated to helping her students achieve literacy and putting them on the path to lifelong learning. To that end, she is committed to providing a learning environment that will maximize their potential for success.

Franklin, who is enrolled in Dominican University’s online Master of Arts in Education program with a concentration in Reading, recently shared her experiences with helping children improve their reading skills. She also expressed her appreciation for the scholarship, which supports her continuing efforts “to make a difference in the lives of individual students, the student body as a whole and teachers in our county” through superior reading instruction.

By teaching reading intervention classes, Franklin is truly making a difference in the lives of her Philip O’Brien Elementary school students – bringing the joy of reading to those who had previously struggled with it.

Her secret? “By finding the key to each student’s learning style, I help them improve their reading level,” said Franklin. “For example, a fifth-grade student who read on a second-grade level for fluency, comprehension and vocabulary recently read her very first book after I matched her with an interesting story that was on par with her ability level.”

This process has helped many students, including another fifth-grader who had never read a sentence before. “I matched him with a book that helped him learn to blend letter sounds into words. With practice, he was able to read sentences and paragraphs – and seeing him smile after reading successfully was pure joy,” declared Franklin.

She also uses technology to enhance her teaching. “I design PowerPoint presentations to help students learn high-frequency words they need to know to meet grade-level standards,” Franklin explained. For primary grades, she designed circus-themed lessons. “Children spend three minutes a day saying their ‘circus words.’ I also created ‘sound parade’ charts that teachers can use with interactive whiteboards to review phonics sounds with their students. And I provide printable books for at-risk students to practice reading at home. Many read them to younger siblings, too.”

When asked about other innovations she introduced to Philip O’Brien Elementary School, Franklin cited the Junior Literacy Team, a group of fourth- and fifth-grade students that are working on their reading fluency. “Each morning, the team members practice their ‘circus words’ with a reading buddy. Some of them read aloud to kindergarteners before the school day begins. They also wheel around a red cart containing books I’ve gathered from yard sales, bringing them to a communal area where students can read before school.”

The results are impressive. “The Literacy Team members who practiced reading with younger students saw their own fluency scores soar – along with their self-confidence,” Franklin proudly shared.

Another of her accomplishments occurred outside the classroom. “Along with two colleagues, I helped make a difference in literacy for Polk County by starting a local International Reading Association chapter. We began with three members, and now have over 300. In addition to promoting literacy, it also helps teachers with professional development.”

She continued, “The Bisk Foundation Teacher Education Scholarship will allow me to keep making a difference for literacy in our county by aiding in my quest to learn more about literacy, ultimately benefitting both students and my fellow teachers alike.”

The dedicated faculty and staff of Philip O’Brien Elementary School have made it their mission to ensure that all learners have the tools necessary to realize their highest level of academic excellence. To that end, a colleague noted that Franklin “works diligently to strengthen the reading program at Philip O’Brien Elementary. She provides ongoing professional development to other teachers and paraeducators, helping them better serve the needs of their students. She is extremely dedicated to the students, and the results are evidenced in enhanced performance.”

Together with Dominican University, Bisk Education is proud to salute Bonnie Franklin – a true everyday hero who is making a difference through the gift of education!