One of the state and nation’s top leaders in education was inducted into the Alabama Educational Leadership Hall of Fame today [Thursday, Nov. 15] at the Hall’s home in Hawkins Hall at Troy University.
Dr. Earl Franks, a Tifton, Ga. native and TROY alumnus, currently is executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, a professional organization serving elementary and middle school principals and other education leaders throughout the United States, Canada and overseas based in Alexandria, Va.
“Earl is a true ‘Trojan.’ His roots go deep here at TROY, but he has served well at all levels of education – locally, on a statewide basis and nationally,” said TROY Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., who said leadership was essential in the preservation of democracy. “We are so proud of the example Earl has set, not only as an alumnus but also as a leader in state and national education.”
As part of his national position, he represents pre-K – 8 principals on the Board of Directors of the Learning First Alliance, the National Policy Board for Educational Administration and as a member of multiple national educational organizations and coalitions.
Prior to his selection as the NAESP executive director, he served as executive director of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS), Alabama’s leading umbrella organization for principals and school administrators. In his nine years at the helm of CLAS, Franks was the driving force behind the organization’s innovation and growth. The group achieved record membership levels eight out of nine years. With a target of continuous professional development for its members and a focus on fostering innovation, Franks pioneered the groundbreaking Certified Instructional Leader (CIL) program, which offers an advanced credential to principals and other school/district leaders.
“I am honored and humbled to be standing here today among the true educational visionaries of the local, state and national levels,” Franks said. “There are many educators more deserving of this honor than I.”
Franks went on to credit a number educators and mentors who had profoundly impacted his life and who taught him life skills that equipped him for success.
“Any successes I have are attributable to the people who have helped me in my life,” he said.
Prior to serving as CLAS executive director, he served as a leader on the CLAS Board of Directors; before that, he developed broad experience in public education by working with the school system from top to bottom, and in all grades. Franks served as a principal from 1999 until 2008 at Luverne School, a pre-K-through-12 school serving 1,000+ students. Prior to that, he earned a glowing reputation as an award-winning band director.
Gail Morgan, associate executive director for professional learning at the National Association of Elementary School Principals, delivered the ceremony’s keynote address covering topics ranging from workforce development to education as a passion for educators before introducing Franks.
“You can’t fool kids,” she said, “it is obvious if someone does something because of passion or a paycheck. “Passion drives people to excel despite the hurdles along the way.”
“If we are truly passionate (about education), we adapt to the needs of every student; if we are passionate, we will not accept the status quo and we will do what we can with what we have,” she said. “We must use our passion as we persevere and do our best … Earl Franks is an example of what passion can accomplish.”
Franks is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow with Major Donor distinction from Rotary International and has received leadership awards from the Alabama Music Educators Association, Troy University Music Department, as well as the prestigious Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential from the CAE Commission of ASAE, the Center for Association Leadership.
Franks received his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He received his Master of Science in Education, Bachelor of Music Education, and Educational Specialist degrees from Troy University in Troy.
Since its inception in 1982, only 44 educators have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, a cooperative effort of Troy University, the Alabama Association of School Boards and the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools to recognize and honor the achievements of outstanding leaders in education within the state. That first induction ceremony was held in April 1984. Portraits of the inductees are displayed in Hawkins Hall, home to Troy University’s College of Education. Dr. Vic Wilson, executive director of the Council, formally inducted his predecessor into the Hall of Honor.