Teacher honored for years of service

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Reported by: MirandaChristian
Updated: 10/05/2012 9:41 pm Published: 10/03/2012 8:56 pm

No one has left a mark on Haskell Public Schools quite like Sylvester Franklin has.

“He's kind of like Mr. Haskell,” said Haskell teacher, Mark Blan. “His name has been here longer than most of us."

Sylvester Franklin, soon to be 88 years old, has been answering students' questions for 62 years. A couple things have changed since he started: computers have replaced notebooks.

"I'm not computer literate yet, but I work on it,” said Franklin.

Now, the students he teaches look a bit different.

"I’ve had classes that had no blacks at all," said Franklin.

Mr. Franklin, or “Prof,” short for professor as some call him, got his start in teaching way back in 1950 at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa. Schools were still segregated back then.

In time, that changed. But for Franklin, one thing always remained the same: the classroom.

It kept him smiling. Prof just couldn't get enough of it.

"I was here 28 years before I ever missed a day,” said Franklin.

He’s only missed two days in 62 years.

"I retired in '86," said Franklin.

Now, he teaches part time, but his devotion to young people has always been a full time gig.

“I just love teaching,” said Franklin.

It's true, no matter the subject. Right now he's teaching sixth graders math, but this collection of boxes sitting against the wall in his classroom are his proudest achievement. They're filled with notes, tests and a second chance: Prof ran Haskell’s GED program for 30 years.

"I've had a lot of students get their GED,” said Franklin.

Even today, Franklin’s job is full of rewards.

"Sit down with him, have him talk to you and you're going to walk out of there a better person," said Haskell teacher Greg Wilson.

Wilson was one of Franklin’s students. If you ask him he’s still learning from Franklin.

"He could put on seminars for life skills,” said Wilson.

"I had Mr. Franklin for 9th grade science," said Haskell teacher Mark Blan. "I just love to pick his brain."

He always knows exactly what to say. Franklin's years of experience recently landed him in the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame.

"I was just so humbled,” said Franklin. “I just thought back all the years that I’ve been teaching. I've been teaching grandkids of some of my students."

Franklin will be the first to tell you he didn't get into teaching for awards or money, but to see his students succeed is payback for him.

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