Q&A With Charles Franklin

Q: How should students refer to you at school?  
A: Students should refer to me as Mr. Franklin. Three of them just call me Dad. My three daughters are all looking forward to joining the Hackley community. My oldest, Connelly, is headed into sixth grade, Tate is entering fourth grade, and our youngest, Charlie, will be a first grader. 
Q: Where did you work before Hackley? 
A: I was the Assistant Head of School at Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland, prior to coming to Hackley. Before that, I worked at a K-12 day school in Baltimore, Maryland, and a 9-12 boarding school in Massachusetts. 
Q: Did you have another career before education?
A: When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, coach and advisor. It has been an amazing career for the past 22 years. 

Q: What is your educational background? 
A: I attended Amherst College for my undergraduate years, majoring in History. After teaching for a few years, I went back to get my master’s degree in Educational Leadership with a focus on Independent Schools from Johns Hopkins University. 

Q: What led you to choose education as a career? 
A: My mom was an elementary school librarian, so I suppose education may have always been an option in the back of my mind. I had the opportunity to attend an independent school for high school, and I immediately fell in love. I was inspired by my teachers, coaches and advisors to be a better student and teammate, and, most importantly, to try to be a better person. Being a part of an educational community where people cared about my success was such a powerful experience for me that I wanted to give back and serve as a role model for young people. 
Q: Did you have a favorite teacher who impacted your life?
A: There are too many to count, but I would say my high school baseball coach Peter Evans had a tremendous impact on me. He was also a teacher, college counselor, and administrator at my high school, and he was kind and gracious with everyone he interacted with. I try to bring that approach to everyone I meet. 
Q: Do you have a favorite memory from when you were a student?
A: My favorite memories are linked to traditions that have connected generations of students. I think it is meaningful to know that I have had some of the same experiences as previous and future students at my alma mater. As one example, prior to departing for winter break, we gathered for a celebratory meal in the dining hall and, at the end of it, we put our arms around the people next to us and sang Auld Lang Syne at the end of the evening. It wasn’t my favorite tradition my ninth grade year, but by the time I was a senior, it was incredibly powerful. 
Q: What was your favorite subject in school?
A: History. I love reading about the past and considering how it relates to our current society. There is much to learn from the discussions and debates of previous generations, and I am fascinated by the untold stories that are surfaced through historical research that add to our understanding of the world. As an added bonus, I love old maps! So, history was probably always going to be my favorite subject.  
Q: Which parts of running a school do you love most? 
A: I love the people. Being a school leader provides me with the opportunity to connect with students, faculty and staff, families, and alumni all within the same day. Getting to know community members provides tremendous insight into understanding a school’s culture, which is essential for successful leadership. I also love the complex challenges that come with leading a school and working with others to help create effective solutions. 
Q: Tell us about a day/encounter at Hackley so far that put a smile on your face.
A: When my family and I came to campus for the first time after I was named Head of School, my daughters were on their admissions visits and my youngest, Charlie, was with the kindergarten class. When I, my wife, and my two older daughters caught up with Charlie in the Lower School hallway, we asked her if she wanted to eat lunch with us or with her class. She looked at us, then looked at the members of the kindergarten class and replied, “I want to eat lunch with my friends!” and the line of kindergarteners cheered. It was such a perfect encapsulation of Hackley’s core value of Enter here to be and find a friend that I was sure I had made the right decision. 
Q: What are you most looking forward to in your first year as Hackley’s Head of School?
A: I am most looking forward to attending as many school events as I can. I want to visit classrooms in each division; attend musicals, recitals and sporting events; and connect with families and alumni. I want to listen, learn, observe and ask questions in order to better understand Hackley’s culture. 
Q: What do you do to recharge in your free time?
A: With three kids and a job I love, I don’t have much free time, but when I do, I recharge by reading, going for a bike ride, or watching any soccer match from the country of England. 
Q: What superpower/special quality do you bring to the School?
A: Optimism. I have a deep-seated belief that school should be a place of inspiration and joy for students. 
Q: Is there something in your office that has a special meaning for you?
A: Growing up in Connecticut, there were no professional sports teams in the state to root for other than the Hartford Whalers. As a result, I was a big fan in my middle and high school years until they left my senior year of high school. My friends and I would attend games, and in my office I have a puck with the Whalers logo on it, which reminds me of my childhood. 
Q: Do you play any musical instruments?
A: I played the trumpet in middle school and had a short-lived career. We were supposed to learn four or five songs in sixth grade, one of which was Brass Bonanza (the Hartford Whalers theme song—see above). I decided to only practice that one at the complete expense of the others, and so my musical career ended shortly after it began!
Q: Do you play any sports?
A: Athletics have played a large role in my life both as a child growing up and as a coach working at schools. I played three sports in high school (soccer, basketball, baseball) and two in college (soccer and golf), and have mainly coached soccer and basketball. I love to watch any level of English soccer and recently, my family and I have started watching a sport new to us, Kabaddi, which has been fun to learn.

Watch the Videos

In this video series created for social media, Mr. Franklin answers some questions from faculty, staff and students to help the Hackley Community get to know him.