While some people after the age of 60 are looking forward to retirement, Tom Franklin is looking forward to helping children learn.
Tom grew up in Sunnyslope with his seven siblings. After his retirement from teaching in 2012, he moved back to Sunnyslope with a desire to give back something to the community where he was born. When his wife, Cindy, began working part time in 2013, the couple made good on a plan to start a free public charter school in the 85020 zip code.
In 1996 they founded Franklin Phonetic School, one of the most successful charter schools in the state, located in Prescott Valley. The school has received Title 1 excellence awards and was given federal Blue Ribbon designation in 2011. After Cindy’s semi-retirement, they knew it was time to take that success and bring it back to Tom’s roots in the North Central Phoenix area.
“This campus is everything that we dreamed about.”But finding a site for the school was especially challenging. The Franklins wanted a location close to social services, and within easy access to public transportation. After several sites that were initially planned and later abandoned, they found what they consider to be the perfect school campus on the grounds of Sunnyslope Presbyterian Church, 9317 N. 2nd St.
“This campus is everything that we dreamed about,” Cindy said, explaining that the location is safe and convenient, the building is securely fenced, landscaping is mature and the playground has a variety of play structures.
In addition to the education building, students will be able to use other facilities on the church campus for their art, music, drama, Spanish and computer classes. “There is even an assembly room for group meetings, a physical education area and a nice lunch room,” Cindy said.
The school plans to offer a free lunch and breakfast program, as well as expanded free after school programs, made possible through a grant. The school is able to use the proven curriculum developed on the Prescott campus, which consists of a series of songs, stories and cut-and-paste activities that teach children 72 phonogram combinations and 32 spelling rules that allow children to decode over 80 percent of words in the English language.
Tom and Cindy have almost 60 years of combined teaching experience. Cindy holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology, along with reading specialist, art, music, special education and elementary certifications.
Reading proficiency is strongly emphasized at Franklin Phonetic School, as it is the foundational skill upon which many other academic competencies are built. The school strives to insure that all children meet and surpass prescribed grade level expectations.
Enrollment is open for kindergarten, first and second grades and, based on demand, potentially third grade as well. School is scheduled to open on Aug. 18. For more information, call 602-944-1371 or visit www.franklinphoneticschoolsunnyslope.com.