Haskell Educator Starts 59th Year Of Teaching

Wednesday, August 12th 2009, 4:35 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

HASKELL, OK -- 59 years at one job is inspiring, but 59 years teaching math and science to middle school students is impressive.

That's the case for Sylvester Franklin, whose career started shortly after World War II came to an end.  The only place he has ever taught is in Haskell, in Muskogee County.

A bustling hallway marks the start of a new school year in Haskell.

"Well I'm so glad you all are here this morning," said Sylvester Franklin.

"Make sure you're ready for class, that's the main thing."

Franklin is starting his 59th year as a school teacher in Haskell. This year it's math to sixth graders.

"Mainly I stayed here all those years because I didn't have any particular reason to leave," said Franklin.

Now 84-years-old, Mr. Franklin started teaching shortly after fighting in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

He spent 16 years at Haskell's all-black school before desegregation.

Since 1967, he has taught thousands of Haskell students the ins and outs of math and science.

"I try to teach them responsibility, self respect, respect for others, those are the main things. I try to teach them just a Christian way of life," said Franklin.

It's hard not to find someone whose life was touched by Mr. Franklin. Matt Stephen's mom and dad and Blake Wells' grandmother were once Franklin's students.

"He was raised right, he likes to teach, he does his thing, he's a good leader," said Blake Wells, a Haskell student.

Love for Mr. Franklin is nearly everywhere in Haskell. Across the street from the school where he teaches, the Franklin Events Center was named after him when it was built in 2002.

"I just can't express how much that means to me," said Franklin.

These days Mr. Franklin only teaches a few hours a day, but it's time he loves and time he hopes to never give up.

"As long as I feel good, I have nothing else that I aspire to do except to be with young people and teach," said Franklin.

Mr. Franklin also teaches the GED classes, helping adults get their high school diploma.

If nearly six decades on the job isn't impressive, Mr. Franklin has only missed two days of classes in that entire time.