Meet Hackley’s New Head of School


Credit: Hackley Communications Office

Mr. Franklin sat in on a 7th grade science class. Mr. Franklin really appreciated the sense of community he felt when visiting Hackley and meeting faculty and students. During Mr. Franklin’s first year at Hackley he hopes to immerse himself in all there is to know about Hackley. Sitting in on different classes is a great first step to accomplish this.

“For the two days I was at Hackley, the number of people I met who wanted to convince me to want to work at Hackley or share their love for Hackley with me really made an impact,” said Charles Franklin, Hackley’s next Head of School.

Mr. Franklin sat down with The Dial on a recent visit to the Hilltop, a first step in joining the Hackley community. 

Credit: Hackley Communications Office
Junior, Maura McGlarry interviews the new Head of School, Charles Franklin. Through this interview, Maura learned a lot about both Mr. Franklin as a person and a lot about his goals and ambitions for Hackley. Mr. Franklin said that he is very excited to be living and working on the Hilltop.

“I am humbled and excited to be in this role. I look forward to playing a part in helping each student feel a sense of connection, inspiration, and ownership of their experience at Hackley in a positive way,” Mr. Franklin said.  

After six years on the Hilltop, Michael Wirtz will be leaving Hackley at the conclusion of this school year. Mr. Franklin will begin his leadership in July. 

Mr. Franklin started working in education due to his love for teaching others and being in a community. By working in schools, Mr. Franklin encountered groups of people that he feels connected with. Additionally, he felt a sense of community and togetherness while working in the education sector. “Working with kids keeps you young, energized, and on your toes,” Mr. Franklin said. 

Mr. Franklin got into teaching because of the teachers that he had in high school. 

“They [his high school teachers] were transformative for me,” he said, “They inspired me, believed in me, and pushed me to do things I didn’t know that I was capable of doing.” 

After graduating college, when Mr. Franklin was looking for what he wanted to do, he knew that he wanted to be the person his high school teachers were for him for young people. 

Mr. Franklin has always had a passion and interest in reading and books. His mom was an elementary school librarian for 30 years, so Mr. Franklin grew up in a house where books were prevalent. Every opportunity his mom gets, she sends Mr. Franklin a book for birthdays, Christmases, etc. 

Mr. Franklin has three daughters Connelly (11), Tate (9), and Charlie (6); a lot of his free time is spent with them either by coaching their sports teams, going on hikes with them, or taking them to museums.  

When discussing what drew him to Hackley, Mr. Franklin emphasized the sense of community he saw at Hackley. At the schools he has been at, the thing he has valued the most are the people in the community. Mr. Franklin sensed a connection between teachers and classmates when he visited Hackley. 

“When looking at Hackley, what came through loud and clear, every step of the way, was that Hackley is a place where relationships matter, where who you are is more important than your test scores or where you go to college,” Mr. Franklin said. 

He felt like Hackley was a place that valued helping young people become the best version of themselves, and that is what resonated with him. He described that he fell in love with Hackley just from the description, and when he visited Hackley, that made him love it even more. 

“What is most important is making sure to carve out time to connect with students,” Mr. Franklin said. 

Coming to Hackley will be the first year Mr. Franklin will not have taught or coached in a school. He expressed that he will miss that as he loves the 50 minutes he gets to spend teaching students in his senior electives class or coaching 8th-grade soccer. 

“I love having those one-on-one connections,” Mr. Franklin said. He said that it is important for a head of school to be intentional in creating times to meet with students. He described that these times can be both informal and formal. In terms of informal connections, some ways in which these could be facilitated is Mr. Franklin being at lower and middle school drop off or going to upper school lunch. 

“My goal is to get to know as many students and their stories as possible,” said Mr. Franklin. In the more formal sense, Mr. Franklin said that he strives to set up dedicated times for meetings and conversation. “If my door is open, I want there to be a norm where students can come in and talk to me. I want students to feel like the head of school knows who I am and knows a little bit about me.” 

Mr. Franklin’s main goal for his first year at Hackley is to get to know the people and the school. “It is hard to be an effective leader if I don’t have a deep-seated understanding of who Hackley is, where it has been, and where it wants to head,” said Mr. Franklin. 

He also said that the way to accomplish this goal is by having conversations. He used the example of the questions he asked me when we met. He asked me questions like, “What grade are you in? How is the junior year workload? What is it like working on the Dial, etc.” By doing this, Mr. Franklin described that now we know a little bit about each other, and the next time we have a conversation, he can ask more questions to further our teacher-student relationship. 

Credit: Hackley Communications Office
Mr. Franklin visited a 9th-grade art class. During his visit, he saw a variety of classes in order to get accustomed to the place where he will be living and working. Meeting and making an effort to have conversations with students is one of the ways in which Mr. Franklin wants to make connections with students.

“Conversations build relationships, and once I am able to have these relationships with all members of the Hackley community teachers, students, parents, then you can start to think about where to head from there,” Mr. Franklin said. 

Mr. Franklin acknowledged how tremendous a school Hackley is. He said that he knows it is one of the best schools around. However, he also noted that everything can always improve and has room for improvement. Mr. Franklin said he needs to learn what areas Hackley needs to improve. He said that he wants to learn from students, faculty, and alumni. Once he understands what they think Hackley could improve upon, he would like to get students together to figure out a plan to improve the said aspect of Hackley that works on both the administrative side and for student wellbeing. 

Regarding long-term goals, Mr. Franklin has nothing set in mind as he believes that change should be fluid and depend on the circumstances at hand. Mr. Franklin described that if he were to come into Hackley and said this is exactly what needs to be changed, there is a chance that students would think that this change is unnecessary. “It is the process of learning the community that influences what change should be made,” said Mr. Franklin. 

Mr. Franklin generally thinks that school should be a place of inspiration, joy, and growth. However, he acknowledged that it isn’t always so joyful when someone has four hours of homework, and it’s a rainy day in November. There will always be work, but he described that he strives to find things that help inspire and engage the Hackley community. He wants Hackley to be an environment where students can grow, have new opportunities, and try new things. 

Along with himself, Mr. Franklin is bringing his whole family to attend and live at Hackley. He acknowledged that it is a big transition for him and his family, both professionally and personally. However, he described that he is excited for his kids to be on campus and get to know their classmates, teachers, and other residents to build their sense of community. “Down the line, they will have their own story at Hackley. I will live and work at Hackley, but I look forward to my kids having their own experiences, friends, and connections at Hackley.” 

“I am most excited to get to know the culture of Hackley.” Mr. Franklin said that he has been at three different schools throughout his 22 years of working in education. Each school he described was great, yet each had a unique culture. “I feel like I have a sense of what that is at Hackley, but you never know until you live it.” Mr. Franklin said that by being in the hallways, attending assemblies, and seeing spirit days, you get a sense of what makes Hackley so unique for the students at Hackley. 

“I strive to be as present and involved in school life as possible so I can get a sense of what makes Hackley such a special place,” he said.