Monday, November 20, 2006


Mr. Franko (Phil) was the health teacher at Washington High School. He started teaching there in the 1987-1988 school year - my junior year.

Franko had an "all American boy" look. I believe he hailed from Canada actually. Prior to getting into teaching, Franko played minor league baseball in the MInnesota Twins' organization. In fact, I remember him telling us a nasty story of how one of his teammates slid into second base, and somehow snapped his leg. Franko said the bone had actually punctured the skin, and was sticking straight up. I remember Richard Wheeeler laughed, and pretending he was a doctor at the scene, said, "Yep, it's broke all right."

When the class first started, Franko didn't have his own room. So the school shuffled him around from one room to another each class period. I think my class was originally on the first floor, in Mrs. Pohlman's room. But after several weeks, Franko found a permanent home up on the third floor, in a room above the library.

Franko was a decent guy. He seemed to get along with the students for the most part. I kind of figured him to be a bit of a pushover, based on his recent arrival. But he wasn't. He was pretty good at maintaining control and keeping everyone in line. He and I did get into a situation once though.

I had health class during 4th hour. The class had lunch B - which meant that the class was interrupted by our lunch break. Well one day after lunch, I was sort of milling around in the back of the room, as people began filing into their seats. Then the bell rang. I immediately began to walk back to my seat, when Franko said, "Burt, go to the office and get a detention." I didn't understand what he was talking about. So I argued with him. I kept insisting that I wasn't late - which I wasn't. I was in class. But he was mad that I hadn't taken my seat prior to the bell ringing. Whatever the case was, he forced me to leave. I was pissed. There was no way I was going to get a detention over this.

I didn't go to the office. Instead, I wandered around the hallways for about 10 minutes. I thought about leaving and walking home. But that made little sense. (Although five years earlier, with Mrs. Casey, it made sense to me). Finally I decided on an "adult" solution. So I walked back up to Franko's class. The door was closed, and he was teaching. I just knocked on the door. Franko sent Randy Klein to answer it. Randy came out and seemed somewhat confused. (NOTE: If you read my entry on Randy, you'll see that he informed me that during lunch that year, he smoked pot nearly everyday. So Randy being confused is not unusual). Anyway, I told him to send Franko in the hall. Franko came out. And I apologized to him. He was under the impression that I was "showing him up" by not taking my seat right away. But in all honesty, I was doing no such thing. He accepted my apology, and let me back in the room. Is avoiding a detention worth an apology? You bet! Later on, Richard chided me for apologizing to him. But hey, staying after school sucked.

One day Franko brought a guest to class. He was a local cop. We were learning about drugs. So the cop brought along his display case full of narcotics. He even had some marijuana - which he promptly lit, so we could smell it. I remember Jenny Malley catching a wiff of it, and getting a repulsed look on her face. I also remember Randy Klein smelling it and saying, "Yep, that smells familiar."

I never did too well in health class. I think I scraped by with C's and D's. But I passed. That was the most important thing.

Something tells me Franko coached tennis. But I might be wrong about that. He may have also helped out with football and softball.

I ran into Franko a couple of times at the video store. I don't think he recalled who I was.

In 2002, some Green Bay area educators received certification in the Institute for Learning Partnership's Professional Development Certificate (PDC) program. I'm not sure what that means. But it looks like it's a big deal. Anyway, Mr. Franko was certified.

Today Franko is still teaching health at the high school. I believe he and his wife have had three kids. As far as I know, he still lives in Two Rivers.


At Mon Nov 20, 10:40:00 AM PST, Blogger Brad Strouf said...

Yes, Mr. Franko did indeed coach tennis...at least he tried. I, for one, was not the most accepting or supporting of his role. He was, however, a decent coach and I was a "pain in the ass" teenager. But anyway, Phil was/is a good and decent guy, I had him for health class as well and thought he was a pretty good teacher.

At Mon Nov 20, 06:44:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

I thought Mr. Franko was a very good teacher. Particularly for a rookie. That year, for some reason, everybody seemed to hate him. I could never understand why. I thought he did a good job teaching the class, which, let's face it, who wants to teach sex ed and "peer pressure" to a bunch of horny punk teenagers? Honestly, I was a little disappointed that so many of our classmates gave him a hard time. It seemed out-of-character -- most of the class 89 were, as I said, quite decent people. But whatever.

At the end of the year, I gave him a card. I don't remember what it said, but I think I wrote something encouraging in it. Years later, another teacher told me that he really appreciated it. That was nice.

I understand that Mr. Franko is well-respected by students and teachers today.

Afterthought: In middle school as well as high school, I always thought "health class" was boring and trite, even though Phil and Mrs. Anderson were decent teachers. But you know -- when you hit 30 and body parts start malfunctioning, certain things I learned then become surprisingly pertinent. I kinda wish I still had my notes.

At Tue Nov 21, 08:26:00 AM PST, Blogger Brad Strouf said...

Greg is impotent????????

At Tue Nov 21, 08:42:00 AM PST, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

If I actually took notes, I'd still have them. So you could borrow them from me. However, if I had actually taken notes, more than likely they would have been filled with some sort of vile poetry, as opposed to actual class-related material. So at that point, you probably wouldn't have been interested in them.

I hope that helps.

At Wed Nov 22, 06:32:00 PM PST, Blogger Greg Pagel said...

Brad -- you never noticed?


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