Position: First Grade Teacher / After School Program Founder
School: Kate Bell Elementary School
School District: Houston Independent School District
City, State: Houston, TX
Music that Describes Wanda
Wanda Franklin was nominated by Marlon Johnson, a member of her community.
Mrs. Franklin has been an educator and an inspiration at Kate Bell Elementary School in Houston, TX for 34 years. She has worked in all parts of the school as a magnet coordinator, second and fourth grade teacher, and now as a first grade teacher.
One of her biggest accomplishments while serving as the magnet coordinator was starting Camp Cougar. Camp Cougar is a self-sufficient after-school program founded 15 years ago by Mrs. Franklin. The after-school program provides tutoring and a wide variety of outdoor activities which include fishing, forestry, gymnastics, and many more after-school activities. When Mrs. Franklin was asked what inspired her to start Camp Cougar, she said it was more of a need to her school.
"We had parents who needed a childcare service because they could not pick up their children after their Magnet Afterschool Activities," said Franklin. This was also a great way to make sure their children were in a familiar environment with their own peers. This gave our teachers and coaches extra time to work with the students.”
Camp Cougar was initially funded on grants, and it was in danger of being discontinued because of a lack of funding. Mrs. Franklin single-handedly designed an affordable tuition plan for parents to keep the program going. Camp Cougar still uses this model and is now self-sufficient with no outside funding. Mrs. Franklin did not accomplish the success of Camp Cougar on her own. There was never a problem finding teachers who wanted to take part and who brought talent to the program. Camp Cougar strives for excellence in academic and physical achievements.
“We can only serve the ones who come and provide them with activities and knowledge that will help them throughout their lives,” Franklin stated. “The legacy I hope to leave is that the program continues to provide students with enrichment activities that will promote growth and continued success in their life and academic progress.”
Former Camp Cougar alumni have been lawyers, doctors, track and field competitors, authors, dancers, models, and entrepreneurs, to name a few. For the future of Camp Cougar, Mrs. Franklin would like the program to continue for the success of their students. She hopes they will find donors to provide a gymnasium for the school, and for the students to help with all the different activities that the program provides. The school and the program transform the cafeteria area into a makeshift gymnasium.
Mrs. Franklin and her husband, Willard, have also founded an award-winning Four W’s Fishing Team. As a world-class fishing team, Four W’s gives back to the community. They promote the outdoors and outdoor activities through saltwater fishing and specialize in diversity, inclusion, conservation, and careers. She is also a breast cancer survivor. Her Four W’s Fishing Team takes part every October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) in Fishing for The Cure, a tournament that raises money to find a cure for breast cancer. They also take terminal breast cancer patients on free deep-sea fishing trips in the Gulf of Mexico as a last wish.
"Wanda Franklin is a groundbreaker, survivor, and a LifeChanger," said Johnson. "She has done so much in her lifetime and continues to help change the lives of those in her community. Nothing will stop her from achieving the goals she has for her students."