A second grade classroom can be a restless place. That’s something Jeff Frank knows well.
“I wish I would’ve done it ten years ago,” Frank says, referring to the acoustic guitar he purchased for his classroom thanks to Innovation Grant funds from the Beulah Education Foundation.
“It’s just that break,” he says. “It gets them up and gets them moving — and then alright, now let’s re-focus and get back to what we were working on.”
Frank integrates it into his lesson plans, too.
“Sometimes we have these silly sentences,” explains Hank Wanner, a Beulah second grader. “Mr. Frank grabs his guitar, and we have one or two sentences we sing. They’re pretty fun.”
“It kind of makes it easier to learn and remember stuff,” says Jemma Roberson-Kitzman, another Beulah second grader.
Mr. Frank doesn’t claim to be a virtuoso. He first picked up the guitar when he learned a few chords in high school. “I’m sure my parents, it drove them nuts, because it was pretty awful,” he laughs.
And he recalls a particularly embarrassing performance of “Kumbaya” in church. “Someone even told me, ‘I think your guitar is broke.’ During communion.”
But that experience informs Mr. Frank’s whole classroom philosophy: that there’s joy to be found in mistakes.
“When kids get things wrong — it still happens — you’ll see them tear up a little bit,” he says. “But it’s okay. It’s okay to get things wrong. Let’s promote it, and make it a safe, fun environment.”
He went on: “If we can build relationships and work on their passions, everything else is gonna fall into place.”
Mr. Jeff Frank — a second grade teacher with a song in his heart — is Someone You Should Know.
The Beulah Education Foundation was founded in 2012 to help teachers add materials to their classrooms.