The Franck Fellowship in Special Education
|Julie Louise Franck lived a full life, greatly admired and lovingly remembered. Sadly, her life was cut short at age 37 in 1993.
In honor of her work, Julie's mother, Jane P. Franck, the long-time director of the Milbank Library at Teachers College, established in 1994 the Julie Louise Franck Fellowship, an endowed scholarship in special education. This was the field that expressed the many gifts that Julie cultivated in her education and were harmonized by her interests.
"What decided Julie on the field of special education," Jane Franck noted, "were her varied communications gifts that enabled her to reach, connect and bond with children with special needs, and those of Latino background." The fellowship established in her daughter's name was funded initially by assets from the sale of equities and thereafter by annual donations. Through a provision in Jane Franck's will, the fund ultimately will have an endowment of well over $250,000.
From the time she took her first step to El Paseillo (the music that accompanies the entrance of the toreador to the bullring), Julie developed a strong affinity to the Latinos who populated many of the neighborhoods in New York City. A graduate of Barnard College in Latin American studies and fluent in Spanish, she began her Teachers College years in the TESOL program. Through friends she learned about the special education program, and earned four degrees at Teachers College, culminating in a doctorate in special education instruction and administration in 1987. Julie also was gifted in music and for some years studied composition with Miriam Gideon, a student of the well-known American composer Roger Sessions.
A Passion to Serve
According to her mother, Julie's passion for children with special needs dominated her professional life and ultimately led to her last position as coordinator of pupil personnel services at the Lexington School for the Deaf. In a personal dedication to her after her death, students in their 1994 yearbook praised Julie, "for her ability to assess a situation and solve a problem. Julie always knew how to say the right things at the right time so that every one felt himself or herself to be a winner." Quoting from the New York Times obituary about her daughter, Mrs. Franck said it read in part: "(Julie) consistently simplified complicated administrative systems to ensure maximum quality of life for the severely handicapped population." Julie "was blessed with instincts that drew her in a straight line from a cultural family background to bonding with disabled children in her charge." While at the Shield Institute, her first professional position, she worked with an extremely handicapped child sent from Michigan to live with his grandmother in the hope that a different environment and medical care would help. The boy, about 11 or 12, would sit motionless in a chair with his head down. One day, after many months of trying to establish a personal bond with Eric, Julie started to leave and as usual turned towards him and called his name. For the first time, he raised his head and looked at her. That tiny gesture strengthened Julie's determination and formed the basis for more successful responses enabling the boy to return to his family in Michigan for continued work.
A Life Well Spent
Even as her Hodgkin's disease began to take its toll, Mrs. Franck recalled, "Julie was always positive about life. Two weeks before her death, for example, she gave a birthday party in the hospital for her sister Irene. At the time, we felt Julie's sense of life was undiminished despite her failing health." Julie's father was a strong influence in the formation of her ethics and integrity. Wolf Franck was fluent in German and French and educated classically in Latin and Greek. A radio broadcaster in Berlin, he moved to Paris in May 1933 after Hitler came to power. Personally expatriated by Hitler, he wrote several books, including one on exiles, and many articles, and associated with Andre Gide, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Berthold Brecht, among others. He also broadcasted regularly from Strassburg. In June 1940, when the Germans overran Paris, he was captured, sent to a French concentration camp but escaped and ended up in Casablanca. Learning of his status, the Manns prevailed on President Franklin Roosevelt to give Wolf Franck a personal visa and he came to the United States in 1941. Jane Franck met Wolf Franck while at Columbia University and they married in 1953. Julie Franck brought to her profession in special education a fresh perspective and an uninhibited personality. Her mother and sister are pleased to have this fellowship in her honor and hope that Julie's dreams will continue in the efforts of the fellows.
The Franck Fellows
As an enduring legacy, Julie's commitment to special education is finding expression in recipients of the fellowship her mother established. One such recipient is Grace Lappin, a doctoral candidate at Teachers College whose interests in special education are blindness and visual impairment. "As a reading teacher in the New York public schools, I observed that students had trouble reading because they couldn't see. I discussed my impressions with Professor Virginia S. Stolarski at Teachers College, an expert in the field, and with her encouragement decided on pursuing a Ph.D. with an emphasis on how caregivers bond with infants with visual impairment. With the Franck fellowship, I had the financial support to make the transition from the public schools to an instructor in early childhood education at St. Joseph's College."
Robert A. Lane, another recipient, is pursuing an Ed.D. in Learning Disabilities at Teachers College. Already the holder of two master's degrees from Teachers College, one in Learning Disabilities and the other in Reading and Learning, he teaches a master's program seminar and coordinates student teaching in learning disabilities. "With the Franck fellowship covering tuition," he added, "I'm free to focus my research on sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, mainly from the Bronx, to explore the impact of both a discussion format and writing instruction to enhance the reading, comprehension, writing and problem-solving skills of the learning disabled."
Jane P. Franck, the longtime director of the Milbank Library at Teachers College, established in 1994 the Julie Louise Franck Fellowship, an endowed scholarship in special education.
Published Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2001