McDonald Elementary music teacher wins two awards for excellence

December 20, 2018 GMT

McDonald Elementary music teacher Jan Frank was blown away last month when she was presented with two awards, Central Valley School District teacher of the year from the American Legion Post 241 and the Washington State American Legion Educator of the Year.

“It was very generous of them,” she said. “I was very honored.”

She was nominated for the awards by David Sutton, a member of Post 241. “The American Legion have been part of the school’s veteran’s assembly for years,” she said. “I was surprised when he nominated me.”

She said she’s a little embarrassed by all the attention and isn’t one to toot her own horn.

“I prefer to kind of meld into the background,” she said.

The awards were presented to her at the school’s Veteran’s Day assembly.

“I actually got emotional,” she said. “I was humbled. The fact that it came from a veteran’s organization made it very special.”

Frank said her late father served in the Navy during World War II after he trained at Farragut. He never talked about his experiences in the war, but he kept a daily journal during the war that his family found after he died.

“It was just very powerful,” she said.

Frank almost didn’t become a teacher. She graduated from Eastern Washington University with a degree in education in 1979.

“I student-taught doing high school band and I thought nope, this isn’t the grade for me,” she said.

She went into retail, raised her family and then worked as a Washington State Patrol dispatcher for two years. In 1994 she started working with the East Valley School District strings program as a para-professional.

She did that work for eight years before working as a para-professional in a special education classroom. She loved the experience and it convinced her take some classes and workshops, dust off her teaching certificate and get into the classroom as a teacher. She has no regrets about delaying her career as a teacher.

“Then I was ready,” she said. “I totally made the right choice.”

Frank has been working at McDonald Elementary for 11 years.

“This is the best school ever,” she said. “The staff and the kids, from the principal on down, everybody is amazing. It just felt like home as soon as I got here.”

Elementary music is all about the basics, Frank said. She teaches rhythm reading, pitch matching and how to play simple instruments.

“It’s not as specialized,” she said. “It’s broad.”

She enjoys how excited the students get when there is a performance coming up.

“I have always just enjoyed music,” she said. “What I like about teaching it at elementary is interacting with students.”