The start of the new school year brings with it a change in leadership for the middle school. Meet Dr. Mike Franklin—he’s a ball of energy bursting with ideas and owns an impressive amount of LSU memorabilia. As the previous head of the Upper School, he is not new to the Mount de Sales community but brings with him a fresh perspective on what the next year will look like as he assumes the role of Middle School division head.
How would you describe your style of leadership in the Middle School?
Above all else, I’m a servant-leader. It’s important to do a variety of tasks, whether it’s setting the course schedule for the semester or cleaning a spill in the hallway; you have to do the work yourself and get your hands dirty to know where help is needed. That’s one piece. The second piece is bringing more than 35 years of experience with me and working to keep the table round rather than rectangular, so everyone has the opportunity to be heard. Involvement of the faculty and young people are critical for any projects to be initiated through the principal’s office.
What are some key differences in how you plan to lead in the Middle School versus the Upper School?
The main difference is the end result: In the Upper School, the focus is to prepare students for college-preparatory classes. The Middle School has a different focus: it prepares our students for high school curriculum and the makeup of every Cavalier. For example, the middle schoolers prepare for ninth grade English versus the college English prep class that’s taught in the Upper School; the approaches in teaching these courses are very different. Middle school students will receive instruction on what’s expected in the Upper School and also will get their first taste of taking semester exams as well. The intentional content alignment and rigor parallels with Mount de Sales’ mission, vision, and values.
How has your previous experience as the Mount de Sales Upper School principal helped shape you for this new role?
I’m coming in with a solid understanding of upper school curriculum and what is expected of its students upon entering ninth grade. I have recent, applicable knowledge of what excellent middle school education can look like in preparation for the upper school. I want to find the happy medium between the classical middle school model and junior high, where the latter is structured with more interdivisional academic cohorts rather than teams. Hopefully, I can implement the best of both models.
Any projects you can share that are coming down the pipeline for this school year?
For the Middle School, we are excited to introduce a project showcase—a physical space that will utilize a room in Cuddy Hall to shed light on the “best of the best” projects we have to offer. We want to reward those sharp, creative projects that inspire so many students to give it their all. We want to reignite passion within our faculty and staff with these innovative displays and remind them on those tough days why they teach at Mount de Sales Academy.
What are you looking forward to most with the start of this new academic year?
I’m most excited to work with our middle school faculty! We’ve been on committees together over the years at Mount de Sales, but I had not had the pleasure before to work closely with these wonderful people. I’m also grateful for our office faculty who have made this transition run so smoothly. It will be fun to enjoy the exuberance younger kids bring in this stage of their lives. I also get to serve as the first welcome to students who are new to Mount de Sales. About a third of the incoming middle school children this year are new to MDS! Newness paves the way for excitement and innovation. I’m also thrilled that field trips are coming back this year; you’ll be sure to see me on some of them!
Do you plan to teach any classes this year? What are they?
Yes, I’ll teach Art Through the Ages, a project-based art history course for sixth graders. The goal is to introduce students to the production of monumental projects. The first project will include a recreation of the caves of Lascaux. They learn about the art history period in tandem with these hands-on projects.
What are some of the changes in faculty for the MS?
This year, we have three faculty members that are new to Mount de Sales for the middle school; two will be teaching social studies and one will teach English. We’ve also shifted the faculty to have everyone teaching in their field, similar to a department structure.
Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties. MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.