Hall of Fame Portrait: Charlotte Frank Ph.D., Part 1

On December 1, 2011, AEP will induct Charlotte Frank, Ph.D., McGraw-Hill Education; Don Johnston, Don Johnston, Inc.; and Paul McFall, Pearson into the Educational Publishing Hall of Fame. Here in her first installment, Frank, who is SVP, Research and Development, discusses the person who had the greatest influence on her and the advice she would give to those choosing educational publishing as a career.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?

Following high school, where I was the only girl in my physics class, I entered City College of New York’s School of Engineering. However, I felt rejected in college science and left the program after one year. Shortly thereafter, I pursued and received a BBA in statistics with a minor in economics, married, had three children and decided to be a homemaker. It was at that time that my mother reminded me that I had a college degree. She said, “You should go out and work and be independent so that you are always ready to handle whatever challenges that may come your way in the future.”

I took my mother’s advice to heart, and began my education career as a math teacher in the first Intermediate School in New York City. During that time, I developed and piloted the school’s math curriculum, using the first tabletop programmable computer, The Olivetti Programma 101. During a big teachers’ strike in New York City, Olivetti offered me a job to extend what I did at the school to other schools in New York City as well as the metropolitan area. At a major conference in Florida, I visited with my parents who relocated there, when my mother pulls me aside and says, “I told you to go to work and be independent but I didn’t tell you to leave your husband and family.” Shortly thereafter, I returned to the New York City Schools to be a Director of Math, then a Director of Curriculum for a district in the Bronx. Ultimately, I became the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the New York City Board of Education. At the same time, I was helping my own children grow as well as go to and through college. Were it not for my mother’s prodding, I would not be an active member in the educational community – still trying to help all young people to live happy and independent lives.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in educational publishing?

Anyone considering a career in educational publishing must truly care about the education environment of students with whom they want to connect.

You must:

  • Understand what has to be taught in a given subject area, and the appropriate grade level
  • Know how to deliver curriculum in a way that facilitates instruction and drives student achievement
  • Request opportunities to observe, compare and contrast successful instructional programs/approaches
  • Always question the reliability and validity of the data that supports educational initiatives
  • Verify what you think has been successful and what strategies you think could even enhance and expand these effective designs
  • Always think of a different way to expand and build on the success of previous educational approaches

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Dr. Charlotte K. Frank is Sr. Vice President, Research and Development for McGraw-Hill Education of The McGraw-Hill Companies. She has been the keynote speaker at major forums e.g. Teachers College, Harvard University, City University of New York and Bank Street College with a focus on comparing and contrasting school practices with the needs of the workforce for the twenty-first century. She also participates in school reform efforts for the Business Round Table and provides leadership for the annual Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize for Those Who Have Made A Difference in Education as well as serving as the co-chair with Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary) – “Operation Respect: Don’t Laugh At Me.” She graduated with a B.B.A. from CCNY, an MS.ED. from Hunter College, received her Ph.D. from New York University and is now a N.Y.S. Regent Emerita.

Read more about Charlotte Frank and the Hall of Fame.

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