The first few years of my life would be considered normal by most standards. I was born and raised in Phoenix by two caring and dedicated parents who met when they worked together as elementary school teachers. My mother had just finished earning her master’s degree in psychology when my younger sister was born. I was 6 years old, and from that point on, my life would never be the same.
After my sister was born, my mother became schizophrenic, and over the better part of the next six years, the doctors would try unsuccessfully to treat her illness with different medications. This time in my life was filled with dysfunction. I was in and out of Child Protective Services due to the trouble at home, I almost died in a car accident and my older brother took his own life. As would be expected, experiencing all of these traumas changed me. I became very introverted; I fell into a deep depression and was suffering from severe insomnia. As a result, I missed several weeks of school and fell very far behind.
Halfway through 8th grade, I learned about a local public school alternative, Ombudsman Charter Schools. At Ombudsman, the school day was much shorter than traditional high school, and I was able to start classes in the afternoon, which helped with my insomnia. The safe and positive environment at Ombudsman helped me open up, regain some confidence and begin to make friends again. Through one-on-one attention I received from teachers like Andrea Rodriguez, I developed and strengthened skills I did not even know I possessed. It is without question that Ms. Rodriquez’ guidance and encouragement helped shape me into the man I have become.
I earned my high school diploma from Ombudsman and went on to college at Arizona State University, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in English. I found my calling in teaching near the end of college when my father fell ill. Both of my parents had been teachers; and before my mother’s illness took hold, she was also pursuing a career in psychology so she could help people. With everything I had been through in life, I knew there were kids out there who were experiencing much worse — I realized that because of my upbringing and personal experiences, I was uniquely positioned to help troubled teens.
Today I am a teacher at Ombudsman, and Andrea Rodriguez, the teacher who helped me to believe in myself, is now a cherished colleague.
As a troubled teen, I was fortunate to have the staff at Ombudsman in my life. As an adult, I take great pride in being able to offer mentorship and guidance to teens who are struggling and looking for help.
To families and teens who are going through hard times: please know that there are people who care, there are people who want to see you succeed and there are people who will help you reach your goals. I am living proof.
About Ethan Franklin
Ethan Franklin is a teacher at Ombudsman Charter East II. With locations throughout Arizona, Ombudsman Charter Schools offer collaborative learning programs, personalized instruction from caring teachers, small class sizes and flexible scheduling. Ombudsman Charter Schools also help students who need to earn additional credits, who are at risk of dropping out or who have dropped out of school and want to return and earn their diploma.