Order on the court… and classroom

When Ethan Franklin was a student at DeKalb High School, he played Varsity Basketball. The Barbs were a force on the court, earning their fair share of accolades and a conference championship. When he graduated in 2009, Ethan was unsure of his life path, but knew he wanted to continue his life on the court. He came to Kishwaukee College and laced up his basketball shoes… and found a direction he had not anticipated.

Today, Ethan teaches mathematics at Genoa-Kingston High School and is head coach of the freshmen boys’ basketball team, as well as assistant coach of the varsity team. Being a Kougar athlete is what led him there.

“Basketball has always been a huge part of my life, and I wanted nothing more than to continue my career at Kish working under Coach Rob Buss,” he explained. “Being a student athlete was everything to me. It kept my focus academically to maintain extremely high standards for myself. I also did the best that I could to share those high standards with my teammates, so that our overall program could benefit.”

Ethan loved math and helped his teammates with their math skills. He not only informally tutored, he participated in the College’s Embedded Math Tutor Program. He was a tutor for and sat in classes he had already taken and excelled in with a particular instructor. He then held regular meetings outside of class with the students to explain concepts, reinforce lessons, and share strategies.

In effect, he was a teacher.

He said, “I decided to be a math teacher while being a student at Kish. Being able to help my teammates, along with other students who came to me for assistance, was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. The passion I found for helping my friends, evolved into helping younger students.”

He cites his instructors at Kish as being not only excellent in their field but providing him with a blueprint on how to run a classroom.

“Laurie Hoecherl was the instructor that I had the strongest connection with. I was her Embedded Tutor for two semesters, and I was fortunate enough to have her for Calculus 1, 2, and 3. She was a mentor to me in many ways,” he said. “How she ran her classroom is a model for how I run my own now at GKHS. She has been amazing for me, and I could not be more thankful to have had her as a teacher.”

On the Cog’s basketball court, Ethan finds himself mirroring another Kish mentor: Coach Rob Buss. “I model how my GKHS team operates using the values that Coach Buss taught me,” he noted. “I learned a lot from Coach Buss. I still have a very close relationship with him, and I go to him for any advice about coaching. He instilled great defensive principles and work ethic qualities into me that I am bringing into our program at G-K.”

After graduating from Kish, Ethan transferred to Beloit College to continue playing basketball at the collegiate level and then to Northern Illinois University, where he graduated with his B.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education in May 2015. He taught at Byron Middle School for one year and then fell victim to the budget issues plaguing Springfield. As the newest hire, he was the first cut. But Genoa-Kingston quickly grabbed the talented young teacher and found a basketball coach, too.

Looking back, he credits his decision to attend Kishwaukee College as the beginning of his career path. He summed up his experience, “I am so incredibly thankful that I had the opportunities I had while at Kishwaukee College. It was a way for me to discover what my real passion was by having the opportunity to be in a smaller class setting with fantastic teachers and role models. I was able to have so much support as a student that I believe I am a better teacher because of it. I also believe that I set myself up for the rest of my life in such a great way financially. Not compiling student loans while at Kish have made my transition to having a career much easier than if I were to start with that hanging over my head!”

Ethan Franklin has certainly found the place he was meant to be, on the court and in the classroom.