Ginger Franks, ATPE’s new representative for Regions 5-7 and 12, reflects on her journey with ATPE and her time as a state officer. Before becoming a regional representative, Ginger was a longstanding ATPE member, and she has seen a lot of change in our organization over the years.
As you read about my ATPE journey, if you are a veteran member, I hope you will reminisce about your own journey, and if you are a new member, I hope you will dream about what your time at ATPE will bring.
I had been an ATPE member for about 15 years before I went to my first convention (the ATPE Convention was where members voted on governance issues and elected officers, which we now do at the ATPE Summit). I went with Sara Hill, a fellow local unit member who became my mentor. Sara was on the Nomination/Election Committee and had to bring along another member to help register attendees. The very first person I registered was Sheila Fields, who was running for state treasurer. She was so kind and patient with me; I really didn’t know for sure what I was doing. It was so exciting for me to see her win and later become state president! The memory of that House of Delegates is one I will always treasure. It was such an amazing experience for me. I was hooked and haven’t missed one in 16 years.
That summer, I went to my first Leader U (Leader U was ATPE’s leadership training event; leaders are now trained during the ATPE Summit). Sara Hill was supposed to go as well, but she was unable to make it. Another new member and I went on our own. We were nervous, but I have never felt as comfortable and welcomed as I did at that event. The Region 7 officers took us under their wing and inspired me to become an ATPE leader. But there is a sad memory. I was sitting with other ATPE members in the Hyatt Regency Hotel (all of Leader U was held there) by the water that used to flow through the lobby when we heard that John F. Kennedy, Jr., had been killed in a plane crash. As you know, unfortunate situations can bring out strong emotions in educators. The sadness we felt for the families of those in the crash, as well as for our country, forged a strong bond between those of us who were there at the time.
Other memorable moments in my journey are with the Woden local unit. We didn’t have much money, but we had an active, excited officer core. We would stay five to a room at convention and Leader U because we wanted to be there so desperately. It all paid off because Woden ended up getting the Saturation Award; we had 100% of our potential membership! Woden continues to be a strong local unit today.
I can’t share my journey without touching on my time as a state officer. Those five years will always be a treasure for me. The wonderful experiences and opportunities I had as a state officer helped me grow as an educator, a leader, and a person. I developed friendships that I will cherish forever, and I did things I never dreamed I would do. I orchestrated a campaign for state treasurer with the tagline “Vote Ginger Franks, the one that sounds like a spicy hotdog.” I lobbied on behalf of public education in Washington, DC. I met with education leaders from other countries (photo above). I talked in front of almost a thousand people to lead the House of Delegates. I stood on the house floor of the Texas Capitol as ATPE educators were recognized. I encourage you to consider whether running for state office would be right for you as well.
Presently my journey has brought me to my new position as an ATPE regional representative for Regions 5, 6, 7, and 12. I feel blessed to be a part of members’ journeys with ATPE! I am very proud of where we are and optimistic about the future of ATPE. It has always been and will continue to be the very best educators’ association in the nation. I look forward to continuing my journey and hope I have the opportunity to share in your journey as well.
Ginger Franks is ATPE’s representative for Regions 5-7 and 12. Before becoming an ATPE regional representative, Ginger was a special education teacher for 34 years and an ATPE member for 30 years. She was the 2013-14 president of ATPE. Check out Ginger's photo album here.