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New principals gear up for 2011 school year

Pam Franklin

By Bonnie L. Jackson

News Editor

Barksdale Reading Institute (BRI) has appointed Pamela M. Franklin as the new principal for the Hazlehurst Middle School effective July 1.

Franklin most recently served as the principal at the North Jackson Elementary, which is part of the Jackson Public School system.

“I had already made the decision that it was time to leave where I was.  I wanted to find a position where I could use all of my skills,” Franklin explained.

“My name came up in the discussions Barksdale was having about the new principal here.  Then, I received a call from Claiborne Barksdale.”

Claiborne Barksdale is the Chief Executive Officer for BRI.

“I did not enter into this without a lot of thought and prayer. It was a process of elimination. First, I did the research so I knew some of the history of the school. Then, I met with Claiborne and the director of program strategies, Kelly Butler. The meeting lasted two hours. I found that there is genuine concern from Barksdale to turn this school around. I visited the campus. I looked at the administrative staff that is in place. There are two assistant principals, two academic deans, four coaches, and four interventionists,” Franklin continued.    

According to Franklin the next step was the formal interview with the committee, which was composed of a representative from Public Impact, two local teachers, Butler, Claiborne, and a principal from Quitman County. “It was a very thoughtful process,” Franklin stated.

Public Impact is a national education policy and management consulting firm based in Chapel Hill, N.C. composed of researchers, thought leaders, tool-builders, and on-the-ground consultants who help education leaders and policy makers improve student learning in K-12 education, according to its website

Franklin is confident that these factors coupled with her background make this a good fit.

I am from Canton, Mississippi. My grandmother was a native of Hermanville. My parents both were both teachers. My mother was a career teacher and my father taught for a period, but worked for the government.”


Franklin received her Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership: Administration and Supervision, in June 2004 from Union University’s School of Education in Jackson, TN. She is certified in School Administration for grades K-12.

In 1997, she earned a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), Math Education from Boston University’s School of Education in Boston, MA.    

Turning Point

The heart of Franklin is found in this fact. Franklin graduated from Tulane University’s Newcomb College, New Orleans, LA in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Mathematical Economics.

She graduated in May. A month later, she started working for the First National Bank of Commerce, New Orleans, LA as a Corporate Lender/Relationship Manager soliciting, establishing, and servicing corporate accounts.  “I handled lending activities including term loans, unsecured lending, A/R financing, commercial real estate loans, and syndications.  I managed loans ranging from $100,000 to $25,000,000. I just could not see myself working my entire life helping people make more money,” admitted Franklin.

She found her passion for teaching after she volunteered for Junior Achievement. “I could not wait to get there on Saturday to work with those kids. I found my passion. You either have it for teaching or you don’t.  You can’t teach passion,” Franklin enthusiastically explained.

“I believe all teachers and staff must have the same passion for teaching and working with students,” stated Franklin.


“I am in the mist of hiring 50% of the staff.  I see this as an opportunity to bring in people with a new perspective,” she continued.

“I really appreciate the partnership Barksdale has with Teach for America (TFA),” Franklin continued. “I believe that many of the TFA teachers are like me they came to education through an alternative route. Barksdale is taking them through a rigorous training exercise in north Mississippi. They are receiving in the field training right now,” Franklin explained.

“Their professional development is on-going. They meet once a month for continuing training,” informed Franklin.

The building facilities are in pretty good condition compared to some of the places I have taught. I did my practicum work in the Boston Public School system and their facilities were in worst shape.  We are working to improve them. We want the students to enjoy coming to the campus,” assured Franklin.  

Community Involvement

“I see my role as developing and maintaining the partnership between the Hazlehurst community and Barksdale.  This school belongs to the community. I compare it to a marriage.  You must be equal partners if the relationship is expected to succeed. Continuous communication is required. I will work to facilitate that,” committed Franklin.

“We have a number of projects in the planning stage to get the public involved.  I have had people come to me suggesting things we can do to create opportunities to engage the community,” explained Franklin.

Management Style

“I do not compromise my standards.  I don’t have to control everything. I believe that good leaders cultivate good leaders. There is one principal working with others to make the best decisions. I really do believe that we all have the same goal in mind,” Franklin stated.

Franklin hopes that the school will not have the label of a failing school.  “I hope the test scores will show improvement; and we can move from the label of transformation school to turn around school. Everything that I need is here. I see myself working here and I feel supported,” stated Franklin.

Franklin excelled as a student and plans to bring those high expectations to the students.


Barksdale Reading Institute is the philanthropic effort of Jim Barksdale and his late wife Sally McDonnell Barksdale. McDonnell-Barksdale is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Fred McDonnell, Jr. of Hazlehurst.  

The Barksdales gave the State of Mississippi $100 million dollars to start the institute in January 2000.

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