Principal champions safe, resourceful environment for primary students
PARKER – Drew Francis has followed a winding path on his way to Douglas County School District (DCSD).
Francis explains that he comes from a family of many educators, including his mother. While it was a natural progression that he too would enter the field of teaching and administration, he initially resisted committing to the idea.
“My mom had suggested for years that education would be a good career for me. I therefore fought that instinct, since the idea came from my mother. By the time I was about 18, I began to realize how much I enjoyed working with children,” Francis said.
Q & A with Drew Francis
What was your first job?
If you had the opportunity to pursue another career, what would you choose?
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
What is the last book you read?
What is your favorite item on your school’s lunch menu?
What was your first car?
Do you have a favorite Colorado getaway?
What is your favorite quote?
Do you have any pets that enrich your life?
What advice would you share with a college graduate entering field of teaching?
With a plan to become a teacher in place, Francis attended Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.
Affirmation came quickly for Francis.
“My first day of teaching was in the very classroom where I started Kindergarten as a student. I had a chance to be a substitute teacher for my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Whipple. It felt like I came full circle and was pretty excited to start my teaching career.”
Full-time positions teaching first and fourth grades followed, before traveling to Mexico, where Francis was a third-grade teacher and a math trainer at the American School Foundation of Monterrey. After the birth of his first child (and some nudging from the grandparents), Francis and his wife returned to the United States, spending three years job-sharing a teacher’s position in a second-grade classroom.
Francis received a Master of Educational Leadership degree from Aurora University in Illinois and subsequently worked for two years at the University of Chicago as an Adjunct Professor. He was actively involved with the authorship team of the Everyday Math program, and worked with more than 200 Chicago public schools during the implementation of Everyday Math.
It was in 2006 that Francis and his wife made the move to Colorado, landing in Douglas County. He served as the assistant principal at Cherokee Trail Elementary School from 2005 until 2009 before taking the helm at Mountain View Elementary School.
Five years later, Francis says it still does not feel like a job.
“I love the opportunity to interact with students, staff and parents on a daily basis,” Francis said. “I was a student who had a hard time sitting still, so the pace of this work seems to fit me very well.”
Mountain View is a neighborhood school serving children from preschool through second grade. Francis is committed to providing an atmosphere that meets every student where they are, and using every available resource to support them in making great gains. He emphasizes that teachers and staff at Mountain View strive to provide a nurturing environment that is focused on what is good for young children academically, socially and emotionally. Francis is also committed to providing a workplace where learning and growth aren’t limited to students.
“Every single time a leader in our building takes a risk and tries something new, shares new learning, or finds a way to lead us in a positive direction, it is incredibly satisfying. It is so rewarding to see those who not only see the vision and pursue the vision, but they also help others to pursue that vision!”
It seems that Francis’ mother was right. Education is where he feels at home. As it turns out, another aspect from his background has also prepared him to serve students.
“I grew up working on a farm in the Midwest,” Francis explains. “That experience of safely getting a herd of animals from the pasture to the barn has helped prepare me for entrance and dismissal at an elementary school!“