2008 Forward under 40 Award Honoree
UW Majors: History and Political Science
Age: 31 | Washington, D.C.
Teacher and Chair of Math Department, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School
Nate Franz draws on his Wisconsin experience to motivate students in the District of Columbia public schools. In his fifth-grade classroom, students learn "Varsity," become activists and rotate through math learning centers named after UW landmarks.
Franz grew up in the shadows of Camp Randall Stadium, listening to the Marching Band practice. "I would rush to finish my math problems so I could get to my first job, selling sodas at football games. I always returned home covered in sticky soda syrup with a few extra bucks and bee stings," he says. "Bucky Badger was a major distraction."
"Now, I am the one assigning the homework and trying to convince young people to take their work seriously," he says.
Franz works with many underrepresented youth in one of the country's poorest districts, and he is passionate about mentoring other new teachers. "Teaching is the most complex job," he says. "I would love to speed up the learning curve of young teachers while continuing to master the taxonomy of teaching."
In addition to his Forward under 40 award, Franz was recently honored with an Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award from the Washington Post in 2010 and was a finalist for the 2010 D.C. State Board of Education Teacher of the Year.
Franz credits UW-Madison with teaching him to think critically and flexibly, skills that help him achieve success in the classroom. He also benefits from what he describes as "an authentic sense of community" among fellow Badgers.
With a UW degree, "you become a member of the strongest, most proud and incredibly widespread alumni in the world," Franz says. "Wherever you go, there is a Badger who shares a common experience."
In his own words
What is your proudest UW achievement?
Making the quarterfinals of the Ultimate Frisbee National Championships with the Hodags.
What do you read online?
Slate, The Onion, Free Darko, Washington Post
What music do you listen to?
Art Paul Schlosser's latest hits
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
Definitely dog. I am creeped out by how independent cats are.
What five items would you take to a desert island?
Harmonica, Frisbee, Swedish Fish, fishing pole, suntan lotion
What's your guilty pleasure?
I DVR Pardon the Interruption on ESPN every day.
If you could trade places with any person for a week, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
Tough call — either a beekeeper or a comic book artist. I am fascinated by both professions and would love to see if either is as fantastic as I hope they are.