Franz the Manz: making history engaging

By Julianna Tassi

It’s not a one-time experience for the first thing students see walking into room C116 to be a tall man jumping around the room. He says, “Oh my gosh oh my gosh, guys! Do you know what day it is?” The students don’t need to wait another second to hear him answer his own question in order to know that it’s clearly Art Day. (Art Day is a day dedicated to sharing and celebrating the art made in a particular era of European history.)  The class smiles and rolls their eyes, knowing there wouldn’t be anything anyone can do to slow his excitement. “It’s Art Day everyone! It’s Art Day,” he says cheerfully.

However, it doesn’t have to be Art Day to see the constant enthusiasm of Mr. Franz. His outgoing personality is revealed through his jokes, his sarcasm, and his love for history.

“He manages to make everything very light humored and somehow simultaneously prepare us very well for a difficult AP exam,” said Batavia student Gabe Kramer.

Mr. Franz is best known for his iconic jokes and puns throughout class. In a powerpoint that the class had to take notes on about trade routes and overseas travel, he made 23 puns in a row about boats.

“I like that he is professional but also will joke with us, making class a great time,” said sophomore Gia Marino.

Students say his humor creates a very uplifting, enjoyable environment in the classroom. But it’s not only his jokes that inspire attentiveness and curiosity. He also is able to help students know what they need to do to improve as well as push them to succeed.

“He is the most understanding teacher I’ve ever meet, but he also is very patient and professional which makes me respect him so much,” Marino said.

Franz graduated from Aquin High School in Freeport, Il. He attended Highland Community College and graduated with an associate’s degree in science. At Elmhurst College, he majored in history and political science. Then at Northern Illinois University, he received a Master’s in secondary education. It was in his sophomore year of college when he knew that teaching was what he wanted to do in life. Franz decided he “wanted to teach high school because you can go much deeper into the subject matter.”

Batavia High School is the only high school Franz has taught in.

“We have a wonderful community with great kids which makes teaching even more enjoyable,” he said. “I especially like it when I run into a former student who says they enjoyed my class and they were somehow impacted by the experience.”

Franz has been teaching AP European History as well as AP Government at Batavia High School since 1990. His love for these topics started at a young age and continued through college.

“When I was in grade school, we were required to go to the library and pick out books to read.  I always headed to the history section to find a book. I especially liked to read about WWII.” Franz said.

These courses are known to be very challenging and difficult to understand at times. His teaching methods help students exceed their expectations for these classes and enjoy the material much more.

“(Mr. Franz) is an interesting person and makes his class and content more interesting than it already is,” said Batavia junior Ellie Baisch.

A tradition of Mr. Franz’s AP Euro class is to design t-shirts at the end of the year with a joke of a historical picture and/or quote.

“Oftentimes, the students design a shirt that makes fun of me,” Franz said.  “I’m okay with this since I have tortured the students with so many bad puns throughout the year and a lot of homework.”

Mr. Franz has built a very memorable, powerful legacy on BHS. Students expressed that they clearly are very impacted by his personality and the way he teaches.

“He is very direct but also goofy so you aren’t ever confused in his class. You also retain everything much better because he isn’t boring and always lets us participate,” Marino said.

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