Hooker and Franklin

Walton County schools Superintendent Nathan Franklin, right, received the Bill Barr Leadership Award on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, at a Georgia School Superintendents Association meeting in Athens, Ga. WIth Franklin is Social Circle schools Superintendent Robbie Hooker, who nominated him.

ATHENS, Ga. — In just five years on the job, Walton County schools Superintendent Nathan Franklin has earned one of the most prestigious honors in his profession.

Franklin was named Wednesday as the 2021 recipient of the Bill Barr Leadership Award, one of the top awards given by the Georgia School Superintendents Association.

“It is a true honor to receive this recognition from an exceptional group of colleagues,” Franklin said. “I am a firm believer that iron sharpens iron and consider it a privilege to support leaders across the state.

“This award also recognizes our entire Walton County team and the work they do to support our students, staff and families each and every day.”

Superintendent Robbie Hooker of the Social Circle City Schools submitted the nomination, with support from colleagues around the state. The award is named for the first director of the GSSA and honors exceptional superintendents who possess the unique ability to mentor, teach and lead others in pursuing excellence in public education.

“Dr. Franklin is more than deserving of this recognition and we are honored to have such an extraordinary leader here in Walton County,” county school board Chairwoman Diane Turner said.

“We congratulate him on this distinguished recognition and commend him for his ability and willingness to lead and mentor those around him.”

A former principal of Loganville High School, Franklin was an assistant superintendent when the school board tapped him to follow Superintendent Gary Hobbs in 2016 upon his retirement.

Under his leadership, the district has seen its graduation rate improve each year — more than 10% since 2016. Some 83.2% of students with disabilities are graduating on time, an increase of 34.6% since 2016.

The nomination noted Franklin has worked to foster positive school climates with open communication and trust, resulting in a majority of schools in the district achieving the state’s highest school climate rating.

The district also has an employee retention rate of more than 95%.

“An effective mentor is highly committed to the task of helping other leaders find success and fulfillment in their work,” Hooker wrote. “It can be challenging work that requires significant investments of time and energy.

“Despite having to lead a district with 15 schools, over 14,300 students and 2,000 employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Franklin remained committed to building relationships with other superintendents and supporting their needs.”

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