Walking through the halls day after day, sometimes we begin to observe the people in our building only on their surface levels. We view teachers as teachers and administration as administration—faces of our school more than anything else. However, Mr. Chris Frazier has much more to him than his job title. In fact, he didn’t always expect to work in education.
Frazier is one of three vice principals at Franklin. Growing up in Northeast Portland, Frazier attended Irvington Elementary and Fernwood Middle School. His family then moved to the Hillsboro area, where he finished middle school and graduated from Glencoe High School. Frazier went on to gain his undergraduate degree from Willamette University in business and economics while playing football for the Bearcats.
With his degree in business and economics, Frazier did not see himself going into education at this point. “I actually had goals and ambitions of getting into advertising or marketing. I wanted to own a black-owned advertising agency and help local community businesses get their names out and get their products out.” However, Frazier struggled to find work in this field after college and instead began volunteering for the Prospective Gents Club. Here, Frazier helped support African American male high school students in Portland Public Schools to matriculate into college and served as an outside system of support. In this position, Frazier would provide weekly tutoring sessions and give students exposure to community events. “We would go to plays and just really try to work with them on closing the opportunity gap and closing the achievement gap because often times the students didn’t have the resources to support them in that endeavor,” explains Frazier. It was through this program that Frazier found his love of education. He states, “They say you want that one job that you would work for free. I found my way into education and realized that I loved it.”
Frazier began his career in education at De La Salle North Catholic High School, and over his thirteen years there he served as a dean and taught business, US History, and Economics. “They [also] have an internship program where every student in the building works, so my job was to basically to create this curriculum for incoming ninth graders to get them ready for internships,” explains Frazier. Because of his prior experience in development programs, he had a good sense of the skills teenagers would need to be successful in their internships. Eventually, Frazier decided that he wanted to do something different. “Working in a Catholic school or private school, it’s different, but my heart and my passion has always been with Portland Public Schools. I was really intrigued by the equity initiative that PPS was doing back then, and I had friends that worked in PPS, [and] I coached at a PPS high school in football.” He began working at Franklin in 2014.
As a vice principal, Frazier has many different responsibilities. One of these duties is being responsible for a specific section of the student population. “[We] deal with discipline of course, but the role that I really enjoy is working with our teachers and going through the teacher evaluation process, seeing how students are learning, and seeing what supports I can provide to our teachers with regards to their instruction and content,” says Frazier. Frazier also works with Scott Santangelo, Franklin’s athletic director, in the athletic department and oversees programs like the Equity Team and Climate Team.
Frazier hopes to remain at Franklin long term, but as an administrator, he is an agent of the district. This means that what is in the best interest of the district may conflict with what he wants to do. Nevertheless, Frazier eventually hopes to become a building leader or principal. He explains, “At some point, I do think that I would like to be able to see if I can add more to a school community and work in a collaborative fashion to create a very dynamic and effective school.”
Some of Frazier’s fondest memories at Franklin include the outdoor graduations, the grand opening of our new building this year and the football game against South Eugene, and the multicultural assemblies. He believes that it is the community at Franklin that makes it a special place. “Our community speaks to our whole mission statement where we talk about our traditions, we talk about our community, and we talk about our future,” he explains. He describes that the many individuals who have been here for decades help maintain honored traditions like May Fete and the Rose Festival, but he enjoys that our current student body is pushing to create more space for student feedback, like Student Senate. “I call [Franklin] the gem of the Southeast because it’s often not talked about, but what I’m actually seeing in these last four years is that we are starting to become one of the schools that is seen as a model within the district, so to me that’s a sense of joy and pride.”
Outside of work, Frazier enjoys taking weekend trips to Seattle and the beach, working out, and relaxing as much as he can. But most of all, he loves to spend time with his family and watch his three-year old son, Jaylen, grow up.