History teacher with a world of experience


Mr. Franco with his students at a concentration camp exhibit in Europe.

Jimmy Oliver, Editor-in-chief

He bikes to work, has some incredibly fashionable cowboy boots, and is always boasting about the random stuff he finds on the side of the road. This man is Mr. John Franco, and he is truly living the American dream. If you’ve had Mr. Franco in either his U.S. History class or AP European History class, you know of his constant sarcasm and funny nicknames for his students. But very few know where he came from before he began teaching and the life he lived as a Portuguese immigrant.

Born in 1961, Franco lived a childhood that not many Americans have endured. During that time, Portugal was ruled by a fascist, militaristic dictator. “It was an overbearing regime that controlled people’s lives and espoused nationalism through many, sort of, propagandistic things.”  His young life revolved around military and survival training in an organization called the “Boy Scouts”. Do not confuse that group with its American counterpart. While American Boy Scouts learn how to tie knots and build campfires, Franco and the Boy Scouts of fascist Portugal were learning how to fight and survive on the battlefield. Fortunately, Franco and his family were able to escape the tyrannical government and start a life in the United States before he was sent to fight in the Portuguese military.

Franco was able to come to America as a twelve-year-old in 1972 with his mother and sisters. Due to political issues, his father had to wait to join his family overseas. If there was one word to describe the Franco family, it was hardworking. With the booming American economy of the 70’s on their side, his family was able to get on their feet relatively quickly in the manufacturing industry.

Unfortunately, Franco’s father passed away when he was just nineteen years old. “Though I didn’t spend much time with him, he was a definitive person in shaping my personality.” The death of his father hit Franco pretty hard causing him to do some regrettable things in his you life. But even through this rough patch, Franco still found his way up. “Over time, I think I’m the kind of individual that’s risen through the cracks, with a lot of luck.”

Upon his mother’s return to Portugal, Franco was alone. But with his rugged individualism and some good fortune, he was able to make the most out of his American life. Starting his professional career as a salesperson, he found a talent for business that he still teaches his students today and the stability in his life that he had wanted. “I met my wife, who was a pillar of support and still is for me. She gave me a lot of that stability that I was looking for.” With a wife and kids by his side, Franco started his teaching career.

“I just want to open the opportunities to people, to understand the connections between Europe and America, to dare to peer out beyond West Side or Massachusetts, and think in a global perspective.” Franco takes tremendous pride in his AP European History class. By combining recorded history and his own personal experiences, Franco is not only able to teach students about Europe, but show how much our lives are impacted by what happened on that continent. Through the use of the annual trips to Europe, he can further expand the horizons of students. “I’ve never had a bad comment or a bad experience, it’s always been rather eye-opening.” The upcoming trip to Europe will include flying to cities like London, Paris, and Barcelona, three of Europe’s most prominent places. “By taking kids on trips and by using the stories and information that I’ve had come to me over a couple of generations of learning, it opens up and hopefully is a bridge to understanding.”