Born in the East Central Texas town of Leona to a Baptist minister and music teacher, Frances (Fran) M. Lewis Rhodes knew that she wanted to work with children from an early age. As a young child, she often had tea parties with her favorite Teddy Bear to whom she would often read. (The Teddy Bear was given to her by her father when he left to serve as a Chaplain in WWII with instructions to â€œhold it tight until his return.â€) Music was also a part of family life with her mother playing the church organ and Fran playing piano at church and the French horn in school where she was first chair from sixth to 12th grades.
Her love for learning grew as she became more and more active in school. She attended Texas City High School where she was active in debate, band, and all sports. She names two teachers that influenced her the most. Her ninth grade debate coach opened her mind to thinking, while her P.E. teacher saw a talent in sports and encouraged her. Upon graduation from high school, she was voted â€œbest all around sports girl,â€ and received the â€œbest all around girl student award.â€
She met Milton Rhodes the first week of school at Baylor University, and they were married at the end of their sophomore year with a firm commitment to finish their studies, which they did, graduating together in 1958.
Her first teaching job was as a second grade teacher in Arlington and â€œit was everything I dreamed of.â€
The family moved to San Antonio in 1965, and after working at Eisenhower Baptist Kindergarten, Windcrest Elementary School, and Our Lady of the Lake University, Fran found her home at Northside in the fall of 1972 when she began teaching fifth and sixth grade reading at Shenandoah (now Howsman) Elementary School. After only one year, she was tapped to serve as a Reading Specialist at Boone and Locke Hill elementary schools.
In 1976, she became of the Director of Professional Development Center for Individualized Instruction at Region 20 traveling to school districts throughout the region teaching the reading component for the first TABS Test. (The seven individuals that started in this Center have met once a year for the past 25 years for a reunion.)
In 1982, she returned to NISD as a reading specialist at the then new Rudder Middle School, and served as Vice Principal at Cody Elementary School for one year before becoming Principal at Oak Hills Terrace in 1985. She states that they were the pilot of everything. They piloted CMC, Reading Recovery program and the forerunner to the Steps to Success program. She opened the new Fernandez Elementary School in 1990, where they were selected as the first State Mentor School in Region 20, the Trinity selected Smart School for San Antonio, and were an Early Childhood model school for the state.
She became Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Administration in January 1996 and served in that position until her retirement in 2000. Although retired from NISD, Fran is still an active partner in educating the children of Northside. She can often be seen reading to the children in the library, and she hopes to instill her love for reading in each child that enters the doors of Frances M. Rhodes Elementary School.