Who is Franklin J. Willis?
For fourteen years, educator, and leader, Franklin Willis has served the students and families of the Nashville. Through music, Willis has educated, mentored, and developed young minds to be forward thinking contributors to society. A servant leader specializing in authentic culturally relevant teaching, empowering student contributions, and developing teachers to reach their full capacity, Willis finds true joy when at the service of others.
A three-time CMA Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence and with more than a decade of experience in the classroom, Franklin Willis is a trailblazer and catalyst for change in the music education space, as well as a rising leader within the music industry at large. Not only does he lead the way in culturally responsive teaching techniques, but also, in his new post as Community Impact Director at the CMA Foundation, paves the way for students to experience equitable access to opportunities in the music industry beyond the classroom. Willis offers invaluable insight into the challenges and solutions that exist in music and arts education, ultimately bridging the gap between the music teachers the CMA Foundation serves, and the Country Music industry overall. With intentionality and creative vision for the future, Willis continues to challenge the status quo and encourage all facets of the music business to think bigger in order to serve students and ensure that the next generation steps into a genre that is robust and thriving.
As the former elementary music instructional coach for Metro Nashville Public Schools, Willis focused on equipping teachers with instructional support and necessary resources to strengthen their professional acumen and enhance their classrooms. Including, shepherding colleagues and teachers through the reality’s students are faced with around equity, inclusion and racism. Through his work, he has developed a passion in the cultivation of musicianship for young minds as every child has musical potential and deserves a music teacher who will see the best in them. Willis believes that music education is a vital tool to teach students about other cultures, create community, and inspire a love for learning. Willis consistently uses his network to provide opportunities for students to utilize their passion for music for all to see. This includes producing music videos and stadium performances at CMA Fest, a four-day music festival in Nashville, TN.
Willis has created and facilitated professional development sessions for music teachers of all grade levels sharing his unique and relevant teaching practices. He consistently collaborates with colleagues, community organizations, local businesses, colleges, and universities to advocate for the importance of music education in our schools as well as developing curriculum that will lead to higher engagement from students. Through his work Willis has received national recognition for his commitment to student learning, his passion for the profession and his innovative teaching practices.
Willis is a children’s book author and graduate of the University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Music Education with an emphasis in Choral Music in 2009. In 2012, he earned the Master of Education Degree in Nonprofit Leadership from Belmont University. Most recently Willis completed the Education Specialist Degree with an emphasis in Instructional Leadership from Tennessee Technological University.