Frazier Primary supporter receives prestigious honors

Published 12:33 am Thursday, June 5, 2008

NATCHEZ — If Lorraine Franklin had her way she would clone Ralph Daniel — and she’d make a lot of clones.

Daniel was recently named both Natchez-Adams School District parent of the year and Mississippi Department of Education’s parent of the year for Region 3.

Franklin is the principal at Frazier Primary School where Daniel does most of his volunteer work.

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“Frazier has a very special place in my heart,” he said.

And the place Frazier occupies in Daniel’s heart is indeed special because while Daniel was named parent of the year, he actually has no children in school.

Daniel’s affinity for Frazier Elementary began with Joseph Frazier, the school’s namesake, before Daniel was a teenager.

“He showed me the things a young man needs to know,” he said.

Daniel said during that time he was mentored by both Joseph and Ora Frazier.

“That meant a great deal to me,” he said.

Daniel said he noticed that the attention Frazier gave him was not bestowed to other young men his age.

“That made me feel special,” he said. “And that’s what I want to pass on to these children.”

So Daniel is passing it on.

Daniel, a former employee of the International Paper mill, has been working with Frazier’s students since 1983.

Daniel said his work with the school originally began when International Paper partnered with Frazier to help the school.

When IP closed Daniel made Frazier his personal project.

“I try to help all the schools (in the district) but Frazier is special to me,” he said.

Frazier student Davarius Bruce, 9, said he sees Daniel nearly every day at school.

“He’s always there,” Bruce said. “He just helps people.”

And that’s exactly what Daniel has committed his life to doing — helping young people.

Daniel said he visits the school to read to children, mentor troubled kids or do anything the school needs done.

“I’ll mop, serve lunch, paint, hang curtains it doesn’t matter to me,” he said.

In fact Franklin said Daniel is at the school so much he recognizes what needs to be done around the school and presents his ideas to her.

“If we could clone Ralph Daniel there would be a lot of Ralph Daniel in Natchez,” she said.

While Daniel said he loves the attention he gets from the children at the schools he has a larger, more important plan — parental involvement.

“A lot of parents are concerned,” he said. “But not all of them get involved.”

Franklin said Daniel’s plan to bolster parental involvement is working.

“Parents see all the work he does and they want to get involved,” she said.

Vincent Bonds, a 7-year-old at Frazier, has very simple reason for liking Daniel.

“He always reads us stories,” he said.

And for Daniel that’s what it’s all about.

“It comes from right here,” he said tapping his hand on his chest over his heart.