‘Deeply Moving,’ As Frankenbach Wins Lufkin Prize



Mr. Charles Frankenbach addresses the community after receiving the Lufkin Prize.

The community gathered in Elfers on Tuesday, May 3, to celebrate Mr. Charles Frankenbach, Russel Bigelow Chair and instructor in English, as he received the 2022 Lufkin Prize. 

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Frankenbach recounted the lessons he’s learned from his family, colleagues, friends, and former teachers, and thanked them. He also quoted the autobiography of John Hammond ’29, who is both a jazz musician and record producer who has worked with artists like Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and a civil rights activist who has advocated for racial integration in the music industry. 

The Lufkin Prize was established in 2006 by Mr. Dan Lufkin ’49, P’80,’82,’88,’23 and is presented annually to a faculty member of the community to award their consistent demonstration of ethical character, moral leadership, and service as a role model for all students. The award recognizes a faculty member’s outstanding overall contribution to the community’s growth, whether it be as a teacher, advisor, dorm faculty, or coach. 

Throughout his 33-year tenure at the school, Mr. Frankenbach has made contributions to numerous aspects of the community. He has been head coach of the  Boys Basketball team at the Varsity and JV level, lived in Buehler, Wieler, and Watson dorms, founded the fly-fishing co-curricular, and served as head of the English department for numerous years. 

Mr. Frankenbach’s reaction to the award was filled with reminiscences: “It was an honor, it was deeply moving, and it was fun to go back in my mind through how much good fortune I’ve had from the former teachers I mentioned, to the people at Loomis, to the people I’ve known here. It was full of the best parts of life,” he said, adding that, “My Mom thought it was awesome, so that makes it all good.”

Students and faculty alike praise Mr. Frankenbach for all that he’s given the school. He is known across campus for his humor, wittiness, and constant display of positive energy. 

However, despite his cheeriness and optimistic disposition, Mr. Frankenbach is sincere about the education and well being of his students. Dr. Merrilee Mardon, the dean of faculty, said, “It isn’t all fun and games [in Mr. Frankenbach’s classes] — he pushes students to learn. And at the same time he always finds the humor, the sunny spot, even when he’s working with someone who is having a hard time with the work. He also has an uncanny ability to spot a student who benefits from the well placed nudge — his care for students includes holding standards.”

Mr. Frankenbach also possesses a unique ability to recognize students’ potential and encourage them to become the best version of themselves. 

In 2020, he was named an Outstanding Educator after receiving numerous nominations for the award from former students. 

He was also nominated by a former student for the Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Award at Amherst College in 2018. Mrs. Christina Cooper, a past winner of the Lufkin Prize and a longtime colleague and friend of Mr. Frankenbach said, “Mr. Frankenbach is a person who brings passion, and in bringing passion, he models for all of us what it is to commit your whole self to something. He teaches all of us that if you are going to do something, engage fully and do not just commit halfway.” 

Margie Bowen ’22, a member of Mr. Frankenbach’s advisory, said, “Mr. Frankenbach is always there to listen and give sage words of wisdom. I remember the first time that I met him, and instantly I knew that he was somebody who would encourage me and push me to be the best that I could be.”

Marisin McLain ’25, a student in one of Mr. Frankenbach’s Prep English classes, agreed. “Mr. Frankenbach is really good at telling students what they need to hear in a way that they will actually listen,” she said.  “He will tell you the difficult truth in a way that incorporates his humor, passion, and faith that he installs in his students. Mr. Frankenbach really helped me to gain my confidence and come to an understanding of my sense of self.”