Warren Mayor Doug Franklin once wanted to be an astronaut. He smiled and listened as students in Nicole Laprocina's second-grade class at Jefferson PK-8 shared their dreams.
Franklin spent time with the students Wednesday as part of the Early College Awareness Outreach Program launched by the Mahoning Valley College Access Program. Students in both Warren and Youngstown are included in the program, which strives to encourage young students to pursue a higher education.
Franklin read a book about life after high school titled "I Know I Can." The book is produced by the College Access Program in Columbus.
Hands go up as Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, top center, talks to second-grade students at Jefferson PK-8 School on Wednesday.
After the reading, he and Warren City Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold led students in a discussion and question-and-answer session about college and career choices.
"There's a lot of law enforcement in here," Franklin said after multiple students expressed a desire to work for the FBI. Other choices included architects, art teachers, police officers, basketball players, artists, doctors, teachers and even ninjas.
Some kids couldn't decide on just one profession. "An artist and a teacher," said one student.
"You can be both," Franklin assured her before the next student sang out, "A singer and the president!"
To those who weren't so sure what they wanted to do, Franklin said, "It's all right if you don't know. You've got a lot to choose from and a lot of time to do it."
During the talk, Franklin was asked how he became the mayor of Warren.
"I went to college," he began, explaining that he earned a degree at Kent State University before returning to the Warren area.
"I had to be elected by your parents. Hopefully, most of them voted for me," he said with a smile.
"All of you guys are going to be successful. You're going to be excellent citizens," he said, and reminded them that he had to work very hard to become a mayor.
But hard work doesn't have to be a bad thing.
"You can have fun when you're learning," Franklin said.
Student Cheyenne Frost said she enjoyed Franklin's visit and wants to be a science teacher.
(I learned) that when you go to college, you need to study science," she said.
Fellow student Dominic Jackubec had multiple interests, including an architect and a ninja. He said both of his parents went to college and help him with his homework - especially math.
"If I make a mistake, they have to help me," he said.
Laprocina said Franklin's visit shows her students the importance of education.
"I think this also gives them a role model to look up to. The whole time I was thinking, 'Wow, what a great role model to have in our classroom,'" she said.
Franklin said spending time with children is the best part of his job.
"I always learn when I'm around kids, that's the neat thing about my job. It reinforces my belief that they really want to do the right thing the right way," they just need the right guidance, he said.