Yvonne Franz Earns Prestigious Recognition


The North Carolina Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired named Yvonne Franz the 2019 Rachel Rawls Award winner for her outstanding work with visually impaired students. 

“I am honored to receive this award from my peers, said Franz.  “I love what I do, and the children of Cleveland County.”

Franz, a lead teacher of the visually impaired for Cleveland County Schools, received the distinguished recognition specifically for her unique achievements, continually exceeding expectations, innovative approach to education, positive influences, and extensive collaboration.

“She is an outstanding professional, role model, teacher, and colleague,” expressed Dr. Nellie Aspel, Exceptional Children’s Director for Cleveland County Schools.  “As a very energetic encourager and mentor, she has a wealth of knowledge, and is an extremely valuable resource for our team and state.”

Franz works directly with supportive outside agencies to provide the best possible services to students. Her most notable collaborative partners include The National Federation for the Blind, The Early Learning Sensory Support Program, The Division of Services for the Blind, and the LION’s club.

“Franz advocates for children and youth with visual impairments and works diligently to advance her field of study,” added Aspel.  “She is truly unique and a technological innovator.”


She is known in the community for understanding students with multiple disabilities and visual impairment, including deaf-blindness. She is a certified braille transcriber and is a leader in the area of assistive technology. Her research as has been published on notable websites such as the Perkins School for the Blind.

“No one can be successful in their career without the support of their administrators, and peers,” added Franz. “In my 42 years in the field, the last 13 years working for Cleveland County schools have been the most supportive and rewarding years of my career. I could not have achieved this award without the wonderful people around me.”

Franz was also the recipient of similar awards such as the Jolene Litton ABCD Award (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty), for effectively modeling the use of technology and encouraging unique and innovative technology projects and practices within her school, as well as the American Printing House for the Blind Scholar Award for her outstanding work in the field of blindness and visual impairments.

“We are most fortunate to have Yvonne Franz working in our schools, in our community, for the betterment of our students,” said Dr. Stephen Fisher, superintendent of Cleveland County Schools. “She makes a difference in the lives of our students every day, and I believe her work extends far beyond our county lines.”

 About Rachel Rawls
Dr. Rachel Rawls was a longtime advocate for children and adults with visual impairments in NC.  Her lifelong career working with individuals with visual impairment made her renown as an expert in the field. Because of her contribution to the field of visual impairment, the Rachel Rawls Award was first introduced in 1992. Now, over 25 years later, the North Carolina chapter of AER continues the tradition of honoring an individual who exemplifies unique achievement in the field of work with the blind and visually impaired.

Greg Shull