From the basketball court to the classroom, Malaka Frank is working to make an impact on area children — while also making women more confident.
Frank, a 2016 Franklin County High School graduate, was a standout basketball player for the Lady Flyers. She was the 11th Region Player of the Year her senior year and a member of the All Tournament 11th Region team. She was also defensive Player of the Year. In 2023, she was inducted into the FCHS Ladys Flyer Hoops Hall of Fame.
She received a full-ride scholarship to play basketball for Western Kentucky University. She played for a year and a half before a tear, for the second time, to the same meniscus in her knee caused her to have to take a break from basketball. The second semester of her sophomore year, she transferred to Georgetown College to be with a couple of her teammates from FCHS.
“I played basketball at Georgetown my whole junior year,” Frank said. “My senior year, I didn’t play due to (my injured knee).”
Frank comes from a family of athletes. Her mother, Ramonia (Robinson) Jones, played basketball and track and field at FCHS.
“A girl I went to high school with beat her record in shot put my senior year,” Frank said.
Her uncles Dale and Roni Robinson were also standout high school athletes. Her cousin Wan’Dale Robinson plays for the New York Giants.
Frank graduated in May 2020 with a degree in psychology. She started working toward a master’s degree in counseling at Kentucky State University, but quickly realized that wasn’t the direction she wanted to go in. She wanted to work with children.
After a seven-month stint working in state government, she became emergency certified to teach and began working in the fall of 2021 at Bridgeport Elementary School. She is now in her third year as a kindergarten/first grade special education teacher.
“I had no idea what I was doing, but I fell in love with it,” Frank said. “It’s not the easiest job but it’s rewarding and my kids love me. I can get on them and two seconds later they draw me pictures.
“I’ve always liked kids. I just didn’t know what route to go, but once I could get my foot into the school system, I could see if this is what I wanted to do.”
Being a teacher has come with a learning curve for Frank, but she said it’s all worth it when she sees the children learning.
“To see something click with them — it’s rewarding,” she said.
But the classroom isn’t as far as she wants to reach in making a change in children’s lives. She has also gone back to the court, but this time as a coach.
For the past few years, Frank has served as a coach for the Elkhorn Elementary School girls basketball team and the girls team at Elkhorn Middle School. This past year she just coached at EMS, where her niece, La’Kyiah Taylor, plays.
“I feel like I’m living through them,” Frank said. “I miss playing basketball. I wish I could still play, but my knee is done. It’s fun to give the knowledge of the game to someone who wants to hear it and wants to learn.
“Coaching middle school is fun because they’re still learning and deciding if they like it or not. It’s fun to just teach them.”
Along with teaching and coaching, Frank is also a makeup artist. Through her business, Faces by Frank, she does makeup for a variety of events such as weddings, formals, parties and children’s parties.
“I’ve always loved makeup,” Frank said. “I’ve been practicing on my friends since middle school.”
The makeup venture began when she needed something to occupy her time during the COVID-19 shutdown. She invested in a variety of makeup products and started taking classes. She learned about different products, skin prep, certain techniques, contouring, highlighting, concealer and eye shadow.
She said one of the hardest things to learn was how to do eyebrows.
“Eyebrows were the biggest thing. Eyebrows can make or break you.”
Frank said it takes patience to apply makeup, but once she learned certain techniques, she was able to work more efficiently.
“Some things that may have taken me an hour and a half to do in the beginning, may just now take me a half hour,” she said. “When I first started, I charged $15 a face. Now I charge up to $50.
“I’m still learning though. I’m not an expert.”
Frank said the thing she loves most about doing makeup is the confidence it brings.
“If I don’t feel the prettiest, I just put makeup on,” she said. “Makeup for me gives people a chance to feel their prettiest and I like to make people feel pretty and feel good about themselves.
“If they come sit in my chair and putting makeup on them makes them happy, it makes me happy.”
Helping people feel and be the best person they can be is something Frank is passionate about doing. So much so, that she recently signed on to be a mentor for the Wanda Joyce Robinson Foundation — Wanda is Frank’s grandmother.
“Growing up how I grew up, if you don’t have people to pour love into your communities they go south. A similar program helped me as a kid and I stayed out of trouble.”
Frank grew up in a single-parent household with two brothers.
“My mom taught me about adversity,” she said. “She always seemed to make a way.”
She also credits her former high school coach Joey Thacker as one who taught her many life lessons. One of the biggest lessons Frank has learned in life is how to overcome adversity.
“Keep working. That adversity is going to come and you have to keep on going. It’s OK to make mistakes. I made mistakes in high school basketball and in college, but I didn’t give up. After all of the tough battles I’ve had, I’m still where I’m at today — as a teacher and a leader.”
Frank doesn’t plan to remain idle for long. She sees herself moving further up in the world.
“I do want to do this, but I see myself going higher. I see myself still working with kids, but not necessarily in the classroom. I feel I can be effective with kids in the real world. I feel like I can do something with them outside of the classroom. I’m not going to stop here.
“I feel like I’m a role model and kids can look up to me. If they see me, they might feel like they can do whatever they want to do as they get older.”