Our School's Identity
Over the spring and summer of 2022, the Benjamin Franklin High School Board engaged stakeholders in discussions about issues of inclusion, the school’s vision, and how it is advancing its mission. This process helped to inform a broader strategy and chart how the school will serve its students and community.
This was an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on our past and present and envision our future. We were able to form a clearer picture of how you as students, alumni, parents/guardians, faculty/staff, and general community felt; what various perspectives and lived experiences were; and ultimately, what the school’s current strengths are, as well as issues that the Board should address.
After we concluded an information-gathering process, the results were presented to the Board on Aug.18, 2022. The stakeholder advisory group identified actions to address each of the common findings, and the Board unanimously approved those "Actions" on March 16, 2023.
In 2021, the Orleans Parish School Board determined that the name “Benjamin Franklin” did not meet its revised policy for building names. For most of his adult life, Ben Franklin enslaved people. Accordingly, his name on school district facilities was removed by vote of the OPSB. The facility housing Benjamin Franklin High School was renamed for Katherine C. Johnson in honor of her legacy and lifetime achievements as a mathematician and NASA scientist. NASA has noted her historical role as one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist in addition to her critical and pivotal role in the success of the first U.S. crewed space flights.
Benjamin Franklin High School’s Board of Directors seized this moment as a catalyst to explore issues of inclusion, our values, identity, and legacy as a high-performing public school and how best to fulfill our mission of preparing students of high academic achievement to be successful in life.
Through this process, broader and more meaningful than a name, we are actively engaging many stakeholders, including students, faculty, alumni, and others.
Leveraging dedicated grant funds, the Board hired an experienced consultant, K. Allen Consulting, to lead our community through this stakeholder engagement process and help to inform the charter school’s broader strategic plan.
A diverse group of BFHS stakeholders was assembled to comprise a BFHS Stakeholder Advisory Group and provide insight on the process, specifically advising on survey questions, messaging, and focus group preparations. This group is composed of BFHS students, parents, alumni, board members, and faculty/staff. Members are as follows:
•Wayne Collier, Alumnus & Parent of Alumni
•Alea Cot, Board President & Parent of Alumna
•Maria Do, Alumna
•Liz Faul, Board Member, Alumna, & Parent of Current Student & Alumnus
•Dana Henry, Parent of Current Students
•Abigail Hu, Current Student
•Charmaine Cooper Hussain, Board Member & Parent of Alumnus
•Molly Irland, Teacher
•Donald Jackson, Assistant Principal, Parent of Alumnus & Current Student
•Dr. Alexis Parent-Ferrouillet, Board Member & Alumna
•Todd Ragusa, Board Marketing Committee Chair
•Stanley Taylor, Alumnus
•Mitchell Turnbough, Board Member & Parent of Current Students
•Victoria Valdary, Current Student
•Dr. Patrick Widhalm, Head of School
•Kate Youngblood, Alumna & Teacher
The Stakeholder Advisory Group advised on the development of surveys and provided invaluable insights to guide the stakeholder engagement process.
Through surveys and focus groups, we collected both anecdotal evidence and hard data on the lived experiences of key groups of our school community, including students, alumni, parents, and faculty.
The results of this process have been summarized in the Stakeholder Engagement Report.
Where We Are Now & What's Next
At the end of the Community Engagement Process, the Stakeholder Advisory Group developed actions to address each common finding, and the Board approved those Actions on March 16, 2023. They include a variety of steps with milestones and deadlines and can be found here.