Our School's Identity

Overview

The Benjamin Franklin High School Board is engaging stakeholders in discussions about issues of inclusion, the school’s vision, and how it is advancing its mission. This process will inform a broader strategy and help chart how the school will serve its students and community.
 
This is an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on our past and present and envision our future. We are forming a clearer picture of how you as students, alumni, parents/guardians, faculty/staff, and general community feel; what various perspectives and lived experiences are; and ultimately, what the school’s current strengths are, as well as issues that the Board should address.

 

We recently concluded an information-gathering process, and the results were presented to the Board on Aug.18, 2022. Now, the Board and stakeholders are considering the findings and determining next steps in the process. 

Context

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 Committee 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:
 

  1. Molly Irland, Teacher

  2. Stanley Taylor, Alumnus

  3. Maria Do, Alumna

  4. Donald Jackson, Assistant Principal, Parent of Alumnus and Current Student

  5. Abigail Hu, Student

  6. Dana Henry, Parent of Current Students

  7. Alea Cot, Board President, Parent of Alumna

  8. Wayne Collier, Alumnus, Parent of Alumni

  9. Todd Ragusa, Board Marketing Committee Chair

  10. Dr. Patrick Widhalm, Head of School

  11. Dr. Alexis Parent-Ferrouillet, Board Member, Alumna
     

The Stakeholder Advisory Committee 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

The Stakeholder Engagement Report was presented to the Board on Aug. 18, 2022, and the Board is now considering the findings and, with stakeholder participation, planning next steps. 

 

If you would like more information, please contact bfhslastakeholderengagement@gmail.com or Board Member Todd Ragusa at tragusa@bfhsla.org.