We asked Franklin Center board member Leah Schelin about her son’s Bode’s experience at Franklin Academy in 10th and 11th grade.  Many thanks to Leah for sharing their family’s story!


Q: Your son was in high school when you joined Franklin Academy. What led you to look for a different educational solution at that point?

We knew we wanted to move Bode from public school to a different environment after the pandemic.  He had struggled to keep up socially and academically prior to those tough couple of years, but afterward the divide seemed to grow exponentially.  In many ways, his self- awareness was growing, but it meant that for the first time he was highly conscious of his differences, and they were leading to increased isolation.  More than anything, we wanted to find an environment where he could connect with peers, feel like part of a community, and build skills that would allow him to become a more capable learner.

Q: How was the experience at Franklin Academy different? 

At Franklin Academy, we found that both curriculum and the environment were engineered for kids with social and learning differences, and most importantly, much of that engineering resulted in a flexibility and configurability that centered on Bode’s needs.

In the public school setting, Bode might have 2-3 individuals specifically trained to support him and his unique needs.  At Franklin, the team – from top to bottom – creates a culture around our special kids.  From the administration to the reception desk to the custodial team to the teachers and therapists, our kids are immersed in a culture that celebrates them, supports them, and to be blunt – normalizes them at a critical point in their development.

Q: Can you share any examples of your student’s success at Franklin?

There were some obvious changes and progressions that we observed in Bode during his time at Franklin.  Bode has always shown promise in areas like math and science, but when he struggled with a subject he would grow quickly frustrated and abandon his efforts.  In previous settings Bode would be removed from his academic classroom to work on self-regulation.   At Franklin, coaching around self-regulation was delivered right alongside teaching of the subject matter, and that made all the difference.

For the first time, Bode as a learner and we as his parents were able to identify his strengths and begin to cultivate them.  We also began to see Bode develop personal strengths like empathy and leadership. He began to see that he could be a role model for younger kids or kids less developed in a skill or behavior.  That built in him a confidence we had never witnessed before and helped enable him to have the confidence to pursue employment and engage in new social situations.

Q: How has it made a difference to you, as a parent, to be part of the Franklin Center community?

You’ll hear this from most Franklin families, but it bears repeating.  Joining the Franklin community allowed for a level of calm and predictability for our family that we’d long forgotten and thought we might never regain.  Where we might expect to hear from school about behavioral issues two to three times per week in previous settings, we began to hear once or twice a month.  Bode was settling in, feeling safe, and truly learning.

After two years at Franklin, something surprising happened – we found ourselves wondering whether Bode should return to public school.  We never anticipated this move when we began at Franklin; we were certain this was the environment that he would require until he completed high school.  The Franklin team helped us evaluate this option and supported our decision to move Bode back for his senior year.

Bode learned self-regulation to an extent that he was able to function in a mainstream classroom, and he left Franklin with both the credits and academic readiness to earn all As and Bs in his senior year.  To be clear, for many kids and families Franklin will be the right place for their entire academic journey, but it speaks to Franklin’s deep focus on the individual that Bode’s journey was allowed to be just that – Bode’s journey.

Q: What’s one thing you would want to share with parents in a similar situation?

The work that is done at the Franklin Center and Franklin Academy is really, really hard.  While there are emerging accreditations and evolving protocols, we don’t live yet in a world that has fully embraced an agreed upon set of standards for caring for and teaching our neurodiverse community.

Franklin does two things really well:  1) they are constantly looking to improve their practices by watching and learning from other institutions and the best thinkers in the field on a national level, and 2) they understand deeply that they have in their community some of the most experienced, committed, and creative people to help them improve – Franklin parents.  Get involved, contribute, ask questions, ask for what you think your child needs – they will listen, and you’ll make Franklin Center better for your student and for all students.

To find out if Franklin Academy is a good fit for your student, reach out and schedule a conversation.

If your student has already completed high school, we have options for successful independence through flexible programs at Franklin Capstone.