Success Stories

Read about some of our Franklin Academy alumni and also parent testimonials.

Alumni Highlights

Jacob - Class of 2018Jacob – Class of 2018

What was your school experience like before Franklin Academy?
At my other school, the teachers didn’t understand how to teach me. So I got bored in my classes and messed around a lot. I had a couple of friends that stuck with me. It was a difficult situation. I didn’t understand social cues and situations. My other school got so bad that my mom was homeschooling me and researching other schools.

What was different about this school from your old school?
Franklin Academy had smaller numbers of students in each class. All my teachers at Franklin Academy knew how to teach me and I got to know them as teachers, but also people that would listen to my concerns and help me whenever I needed it.

What are the things that you liked?
I enjoyed my classes with Mr.Mike, Ms.Sarah, and Ms.Kelsey. I got to know about Mr. Mike, Mr. Greg, and Mr.Paul. They taught me in my classes and also helped me become more independent.

What are the highlights from your time at the school?
The school carnival where I got to throw whipped cream at the teacher’s faces. Also, I participated in flag football, basketball, and track & field.

What are you up to now?
I’m starting my second year at Eden Prairie Transitions. I’m also starting my 3rd semester in Outdoor Motorsports and Marine Repair. I’ve been at my current job at Kwik Trip for a little over a year.

I miss the friends I made at Franklin Academy. I still keep in touch with my friends from Franklin Academy. I go bowling and to the movies with them. They are my lifelong friends.

How did Franklin Academy help set you up for the success you are experiencing now?
Social skills were the most important. I can walk into a classroom with no worries about talking to people. I’ve become more independent with tasks and no longer rely on friends to be around me at all times.

Gaby - Class of 2016Gaby – Class of 2016

What was your school experience like before Franklin Academy?
Before Franklin Academy, I didn’t have any close friends because it was very hard for me to socialize and make connections, which made me very sad and lonely. I didn’t get invited to many social activities for fun and that was hard. My mom noticed I was lonely and that I needed new social opportunities with kids that I could connect with and she started to look for schools that could help me. She then found Franklin Academy. I remember the day I first came to Franklin Academy for a tour. I met the nicest kids, teachers, and staff.

What was different about this school from your old school?

I felt very welcomed, and happy, and I could finally make a connection. There was also a good learning environment at Franklin Academy because at my old school I would work in a classroom with a bunch of kids and a para next to me which didn’t make me feel good or independent. The difference between both schools is that Franklin Academy met my needs by having quiet classrooms and I was learning at the level I needed to learn at instead of sitting in a big classroom with a para. I know I needed support but I also wanted to be independent. I ended up beginning at Franklin Academy in 2010.

What are the things that you liked?
I started to make great friends over the years and have great connections. I started getting invited to fun activities and for the first time I started to feel accepted and fit in. I have the most amazing friends who have been so good to me and taught me how to make my social skills better and how to deal with conflict in a positive way.

The things I liked the most at Franklin Academy were the students, families, teachers, field trips, and the social experiences. All that made me feel wanted, accepted and that I could learn. This all helped me become more independent. I started helping more out at home, understanding routines, and doing things more for myself and I felt happy.

What are the highlights from your time at the school?
Some of the highlights from my time at Franklin Academy were Baker Near Wilderness. We had a campfire, we were all together and we all had fun. I also liked being on the Franklin Academy basketball team because I got to play with my friends and being on the team made me feel happy. Another highlight was the school dances where we got to dance and have fun together.

What are you up to now?
Right now I’m in a great place in my life. I attend Minnesota Independent Community College and I just completed my first year. I’m learning how to cook, clean, and be independent. I have many friends and a lot of them were made at Franklin Academy. I spent my time in the summer volunteering at the Westonka food shelf and at Franklin Academy. I’m looking forward to my second year at MICC where I will be studying and learning about health services. Every day I’m learning new things and new experiences and I’m grateful for the people who have helped me get to this place.

How did Franklin Academy help set you up for the success you are experiencing now?
The teachers and staff have made a difference in my learning because they gave me the tools I needed to learn. They gave me small group instruction and they were very patient. They taught me social skills and life skills. That helped me become independent and I felt successful with my learning.

Peter – Class of 2014

What was your school experience like before Franklin Academy?

  • They were really fast-paced.
  • It was hard to move that fast.

What was different about Franklin Academy from your old school?

  • I would go to the resource room for an hour a week.
  • At Franklin Academy the teachers (Ms. Dana, Ms. Catherine, Ms. Rachel) were really helpful.

What are highlights from your time at Franklin Academy?

  • Special Olympics Basketball, especially the tournaments.
  • The Formal Dances, we got to dress up.
  • Baker Near Wilderness – there were places to watch all the birds and spend time outside.

What are you up to now?

  • I graduated from MICC.
  • I am working as a cashier and stocking counters.
  • I am living on my own in an apartment.
  • I work-out. I just got 5th place in a 5k!
  • I go to social outings with friends.

Fun facts:

  • My go-to at Taco Bell used to be the crunch wrap supreme before they got rid of it.
  • 7,000 transactions come through the building I work at every day.
  • My Eagle Scout project was alphabetizing the library at Franklin Academy.

Peter’s first day of school at Franklin Academy and a current photo. Look at how far he has come!

Peters First Day

Peter in the Present

Parent Testimonials

Here’s what a few of our parents have to say about Franklin Academy

It seems overly dramatic to say that Franklin Academy gave me my child back. But it did. My daughter has a significant processing difference and ADHD. Not only was the world difficult to decode but it also was a constant source of frustration as she could not filter out the extra information to concentrate on decoding the things that she could process. She would become very frustrated and run away – physically and emotionally – from anything that was difficult for her to attempt. As a parent, this was heartbreaking to watch. It also made doing ordinary things, like going to the grocery store, somewhat challenging. As I write, we are nearing the end of our first year at Franklin Academy. She has begun to read independently (SIX reading levels in a year), can decode numbers, and I no longer feel trapped by her needs. The rest of the world now can see the child I have always known was there, and my happy girl is back.

– Michelle Williams, parent

Sam was identified at 2 years of age with pervasive developmental delays and learning disorders. After daycare, he started ECSE and went on to Special Education programing through the Minneapolis Public Schools. While we always appreciated the teachers he had, he consistently stayed about two years behind in reading and other school topics, and didn’t seem motivated to improve. And while he liked the social aspects of school, his interaction with his friends never extended beyond the school day.

We struggled to find a school or school district that we thought would help until we went to an open house at Franklin Academy and were wowed by what a good fit it could be. By the time we stepped out of the building (and with two weeks before applications were due for the next school year) we were more than willing to invest in Sam’s education for his school year.

Now, towards the end of his first year at Franklin Academy, we see a huge improvement in Sam. His reading has improved tremendously, and we notice little things like him reading fortunes in fortune cookies. He has made friends and regularly has playdates with his classmates. Beyond the school day, Franklin Academy does a great job with special after-school programming like coding, Lego and Minecraft clubs that Sam and his friends love. The school has a clear and well-thought-out mission and plan for growth, and all the teachers and staff are genuinely committed to the mission of the school and, most importantly, to the students. We couldn’t be happier.

-Lisa Villalta and Perry Leo, parents

Our son is a unique young man with a variety of learning disabilities and developmental delays. He muddled through his elementary years not quite fitting in with mainstream students, but also not quite fitting within the special education programming. When he was in fifth grade, we began to notice that he was losing self-confidence as he began to recognize how learning was more difficult for him. We discovered Franklin Academy after it was recommended to us by one of our son’s practitioners. It seemed too good to be true on paper and we are so grateful to discover it has been everything we hoped for. Our son bounds out of the car in the morning, excited to see his buddies and go to school. He is able to receive services like OT and speech therapy within the course of his school day, making our over-scheduled lives that much easier. Best of all, our son is a confident sixth-grader who now takes pride in his successes.

-John and Candace Randle, parents

Now that my sons have been at Franklin Academy for nearly two years, I can see what a difference the school has made for them. The quiet, calm, and peaceful atmosphere has allowed them to focus in the classroom instead of using up all of their mental energy on tuning out distractions.

For one of my sons, the ability to work at his own level has allowed for a natural curiosity to emerge and has cut down on some of the frustration and anxiety that he used to experience with reading.

Because social and emotional learning is emphasized throughout the day, my boys have made great gains as well. One son has gone from being quiet to sharing ideas and stories readily. This year for the first time I hear stories from both of them about their “friends at school” and I hear recaps of conversations that took place with other students and teachers.

Every afternoon when I pick them up from school I’m barely out of the parking lot before they are clamoring to tell me what specialist they had or about something that they had fun with at school. I love that they are excited about school and I’m glad to see them feeling proud about their accomplishments.

I’m thankful for the kind and caring teachers and all of the staff that make Franklin Academy a great experience for my sons.

– Allison Barosko, parent

Our son came to Franklin Academy after a long school career in public schools, and as he grew older, we noticed that his academic needs were met less and less and he was marginalized more and more. We knew a change needed to happen, and that is when, fortuitously, we found out about Franklin Academy. I think it was the student visit, when our son left smiling and happy and calm, that is when we knew we had made the right choice. His transition was much easier than we anticipated, mostly due to the amazing staff and teachers at Franklin Academy. Now he is sailing through reading levels, and doing cool STEM experiments and, as a shock to us, loving his music and art classes. I really could never say enough about the awesome teachers and the calm, caring environment that accepts all kids as potential learners, who all have a unique and positive path forward – being part of a school that values your child, that is the ultimate goal and we feel lucky to have found that in Franklin Academy. Our son is thriving academically and growing socially, and perhaps the best part is he no longer dreads school, no more morning battles! We are happy we found Franklin Academy and would recommend it to any parent looking for a school that accepts all learners, meets them where they are at, and helps them grow.

-Clare Davis, parent

We have a child who started in the 3rd grade at Franklin Academy. School overall was not a positive experience in the past. Anxiety, lack of friends and difficulty learning in the situation given were all concerns. The most immediate change we experienced with the move to Franklin Academy was a decrease in anxiety. We walked him in on the first day and ever since he has been walking in himself. We saw this as a small step in the right direction. He now looks forward to seeing friends every day, and it is no longer an issue to get through the front doors of school or to make it through the day. He is now developing a positive relationship with school, and to make it even better we were able to wean him off anti-anxiety medication over time.

Our child has always been interested in peers and friendships but needed the self-confidence boost and social support to further develop the friendships. As our time progressed with Franklin Academy, we were so happy to see this develop more and more. Franklin Academy’s consistent and patient support to the social aspect of school really has helped him develop his friendships. We have been lucky to be able to host so many play dates at our home and to get to know other families in our school community.

Academics are a concern in our family. We are definitely looking towards the future, making sure we are planning and keeping all of our children in a positive learning environment so they will be ready for their future. Now that anxiety is under control and the social piece is developing, we are seeing learning happening. We understand it takes time in a new school and it takes time to individualize how kids learn best. However, as a family, we are experiencing new and great achievements within and outside of school. There are still academic areas that are being looked at and tweaked throughout the year but that is why it has been so key to have an individualized learning plan.

It was a big decision to move our child once again from school to another school. However, looking back at past experiences and now, we are thankful for Franklin Academy, and very grateful that we were able to make the change. Our family will be forever grateful for this option. We love that he is experiencing his childhood/school in many ways that are the same to other children, i.e.. play dates, after-school clubs, school projects such as research presentations, plays, science projects and community field trips. Franklin Academy has really changed our son’s outlook in so many positive ways. We look forward to our future relationship with Franklin Academy as we help our child figure school and life out.

-Sherri Knopik, parent

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