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What Parents Are Saying
Mother from Fryeburg, Maine
We found Franklin Academy online while conducting a search for programs for children/adolescents with ASD. When I read the description of the typical Franklin student, it sounded just like my son and I knew that we had found a very promising program. We requested print literature and scheduled a visit. We met with Vince and Cindy who exude warmth and enthusiasm, understanding, and a real passion for the school and the program and the kids they serve. They knew exactly how to connect with Adam, who was extremely resistant. We began with Summer Sojourn to "test" it out, and we were absolutely hooked – even Adam. After attending Summer Sojourn, Adam couldn't even conceive of going back to public school, or anywhere else. He fit. And it felt good! We enrolled him for the fall, and we have every expectation that he will graduate from Franklin, with confidence and pride, in himself and his school. What really makes the difference is the people – you know our kids, you understand them and know how to communicate with them. And, you know how to educate them – what works, what doesn't – academically and for life. I truly believe that you save kids, families, and lives.
"He fit. And it felt good."
Mother of a Day Student from Old Saybrook, Connecticut
In my mind I imagined a place like Franklin Academy even before I knew it existed. This school gives these kids the environment, the support, and opportunities that so closely match what they need most. And they do it in a general sense and they then tailor it to each child’s unique needs in a way that I have not seen anywhere else. I don’t know what kind of kid I would have had if we didn’t have Franklin Academy here for us. Tom Hays told me probably during that first year when Ben came here as a freshman: “Belinda, you will not recognize your son when he walks down the aisle for graduation.” I am thinking – really? Okay, in my mind I am going to hold you to that Tom. But he’s right. From ninth grade to now coming to the end as a senior, Ben is a different person!
"Belinda, you will not recognize your son when he walks down the aisle for graduation."
Father from Memphis, Tennessee
The first time that John stepped on the campus he said: “Dad, this just feels right.” He loved the people, he loved the atmosphere, he loved the campus. So that was a great start to what turned out to be a very successful transition. For the first time in John’s life he might be in the right place at the right time.
"For the first time in John's life he might be in the right place at the right time."
Parents from New Canaan, Connecticut
Our daughter, Caitlin, who has NLD has been here 2 1/2 years and is graduating in June. She has just thrived both socially emotionally and academically. She took advantage of every opportunity that Franklin had to offer. She was president of the student body, manager of the school store, an RA, a intern in admissions, made lifelong friends, learned how to live on her own, and finally learned to accept herself for who she is and what she has to offer. The teachers and staff and headmaster at Franklin Academy look at every child individually, offer much emotional support, and take their jobs very seriously. What works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another. For Caitlin, Franklin changed her life. She was accepted into the college of her dreams, Emerson College, and is looking forward to using all the skills she learned at Franklin. She has shown us all just how brightly she can shine!!
"She has shown us all just how brightly she can shine!"
Mother from Putney, Vermont
I remember being very moved during the first year at Franklin as I realized that for the first time in his life, my son had friends and was a respected member of a community. That experience alone has made Franklin invaluable in my son’s life. He has learned not only how to make a friend, but how to keep one. He has learned to be a contributing member of a community; he has learned to be a leader.
"I realized that for the first time in his life, my son had friends and was a respected member of a community."
Father of a Day Student from Uncasville, Connecticut
Our daughter had a very difficult time with finding friends and focusing on academics, but the main reason why we decided to start looking at other schools was that our daughter pretty much just shut down. She wasn’t going to go to school anymore. When she started here three years ago, we saw an immediate change. She got up in the morning wanting to go to school, which was something we hadn’t seen in a long time. She felt like she had made friends for the first time ever, and that was huge.
"She felt like she had made friends for the first time ever, and that was huge."
Parents from Marblehead, Massachusetts
Franklin Academy was the best school we found to educate our son who has a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. When his academics at his previous school went from a 3.75 GPA to failing, we knew we needed to take action. The reason for the decline was due to constant harassing and bullying by the students, untrained teachers, and his social impairment impeding on his academics. After visiting numerous schools, both day and residential, Franklin hit the “nail on the head.” The profile of their typical student had our son’s name written all over it! We knew this was the place.
"The profile of their typical student had our son’s name written all over it!"
International Parents from Singapore
As an international family, the prospect of having our son away from us is a rather daunting realization. It is therefore vital for us to be reassured that having our son so far away will be worth it in all aspects. What do we want for our son? We want emotional behavior growth, self-confidence, self-advocacy, meaningful and lasting friendships, and educational growth with an opportunity for advancement in specialized fields. The school year is almost over, and we have experienced a lot of plusses and reassurances that Franklin Academy is a blessing for our son. Aidan has grown more confident, and a very distinct sense of maturity in his ways has become very evident about him. Aidan is a work in progress, and the progress he has achieved in this year alone is so much more than he would have reached if he were still in his old school in Hong Kong or the international school here in Singapore that we thought would be good for him.
"We have experienced a lot of plusses and reassurances that Franklin Academy is a blessing for our son."
Parents from New Canaan, Connecticut
Our son enrolled at Franklin Academy for the final two years of high school after we watched his educational success trajectory peak in 7th grade and plummet by sophomore year. He had been diagnosed with Aspergers and was gifted with a high IQ so his public school teachers considered him lazy rather than LD and his confidence and self-image suffered greatly. Facing social isolation, a deficit of executive function skills, and unachieved potential, our public school special education team told us that our brilliant son, who consistently tested in the top percentages on standardized tests, would need five years to graduate public high school with low level classes. Our search for alternatives, with the help of a psychologist and an education consultant, brought us to a school whose mission, environment, and culture seemed custom-made for our son’s needs and appeared able to intervene and reverse the failing trajectory.
"A school whose mission, environment, and culture seemed custom-made for our son’s needs."
Parents from Dallas, Texas
Our son started Franklin midway through 10th grade after years of struggling at many local private schools purportedly dedicated to helping kids with learning and social difficulties. He always tested in the “very superior” range of cognitive ability, but always struggled academically and socially. After a couple of months at Franklin he started to flourish in multiple areas, notably his attitude about learning, his discipline, his focus on his future, and his ability to make and keep friends.
"After a couple of months at Franklin he started to flourish in multiple areas."
Mother from Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey
The second day our daughter was there I asked her if she finally felt that she "FIT IN" and without hesitation she said, "YES!!!!!!!" I cried! This is the first time in her life she fits in somewhere. She is able to be the person who she is. She has friends!!! She doesn't sit alone at lunch anymore. She talks about a boy, who is her friend. She's HAPPY!!!! We wanted to come see her one weekend but she said not to because she was going out with friends!!!! We were so happy. Finding your school has been a blessing for our whole family.
"This is the first time in her life she fits in somewhere."
Father from Northbrook, Illinois
I was intrigued and puzzled to hear you state at the beginning of the year that the foundational principle of the School, from which everything else proceeds, is that it will be an absolutely safe place for everyone. That seemed to be desirable, basic, a little obvious, but not particularly profound. As I thought about it, and the well-demonstrated and intuitively obvious fact that learning and performance decline as stress increases, I began to get a sense of all the ways in which students were intimidated, deflated, confused, bullied, put down and generally made to feel as though they were less than they could be if they attended a large, traditionally run, "factory-type", "line them up and lecture at them", "anyone who doesn't get it is 'stupid'", school designed to teach to a mythical "neuro-typical" child. I get it: safe promotes all manner of learning.
"I get it: safe promotes all manner of learning."
Mother from Sag Harbor, New York
I think what makes Franklin so unusual is the experience that exists outside the classroom (especially if your kid has come from a special education school – they know how things can work inside a classroom, but not outside the classrooms). And so much of what NLD kids need occurs outside the classroom! The social/emotional/executive function component is without a doubt the area that I value the most about Franklin.
"The social/emotional/executive function component is without a doubt the area that I value the most about Franklin."
Parents from Santa Cruz, California
We chose Franklin because it was one of the only residential schools that was college prep, catering to bright students with learning challenges associated with high functioning ASD/NLD.
"Catering to bright students with learning challenges associated with high functioning ASD/NLD."
Mother from Newton, Massachusetts
The first moment that attracted me to your school was a phone call from Vince Schmidt in response to the initial salvo of informative documents. He had read the neuropsychological testing report. He had pure joy in his voice. He told me how impressed he was by my son's gifts before he mentioned the problems. After a long journey through crisis in which I heard from teachers and admissions officers constantly about what was wrong and impolite and depressed and psychotic and oppositional and inaccessible and hopeless, this was refreshing beyond words. Our visit to the school had a strength-based theme. For example, Aaron's favorite subject and greatest skill is in math, so we were given a meeting with Amy Bigelow to talk about the math education. I was also struck by how friendly and positive everyone was in ways that your admissions team cannot plan or stage. A number of students walked up to us spontaneously to tell us how much they liked the school. The goal seemed to be to sell Aaron and us on the school, not to take Aaron for a test drive. We were not rejected because Aaron could not make conversation, as had happened in other schools.
"He told me how impressed he was by my son's gifts."
Mother from Houston, Texas
You and your leadership team have created an environment in which all our kids feel they belong, believe they can succeed, and are pushed to grow. You have built a program of dedicated, wise, and skilled educators and professionals who have our kids interests at heart. I am truly grateful to have had Franklin as a part of our lives these past four years. We are so fortunate that we found Franklin and hope that one day all kids who struggle can find a Franklin of their own. Franklin Academy will always be a place we will support in whatever ways we can.
"I am truly grateful to have had Franklin as a part of our lives these past four years. "
Father from Weston, Massachusetts
I think the essence of what we found so appealing about the school is the specific focus on students with NLD/ASD/AS and the associated profile of needs, strengths, and challenges, the integrated approach (academic advancement, social skills, executive function, and emotional support) with a focus on building life skills and long-term self-reliance, and the strong sense of community among students, parents, and faculty – both on and off-campus.
"The specific focus on students with NLD/ASD/AS and the associated profile of needs, strengths, and challenges."
Parents from Waterford, Connecticut
The first thing that really excited me about Franklin was that it is ultimately a college preparatory school. College was always a goal for Ryan but we wondered how he would ever develop the skills necessary to achieve that. Of course, it was crucial that Franklin had such a focus on students with nonverbal learning differences. We can't believe how lucky we – and Ryan – are!
"We can't believe how lucky we – and Ryan – are!"
Advice from a Mother in Atlanta, Georgia
When I came to the first day of Summer Sojourn and the first day of school at Franklin, the message I heard over and over again from parents was "this school will change your kid's life and your life.” That's HUGE! Parent after parent started telling me their “before” and “after” stories, and these were amazing stories. You need to grab this information from the parents and have a page loaded with testimonials. I would also suggest sprinkling these statements and testimonials on the various pages of the site.
"This school will change your kid's life and your life.”
Mother from Brookline, Massachusetts
The moment I began to truly feel hope was when I clicked on the "Franklin Academy Parent Testimonials" video clip. Particularly striking was parent Frank Florio's description of how heartbreaking it was to get his daughter to leave the house and get on the school bus. I could have told you that story verbatim. We were not alone, after all. It was at that point that Franklin rose to the top of all the schools we considered. In fact none of the other schools even came close, in terms of a place that felt like a good fit. I could not wait to visit the school with Cathryn, but was filled with trepidation that reality would not meet my hopeful expectations. Our visit was a transformational experience for both Cathryn and me. Within the first few minutes of our campus tour, she was warmly greeted by two girls who urged her to come to Franklin. They had her smiling and laughing instantly. That may not sound like much to some, but this is a young girl who had never had a real friend. She fell in love with the idea of boarding school right then and there. My own experience was similar.
"Our visit was a transformational experience for both Cathryn and me."
Mother from Wethersfield, Connecticut
As Brian and I have been thinking these last few days about our daughter's time at Franklin, we marvel at the amazing growth and progress she has made. While there are bumps along any road, the program and so many people here have been outstanding every step of the way, always helping her to label the issues, identify goals to improve, holding her accountable, and celebrating her successes – with a consistent attitude of compassion and support. We feel very blessed that she could be here these four years and can't imagine her life without the positive impact you have all made on her. The assistance you've provided her has transformed her in ways that will last a lifetime, and we are very grateful. I better stop now before I make myself cry but we look forward to seeing her graduate and celebrating all of this with all of you.
"I better stop now before I make myself cry but we look forward to seeing her graduate."
Parents from Norwalk, Connecticut
When you awarded Emmeline the Odyssey Award at last year's graduation ceremony, you said it was given to the senior, who, "during a "Ulysses-like" journey through the years at Franklin Academy has been transformed -academically, socially, and emotionally - and has demonstrated the most growth among peers." We just wanted you to know that the journey has continued, and she is still out there exploring and transforming. Maybe someday she will make her way back to what Ulysses and the ancient Greeks called nostos, or home. But as parents, we could not be happier (or prouder) to see her out there in the world. Thank you for giving our daughter Emmeline an education and a life.
"There is no way we can thank Franklin Academy and its staff enough for all you have done for Emmeline and us."