Education plays a predominant role in contributing to the overall development of an individual. In today’s modern world, it is one of the biggest assets and an ultimate pathway towards success. However, earlier this picture was completely different due to lack of awareness and potential opportunities concerning education. People were unaware of the significance of schools and their spark not only to uplift the economy but most importantly, to create a better world for all of us.
Acknowledging this scenario, back in 1986, there was a group of parents from Barcelona, who realized the absence of schools they wanted for their children. Persuaded by the situation, their passion for education motivated them to lay the foundation of Benjamin Franklin International School (BFIS). The idea was to establish a school that has the potential to embrace the best of American education in an international environment that would promote inclusion, tolerance, innovation and new ideas. A place where students from all over the world could learn and grow from both an academic and human perspective.
Towards XXI Century Facilities
In 2016, the school inaugurated a new Elementary building that houses Kindergarten through 5th grade, with big, open and bright classrooms, library, integrated technology, and student-centered design furniture that fosters collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking; a new cafeteria in the basement and a rooftop playground.
During the spring of 2019, the school added another feather to its hat when the construction of a new Middle School Building initiated. It will include 21st Century science labs, a library, a design lab with cutting-edge design equipment & tools, and modular classrooms to utilize the spaces efficiently.
Currently, the school comprises three campuses – Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle and High School and each has its prime building, sports courts, and playground space. Its High School Building also has a Makerspace (a work area containing creative technologies and design software), two fully equipped science labs, a library and an auditorium for 350 people.
Today, with years of consistent endeavors, BFIS stands tall as one of the most prestigious International American schools in Spain and Europe, with 700 students from 52 different nationalities. The school offers an array of diplomas and certifications including the American High School Diploma, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, and the Spanish Baccalaureate Certificate.
Mr. Colin Boudreau is the Head of BFIS. He plays an essential role in bringing the community together alongside involving the stakeholders in all the major and strategic decisions of the school. He is instrumental in designing and executing a progressive strategic plan for the school, giving voice to alumni, founders, board members, students, parents, faculty, administrators and staff.
Colin’s acumen and the stakeholders’ wisdom has motivated more than 400 people from the BFIS community in collectively setting the strategic direction of the school. Under his aegis, this community outreach has devised four strategies that will be the roadmap for school until 2022:
- Provide opportunities that will strengthen and develop the character of its students, helping them to grow into well-rounded students and contributing members of our society.
- Recruit, evaluate, retain and develop top talented teachers.
- Offer a 21st Century curriculum, ensuring students will be ready to excel in a changing world.
- Foster even stronger relationships with an engaged school community.
This strategic plan plays a significant role in keeping the school’s vision alive in providing impactful learning and progressive curriculum.
An Engaged Community
The school community is one of the primary strengths of BFIS. It believes that community engagement is the key to student success and strives to build the framework of a caring, welcoming, and engaged community. At BFIS, students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators work together with the sole commitment to provide an environment that supports students’ needs and unlock thriving opportunities for them.
Recently, the Middle States Association re-accredited the school saying, “Many schools talk about being a community, but BFIS is the model of such a family community. From the moment we entered the school, we saw, heard and felt that this is a special place. It is a school that is vibrant with educational passion. We are in awe of the level of student, staff, and community participation in the life of this school.”
Success for all students
Motivating the students to climb the success ladder is a serious undertaking at BFIS which is truly highlighted in its mission statement; “Our purpose is to engage our diverse school community in the pursuit of educational excellence and success for all students.”
The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the Spanish Ministry of Education, and the Education Department of the Catalan government. It is also an active member of MAIS (Mediterranean Association of International Schools), IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization), and BISA (Barcelona International Schools Association).
The School strictly follows the US standards such as Common Core for Math and English Language Arts, Next Generation Science Standards, and the C3 Framework for Social Studies. Connecting the dots of meaningful curriculum and quality learning, the school leaves no stones unturned in bringing the best in each student. It drives them towards the centre stage of opportunities and empowers them to surpass every challenge coming their way. As such, it promotes and embraces student-centered and inquiry-based learning programs where ‘Questions’ are as much important as the ‘Answers’.
Since its first IB cohort in 2012, the school continues to exceed the IB average scores with a passing rate nearing to 100%. The significant achievements of their students in such a challenging academic program have gained them entry into a range of competitive colleges and universities worldwide.
The shifting trends in teaching and learning are responding to a new frontier that current students will face upon entering into employment. The present education model goes beyond teaching and learning foundational knowledge across the traditional subject areas. The school is preparing learners to approach complex problems through the development of competencies such as critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration.
BFIS is responding to the rapid changes in technology by including new literacies, such as digital literacy across the curriculum, and the meta-cognitive aspects of learning. The way that they approach their learning and aspects of character, such as perseverance, curiosity, self-management skills, leadership skills, and social and cultural awareness are all key components of the shifts in teaching and learning.
The School is continuously striving to promote the right utilization of integrated technology thereby, inspiring students to develop critical thinking skills and support continuous inquiry. This is achieved through its Makerspace area showcasing next-level technologies for Middle and High School students. This learning imperative is helping students work creatively with a variety of materials alongside traditional manufacturing tools and digital fabrication equipment.
Adding an Extra Plus
BFIS has taken successive steps to make learning relevant and fun via:
What I Need (WIN) Time – It’s a flexible period providing individualized support and enrichment opportunities to children in Elementary. Here Homeroom, EAL (English as an Additional Language) and Learning Support teachers work with students in small groups on the areas they lack.
FLEX Time – This program is an even mix of motivational and experiential learning based on student interests. The Middle and High School students have the privilege of choosing a topic of interest or to get additional support in one or more subjects. In Elementary, this is a rotating period where students can choose options in Math/Science and Arts/Wellness.
Talent Development Program – Backed by professionals, this program identifies the talent in students and strive to give it the finishing touch alongside building on their strengths and challenging them to maximize their individual potential.
Leadership Opportunities – The School provides different opportunities through Student Council, Student Ambassador Club, Going Green Club, Theater Club, Feminist Club, Allies Club, Debate Club, Yearbook Club, Book Club, Chess Club, Math Club, etc. Participating in these opportunities facilitates student engagement, development, and learning experiences that prepare students to be effective, inclusive, and innovative leaders.