GNO Collaborative Teachers

Benjamin Franklin High School Kicks Off New Year of Its Celebrated Gateway Program

Date: August 31st, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 15, 2018) – Benjamin Franklin High School will host a kickoff breakfast for the Gateway Program on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, at 7:30 a.m. in the atrium of the school, located at 2001 Leon C. Simon Drive. All principals or school representatives interested in learning more about the free Gateway Program are invited to attend.

The Gateway Program, which was piloted in the 2014-2015 academic year to help prepare eighth graders at three local middle schools for the rigors of high school math, has since expanded to include English and robotics and last year served 19 different middle schools in the city.

Gateway uses the Khan Academy platform, among other resources, and meets on Saturday mornings at Ben Franklin. Eighth graders in the city are welcome to attend free of charge, regardless of where they plan to attend high school.

“The Gateway Program is the gateway for high school success,” said Françoise McHugh, grants coordinator at Ben Franklin. “Often called the first great American, Benjamin Franklin believed in the power of curiosity to fuel creativity and the power of ingenuity to mother invention. This program seeks to emulate Mr. Franklin by helping to nurture that curiosity and prepare and propel the future generations – to build a pipeline of talent for middle school youth in English, science, technology, engineering, and math. We believe that exposing middle school students to robotics will encourage them to participate in STEM-based activities in the future while gaining awareness about STEM careers.”

Tiffany Lewis, the director of the Gateway Program and a member of the English faculty at Ben Franklin, agreed that the program has numerous benefits. “Gateway serves the needs of all students,” she said. “If a student has holes in his or her numeracy or literacy, we address those gaps. We also provide enrichment to the student who needs to be challenged. As a classroom teacher, I definitely see the benefits of a resource providing another layer of support for students.”

The program is funded through generous donations from Capital One ($10,000), Freeport-McMoran ($5,000), and Entergy ($1,000), along with school funds.

“Thanks to financial support from Capital One and our other donors, the Gateway Program has encouraged and enriched the educational experiences of eighth grade students from throughout Orleans Parish,” said Dr. Patrick Widhalm, the head of school at Ben Franklin. “We appreciate the partnership with all 19 of the middle schools we’ve worked with and like hearing that the Gateway students become leaders and models for other students in the classroom Monday through Friday. It is an extra commitment by these students and their parents, but we think that the benefits are multiplied.”

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Eve Peyton at
(504) 503-0062 or



About Benjamin Franklin High School 

Benjamin Franklin High School, New Orleans’ most outstanding public charter school, has been preparing students for success through academic achievement since its founding in 1957. Consistently ranked as a “top public high school in the nation” by U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, and Business Week, Franklin has received the highest School Performance School in Louisiana, making it the No. 1 public school in the state, year after year. Ben Franklin is repeatedly named a National Blue Ribbon School, producing Presidential and National Merit Scholars each year. The exceptional students, faculty, and staff at Ben Franklin are the best and the brightest in New Orleans. For more information, please visit

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