The first annual Heart of the School Awards took place at the Hippodrome Theatre on Monday. Among the 11 finalists and 5 winners was Christopher Battaglia (pictured), principal at Benjamin Franklin High School, one of OSI’s “High Value High Schools.”
As part of the High Value High Schools program, Battaglia’s school is working with the Safe and Sound Campaign on the YouthBuild at Ben Franklin (YBBF) project, an initiative to prepare youth aging out of foster care for successful adulthood. Ben Franklin exemplifies the ideals of a High Value High School with its emphasis on eliminating barriers that students face in receiving an education. Upon realizing that many of his students were dropping out of school due to the demands of parenting children, Battaglia went to great lengths to open an on-site day care center at Ben Franklin for those students who are parents. The parents of the 17 children enrolled in the onsite day care center are now track to complete their education and successfully transition into adulthood.
The event, co-hosted by another OSI grantee, the Fund for Educational Excellence, recognized exceptional principals who have demonstrated “exemplary innovation, execution, and leadership.” OSI’s Education and Youth Development Program also supported philanthropist and entrepreneur Paul Wolman in designing an awards theme that would celebrate the devotion and creativity our great principals infuse into a school community to make their schools great.
Meshelle Foreman Shields, a 2010 OSI Community Fellow who created “GoalDIGGERS: The Sankofa Project” for young women of African descent in Baltimore to explore their identities and heritage through anthropological research and DNA testing, co-emceed the event.
OSI-Baltimore has worked with the Fund for Educational Excellence to create four High Value High Schools – engaging, supportive and accelerated high school options in Baltimore City that would significantly increase graduation rates and post-secondary success, particularly for African-American male students. By providing flexible scheduling, job-embedded learning, accelerated credit accumulation, credit recovery, and other features, High Value High Schools are designed to respond to the needs and goals of high schools students.