Named for Lasallian educator St. Benilde Pierre Romancon, who was considered an extraordinary and innovative educator, the Benilde Program is based on a model developed almost two decades ago at another Lasallian school, St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C. The program was recognized in 2000 and 2004 with a SPiCE Award (Special People in Catholic Education) from the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) and the Lynch School of Education at Boston College as one of the 10 best Catholic education programs in America. Subsequently, the program was adopted at schools around the country, although often under a different name. The Benilde Program at Saint Raphael Academy began in 2014, and was recognized at the Lasallian Association of Secondary School Chief Administrators (LASSCA) Annual Conference.
Students in the Benilde Program at Saint Raphael Academy study the same curriculum, attend the same classes, and meet the same requirements as their peers. Benilde students may take classes out of sequence, if it is in their best interest to do so; receive daily coaching by a learning specialist; learn advanced study skills, test-taking techniques, and other strategies for maximizing academic success; and study meta-cognition (or "learning about learning").
Other accommodations may be made as necessary so that their learning style will more likely fit with the academic presentation at Saint Raphael Academy.
Doreen Engel is the director of the program at Saint Raphael Academy, as well as the designer and original director of the program at St. John's. Mrs. Engel has a Master's degree in special education from Catholic University of America, and is the former principal at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Academy in Central Falls. Previously, she was director of special education at the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., supervising programs for 100 area Catholic schools. She often speaks at national conferences and has had articles published in trade journals about the Benilde Program.
Parents should determine if their son/daughter:
- Has a sincere interest in becoming a part of the Saint Raphael Academy family and the Benilde Program.
- Has had a psycho-educational evaluation completed in the last three years by a licensed psychologist which indicates that the student has a diagnosed learning difference, an IEP, or other documentation of a learning difference.
- Has demonstrated the ability to learn in a classroom of approximately 25 students.
- Can handle the demands of a college preparatory curriculum.
- Has not demonstrated any emotional or behavioral problems that would significantly interfere with classroom learning.
Is interested in taking responsibility for “learning how to learn.”
Furthermore, the Benilde Program at Saint Raphael Academy is prepared to assist students who are on track to becoming college students.
As previously mentioned, students in the Benilde Program study the same curriculum, attend the same classes, and meet the same requirements as their peers at Saint Raphael Academy. Thus, their diploma and transcripts are identical to their peers. They are also completely involved in the extra-curricular experiences of the school. Many Benilde graduates go on to graduate college and begin successful careers.
There is an additional annual fee of $1,500 for the program. Students may choose to enroll for one year at a time, but may continue in the program as needed all four years of high school.
In order to participate in the Benilde Program, students must apply to Saint Raphael Academy and the Benilde Program separately. Students are identified through the school application process; parents are encouraged to describe any challenges their student has that may indicate a strong match to the program. Students in the past who have had the following types of learning needs have shown to benefit most: ADHD, dyslexia, and executive function disorders; this list is not exclusive, so please contact Mrs. Engel to further discuss your student’s situation.
As part of the application process, students must submit a psycho-educational evaluation and other information (i.e. Individual Education Plan, 504 Plan, or other documentation) as needed so that their learning needs may be completely understood.
Space is limited to 10 percent of each grade’s student body. Interested parents may contact Mrs. Engel to discuss the student’s appropriateness for the program. Parents are also strongly urged to attend an information session in the fall prior to their son’s/daughter’s application for admission. (Specific dates will be scheduled in the fall.) Contact Mrs. Engel if you have a conflict or if you have additional questions.