Meet our Principal
As the Principal and Chief Executive of Birmingham Community Charter High School, I am proud to be part of a staff that believes in the unlimited potential of our youth. As an Independent Charter School, all stakeholders know that we have both the opportunity and responsibility to leverage our autonomy to tailor programs and support to the unique needs of our students. To this end, we will not default to doing things the way they've always been done. We will be relentless in our effort to create and refine systems that support historically neglected students, those motivated to achieve at the highest levels, and the large majority in the middle looking to be inspired and challenged. I'm so privileged to work with a faculty and support staff passionate about our collective effort to bring out the best in BCCHS students by encouraging their well-rounded development inside and outside the classroom.
The multitude of academic pathways and extra-curricular experiences are a unique strength of Birmingham. Unlike many high schools today, we continue to invest in the arts with the mission to inspire students to engage in meaningful learning activities in a safe, creative, and nurturing environment. 10 different visual and performing art pathways are available to our students as we challenge them to be critical thinkers who are productive members and leaders within our community. We also have a robust career pathway program that provides students with a multitude of options to explore from animation and patient care to culinary arts and graphic design. Additional learning opportunities are available in the city’s largest student body leadership program including over 35 clubs sponsored by Birmingham faculty members. This is not to be outdone by our championship athletic program that is one of the largest in CIF L.A. City Section. Academic, artistic, athletic, social-emotional, leadership, and service are all pillars of the Birmingham student experience.
Being well-rounded is our hallmark, but first and foremost, we’re an academic institution that provides a vast array of rigorous college and career preparation opportunities. Our graduation rate has increased to 96.4%, while we continue to expand rigorous program offerings for our students like advanced placement, concurrent college enrollment, and most recently National Education Equity Lab classes from Stanford, Yale, and other elite universities. Aligned to this increased focus on accelerated academic courses, Birmingham's A-G University Eligibility Rate has continued to rise in parallel with the California College/Career Readiness Indicator. The most recent data available lists our University Eligibility Rate at 77.5%, 26 percentage points higher than the state average. We’re also proud of the 16.6% of graduates that earned the California Seal of Biliteracy and the 50.8% of graduates that earned the Golden State Seal Merit Diploma.
Still recovering from the pandemic, we are determined at Birmingham to ensure that every student feels supported and cared for. Our faculty has received professional development in both the implementation of social-emotional learning activities and trauma-informed practices. We understand that our students need to feel safe and supported before they can begin to focus on their learning and academic growth. Our Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) and grade level academy MTSS teams have partnered to form a deep collaboration with four Birmingham psychiatric social workers that allow us to be uniquely proactive in addressing student mental health needs.
Parent engagement is another critical component of who we are. The pandemic challenged us to identify the most powerful communication platform we could find. We are now in our 4th year of Parent Square implementation. This online platform provides a high impact tool that allows us to engage in two-way communication with parents at both the schoolwide and classroom level. Through this application, we’ve seen parent engagement and feedback increase exponentially and remain high as we're able to identify over 1000 unique parent/guardians that communicate annually sending messages to our faculty and staff. After extensive surveying and meeting with parents in focus groups, the Parent Partnership Initiative was established. The goals are to address the following needs of our parents and guardians.
- Educational partners need greater and more detailed information in a comprehensible format regarding standardized scores for students.
- Education partners need greater and more detailed information in a comprehensible format regarding school funding and school budgets.
- Educational partners would like to have more follow-up after meetings or at the next meeting in response to questions and issues raised.
- Educational partners are overwhelmed by the volume of meetings and confused as to the purpose of some meetings and would prefer that the purpose of meetings be more clearly stated and that meetings be more streamlined, succinct and user friendly.
Some of our recent accomplishments include:
- 2022 California Pivotal Practice Award
- 2022 National Education Equity Lab School of Excellence
- 96.4% graduation rate and a 77.5% university eligibility rate
- 2023 College Board AP School Honor Roll
As a comprehensive high school, BCCHS offers numerous programs for our students:
- School of Advanced Studies (SAS) Program (approximately 600 students) offers both dual-credit college courses and 18 Advanced Placement courses.
- Students enrolled in college courses earn credit for Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) including over a dozen course offerings such as English, Psychology, and Political Science in partnership with Valley College.
- Partnership with National Ed Equity Lab to offer students with access to elite university courses from Stanford to Yale.
- Summer @ College program offers the opportunity for students to apply and receive scholarships to attend summer college programs at various elite California public and private universities.
- A week-long Freshman Bridge Program called Link Crew (a nationally recognized transition program) is provided for all incoming 9th graders with support from over 100 11th and 12th grade Link Leaders.
- Comprehensive Arts and CTE Programs for a balanced instructional program that emphasizes creativity and career preparation in addition to college readiness.
- 250:1 student to academic counselor ratio (state average is 527:1) not including 4 psychiatric social workers, 2 college counselors, 1 career counselor, 1 attendance counselor, and 1 designated instructional support counselor
- Weekly 60-minute Grade Level Academy Class that provides support for three core elements to every Birmingham student: community building to foster inclusiveness and belonging, mindfulness strategies to build resilience and perseverance, and skill development to foster the habits of mind of highly effective people.
- One of the largest athletic programs in the city of Los Angeles, boasting outstanding facilities including a swimming pool with an updated, dedicated locker room, a 10,000-seat football stadium and newly renovated field, a recently updated tartan track (used as an Olympic training facility), a lighted baseball field, two dedicated softball fields, a pristine soccer/lacrosse field, and an enormous practice/physical education grass field.
We could not offer all these programs without the commitment and dedication of Birmingham faculty and support staff or without the unwavering support of our student-focused Board of Directors. We collectively share the goal to continuously grow as educators to build on the strengths of our community and improve the quality of our programs to bring out the best in every BCCHS student. We are passionate about serving Birmingham students and families as a Title I high school located on a beautiful, clean, and safe campus!
Please consider scheduling a visit to our campus by arranging an appointment.
Ari Bennett, Birmingham Class of 1989