In addition to their teaching experience at the Emory Reading Center and Catch-Up School, Drs. Smethurst and Burdette both had taught at Lovett School, as well as in college and at several independent schools in Georgia and Texas. They helped to create the Emory/Oxford Prep Program, the Emory Medical School's Minority MCAT Program, and the Medical School's Board Review Program. Interestingly, besides their work with older students, both Dr. Burdette and Dr. Smethurst had preschool teaching experience as well, and both had been involved with Montessori schools. Both founders have significant experience with helping students avoid or recover from school failure and helping excellent students achieve success more efficiently.
Drs. Smethurst and Burdette had realized that there was an unmet need in the Atlanta area for a non-profit mainstream school that offered quality individualized instruction in a caring, informally progressive setting, specifically devoted to students who wanted to succeed. Ben Franklin Academy was founded to meet this need.
The school was incorporated as an independent, non-profit school in November, 1987, and officially opened in June, 1988, with 12 students enrolled in its summer program. Since then, Ben Franklin Academy has increased its enrollment to approximately 125 students a year. Since its founding, BFA has graduated over 1300 students. The school was accredited as a Special Purpose School by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) in 1994 and was reaccredited in 1999, 2004, and 2010.