What Makes BFA Unique?


BFA offers several unique programs, courses and learning experiences that support the development of confident, self-directed young adults.



Community Meetings


We meet as a smaller school community by houses once a week on Wednesday mornings to share and showcase our learning and to strengthen our community. Students build public speaking and leadership skills. At Community Meeting,  students and staff make public acknowledgments, apologies, and announcements. Advisories rotate responsibility for leading Community Meeting. Parents are always welcome to attend.


Advisory: "We are Crew not Passengers"


Every BFA student belongs to an advisory. Each advisory is facilitated by a teacher. Advisories are small - 10-12 students per advisor, in order to build close relationships. The advisor is the primary contact for parents/guardians regarding their child's progress at BFA. Students keep one advisor through middle school and one through high school. The groups create a sense of belonging, teach students to value differences, and support each other in working together creatively on issues, concerns and challenges.


Proficiency-based Grading


BFA uses a proficiency-based grading system. The grades represent  what students demonstrate they know and are able to do. Students' character and behavior is equally important, but should be considered separately from academic performance. Students will receive two grades for each class: one for academics and one for Habits of Work and Learning (HOWLs). Students are accountable for passing HOWL targets as well as academic targets.


Student-Involved Assessment


Students at BFA will have regular opportunities to present their work to parents and others through portfolios, student-led conferences, and presentations of learning.


Small Classes of Mixed Ability


All of our classes will range from 20 to 25 students. All students, including English language learners and special education students take the same classes and meet the same high expectations. Students receive the support they need to meet the standards.


Mission-Driven Curriculum


We organize our academic curriculum around issues of social justice and advocacy. The work students do is modeled after the work adults do in their every-day lives. We also partner with the University of Maryland School of Law to  expose students to how active and engaged citizens use the law to support positive community change. Law students teach weekly courses on how the law works in addition to supporting co-curricular activities such as mock trial and young women's mentoring.




BFA is deeply committed to contributing to the wider community. Through our many projects and our elective courses with a service component, students learn the value of giving back to others.

Through Learning by Service, a required 11th grade course, students do work in organizations around the city that supports their communities and provides them with real-life work experience.


Restorative Justice


BFA practices restorative discipline whenever possible to build a safe and healthy school community. Our focus is on reparing the harm done to people or relationships over punishing and alienating the offender.





Our partnership with the CollegeBound Foundation places a counselor in our school that helps students gain admission to college and makes certain they have the skills to succeed when they get there.

Family Resource Center


BFA offers mental health services in our Resource Center through counselors and graduate interns supervised by licensed clinicians.