Leadership Team

    Diana Simpson 



    Diana has been a part of Ben Franklin Academy since the school opened in 2011.  She is excited to see the founding Board’s mission and vision being realized on a daily basis in the school.  She looks forward to continue partnering with families to make Ben Franklin Academy THE Charter School of Choice in Douglas County.

    For the past twenty years, Diana has been involved in charter schools. Most recently, she served as the assistant principal for fifth through eighth grade at BFA, and before that was the assistant principal for kindergarten through fourth grade. Simpson was a teacher for 13 years, with experience in fifth grade, sixth grade and as a 6-8 grade Social Studies teacher. A self-described “Colorado girl,” Simpson received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Colorado and her Master’s Degree in Administration from Western State University.

    Diana wants to see every child succeed and grow academically.  She wants to make sure that the teachers have all the tools they need to make that happen for each of their students.

    “I look forward to working with students, parents, teachers, and staff to build on BFA’s dedication to meeting the needs of each student and furthering the school’s mission and vision,” said Simpson.

    Diana and her husband, Kevin, live in Parker with their three dogs.  Her son, Kenny, is attending the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and is studying PGA Golf Management.  Her family loves to travel and spend time together cheering on the Broncos and the Rockies

    Faculty Favorites

        Michael Peterson

        Assistant Principal, grades K-4


        Michael joins the Ben Franklin community, and he brings years of classroom and admin experience. He is excited to live and breathe the Ben Franklin values and virtues along with sharing his passion for education and students. He looks forward to building and fostering positive relationships with students, families, and all stakeholders of the community.

        Most recently. Michael was an Assistant Principal in Aurora Public Schools for 4 years, and prior to that, he supported Brighton Schools as a Dean of Students for two years. He began his career in education in DPS as a Gifted and Talented teacher who supported multiple schools. Michael will always call Minnesota home, however, from a distance (brr). He very much likes the scenery of the mountains and the mild winters here which was a major reason he decided to call the Centennial state his permanent home. Michael received his Bachelor of Science from Minnesota State University Moorhead and his Master’s of Arts degree from Concordia University Portland. Shortly after moving to the metro, Michael embarked on his Educational Leadership credentials by enrolling in the ALPS leadership program through the University of Colorado Denver campus. He then enrolled in an educational leadership doctorate program also through the University of Colorado Denver. Michael believes every student can thrive and be successful in the classroom and life. It’s up to us as the adults and educators to provide the tools and resources to ensure each and every child has an equal opportunity to succeed. “I can’t wait to hit the ground running, and building and fostering as many relationships as possible. If not us, who? If not us, when?” Is a favorite quote he tries to implement into his daily workday because he truly believes our student’s futures depend on us stepping up and doing our jobs as educators.

        Michael and his wife, Lilli, live in Centennial with their daughter and son, Hudson (7) and Henry (6), respectively. On his free time, you can find him playing basketball with friends or out and about with his family to explore and enjoy all the great things Colorado has to offer. He is also a die hard Minnesota sports fan even though it causes quite a bit of heartbreak each year, he is committed and loyal. You will probably see him at Ball arena or Sports Authority Stadium when the Timberwolves or Vikings are in town.

        Faculty Favorites

            Richard Zaccaria

            Assistant Principal, grades 5 - 8

            My name is Richard Zaccaria and I am very excited to be a part of the Ben Franklin team! I have been an educator for the past nine years, working in various types of schools across multiple grade levels. I began my teaching career in New York City, working in both high schools and middle schools. While teaching in New York, I also attended Lehman College, where I earned a masters degree in Social Studies education and curriculum development. In 2018, I moved to Colorado with my wife, and began teaching 7th and 8th grade social studies in Aurora. While teaching in Colorado, I also attended the University of Denver to get my principal license. In my free time I enjoy fly fishing, hunting and being outdoors with my wife and two dogs!

                Lori Hafner

                Preschool Director


                I am delighted to be the Preschool Director and part of an incredible preschool team here at Ben Franklin Academy. I believe that early learning is a great way to build the foundation of a child’s future by providing opportunities for development and growth. I encourage positive interactions and relationships with the parents and the children by providing all families with attention, acceptance, and affection.

                “What did I want to be when I grew up?” The question we ask our little ones at the end of every school year at the age of 5! I can say that I have already known for as long as I can remember that I wanted to be a teacher. I followed my dream and completed a degree in Elementary Education with an Early Childhood emphasis. My first teaching job took me on an adventure to Nevada, and after getting married, I moved to California and taught for another two years. Wanting to move closer back to home brought us to Colorado. I began an in-home licensed childcare business, so I could be home with my children and still be able to do what I love. After 23 years, I retired from childcare and desired to get back into the school setting. I was excited to step back into the classroom and begin teaching at Ben Franklin and then stepping into the Director’s role in

                I was born and raised in North Dakota; I now consider Colorado my home as I have lived here for 28 years. I love it in Colorado as my husband, Adrian, and I have raised all three of our children here. My oldest daughter, Shelby, and son Sheldon are both in the real working world. My youngest, Shantell, is attending the University of Northern Colorado to pursue a teaching degree.

                I am looking forward to another great school year to meet new families and welcome our returning families back for another fantastic year!

                Faculty Favorites

                    Halsley Hoff 

                    Director of Finance, HR & Operations


                    Halsley loves being part of the Ben Franklin Academy family. She was involved with our PTO from the beginning initially serving as the Fundraising Coordinator and then as Secretary. She joined the BFA staff in November of 2012 working as the Business Assistant. In March 2015, she moved into the role of Business Manager.

                    She is a Colorado native and graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in Computer Science. Prior to BFA she worked as the Clinic/Grants & Contracts Manager at the Barbara Davis Center. Her oldest daughter was part of the first BFA Kindergarten class and will be a Senior this year, her youngest daughter graduated BFA last year and will be a Freshman.

                    Faculty Favorites