The Heritage Academy was started by Franklin & Marshall alumni, Kwesi Koomson ’97. In 2004, Kwesi established Heritage Academy in a church with 32 students. He intended for the Heritage Academy (PK-9th) to be a small school, however, the institution has grown in size with a successful enrollment of 1,057 students in 2011. This fall, Heritage Academy has expanded to include a secondary school (10-12th). Both campuses have consistently scored 100% pass on the national exams in a district where the average pass rate is 42%. Melissa Schoerke Koomson, wife and philanthropic partner of Kwesi Koomson, founded the Schoerke Foundation in 2006. The foundation continues to support Heritage Academy.
Kwesi currently works at the Westtown School in West Chester, PA which, along with Franklin & Marshall College, has a great working relationship with the Heritage Academy. Kwesi has brought students from from both schools over to teach and volunteer at the Heritage Academy and this blog is meant to document their experiences!
Heritage is remarkable for any number of reasons:
The school’s philosophy is informed by seven principles: Knowledge, Integrity, Discipline, Respect, Responsibility, Simplicity, Hard Work;
- Its students learn critical thinking skills instead of rote memorization for the national exam, their ticket to higher education;
- They learn to read, and they learn reading comprehension;
- They’re taught to ask ‘Why?’ – unusual in the Ghanaian educational system;
- Thirty-one of the 32 initial graduates passed the national exam, and are eligible to enroll in secondary school;
- It is the first school in its district with a no-caning policy;
- Heritage holds workshops and a conference for its teachers, who also get to work alongside trained teachers from the US.
The Koomsons have established another school in a village 30 minutes north of Breman Esiam, buying a school facing bankruptcy and moving it to a new site. Known as Ochiso Heritage Academy, it enrolls 300 students in PreK though 7th grade. The need is all too readily apparent, and the schools’ success speaks to their dedication to their mission. “This was Kwesi’s dream,” Melissa says. “He has made a world of difference to the villagers in his home town.”