Freedom Home Academy
By Ken Hare
Chicago Defender Staff Writer
Roseland on the far South Side is home to one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets in education. Situated on the main business strip that at one time rivaled downtown is a true, one-of-a-kind entrepreneur success story – Freedom Home Academy (FHA).
Freedom is a not-for-profit, fully accredited, home schooling system with its main campus at 113th and Michigan.
It was started in 2010 by husband and wife team Marcus and Ashaki Bochum-Kline, who set out to change the stereotypes associated with educating children of color.
“In an African-centered context, our purpose is building African children to be exceptional, academically driven and disciplined human beings,” Marcus Kline said. FHA’s holistic approach concentrates on reading, mathematics, focus, geography, health, and cultural enrichment. The school, which runs academic programming that covers preschool to high school, has achieved remarkable results.
The school has two campuses and children attend school year round. Parents that enroll their children here have discovered what every parent desires and what every school administrator envies – a competent child that can compete on a global level. At their School of Literacy campus, near 95th and Jeffrey, students as young as five years old can communicate in French, Swahili, and Arabic.
First graders know the capitals of every country in the world and can show them to you on the map without hesitation. Second graders know all 72 elements of the periodic chart and the major systems in the human body and their functions.
Marcus Kline, the Director of the school who looks to be in his early 30s, studied under the late, great, Steve Cokely. Cokely, a prolific political researcher, and lecturer, spoke nationally on politics and economic issues important to the Black community. He served under the late Harold Washington and Eugene Sawyer administrations.
FHA’s highly structured approach is worthy of its own course of study and analysis at an HBCU. For starters, FHA has a code of ethics that includes honoring African ancestors and the African red, black, and green flag.
Sharing your knowledge and being collective with your actions. Reconciling differences with your brothers and sisters. Accepting the consequences of inappropriate behavior. Studying to master comprehension, and acting and dressing in a dignified manner. All this helps sets the tone for accelerated learning.
Says one FHA administrator, “Due to our curriculum, which engages both sides of the brain, we don’t have the problems that other educational systems encounter.” Instruction can be divided into two broad categories, proactive and reactive. These two styles of instruction stem from very different psychological bases, according to Kline.
The proactive style is learner-centered and views learning as an individualized process of discovery and growth. In this mode, learners take the initiative and assume the primary responsibility for their education; the teacher acts as the facilitator or catalyst, taking cues from the learners’ interests. Planning is fluid and somewhat open.
Reactive instruction places the learner in the position of a responder. The teacher is the initiator and carries the major responsibility for whatever learning takes place. The assumption is that learners must, to some extent, be force-fed. The teacher is the planner, decision maker, and court of appeal. The learner reacts to the teacher’s initiatives, plans, and decisions, and relies on the teacher’s assessment of his or her progress.
Roseland resident and retired CPS administrator Ingrid Blackgood who specialized in early education, said “The Black community needs to be aware of this type of education and take advantage of it. What they have achieved with our Black children is award winning.”
Marcus believes wholeheartedly that “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,” as goes the famous Malcolm X quote. The school is entirely private and receives no funding from the government or corporate entities because, Marcus says, once you accept their money, you have to promote their European agenda.
According to the school’s website, standard tuition is $5,400 per year and can be paid in full or in monthly installments of $450. The school also accepts tax-deductible donations. When asked about future plans, Kline was eager to share the latest news about his partnership in the Motherland. He recently returned from Africa where his organization has acquired some land outside Accra to build a new school and teaching facility from the ground up.
For a demonstration of what children properly educated can achieve, visit their website at http://www.fhaintl.org/ and prepare to be amazed. Freedom Home Academy can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 773/634-0616.