‘To know; to do; to be; to live together "Celebrating Susanne Prince-Boateng, Crown Prince Academy"
Lately, writing about a particular founder of a successful school in Ghana, I noted that far too often, we choose to see the sparkle and permanence of the present but hardly the uncanny vision that releases boundless potential into solid accomplishments.
And that it is not everybody that is endowed by providence with the capacity to persevere for the lush finality.
At the end of the day, the results of one’s mission in life reveal the magnitude of the willpower that guides the trajectory of people who lead thriving enterprises.
Nothing for nothing leaves nothing, as they say.
It was just one of those things: On first meeting Mrs Susanne Prince-Boateng - the proprietor of Crown Prince Academy, Accra – we both got quite animated sharing our views about our experiences in the education space.
Before long, Mr Kwame Prince-Boateng drove into the schoolyard and joined us.
Though much younger, Mr Boateng and I clicked like long-lost brothers.
We shared similar experiences growing up in Kumasi.
We happened to have visited and known some of the very same hangouts in the Garden City, including Atomic Paradise at Krofrom, Kookoo Ase at Asante New Town, Hotel de Kingsway at Adum and other such lively spots.
Not only that, we recognised the neighbours in parts of the city where we had lived as youngsters.
From that day on, we struck bonds that have embraced our spouses, children and grandchildren.
From later conversations with school heads and Madam Suzie (the affectionate name by which the staff, students and parents called the proprietor), we started off a series of workshops for the continuous professional development (CPD) of the teachers.
Beginning with the teaching of English composition, and strategies for effective pedagogies, the collegial relationship with the school evolved.
I was invited often to celebrate milestone events and, on occasion, give keynote addresses.
One of the most fulfilling courses I was to teach there on some afternoons was a class for remediation. In tune with the notion “Leave No Child Behind”, it was to help struggling kids lighten their academic burden.
Such girls and boys, I named “God’s Children.”
It was such a thrill when a few years back, I got a call from one of them - now an officer with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) – inviting me to give a talk to motivate some youths under his care.
Mr and Mrs Prince-Boateng started Crown Prince Academy on August 23, 1993. Right from the Early Childhood Department, the school taught self-help skills and strategies to guide enquiring minds.
From the very beginning, Madam Suzie noted, “If these qualities are what you are looking for, then you are taking the right step to enrol your child at Crown Prince
Academy. Above all, we have a caring atmosphere to make your child feel at home [on] a journey into a fulfilling and successful future.”
The school began with five children.
Two of the enrolled were the couple’s own children: Malcolm Osei Tutu and Melody Afua-Asantewaa.
To care for the children were Madam Yaa Asantewaa and Madam Mercy Ofori.
The former subsequently became the head of the Early Childhood Development Centre.
A most befitting vision force behind Crown Prince Academy must just as well have come from the book, “The 10X Rule”.
The author, Grant Cardone wrote: "After all, if your ideas do not excessively preoccupy your own thoughts, then how can you expect them to preoccupy the thoughts of others?
Something has to absorb your thoughts every second of every day –so what should it be? Be obsessed with something.
Make your dreams, goals and mission your mind’s and actions' dominant concern!”
For Madam Suzie, who is preoccupied with the dominant need for improved standards of education in Ghana, as she noted in the school’s brochure: “It is for this reason that – for those of us in the private sector – we have the unique opportunity to set standards measurable to education standards in the developed world.”
Recognising the plurality in ways of living, Crown Prince Academy was founded as a secular institution, neutral with regard to religious or other beliefs.
The school tailored its mission along the lines of the four pillars of learning set out by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The Pillars are: Learning to know; Learning to do; Learning to be; Learning to live together.
Madam Suzie noted that “in West Africa - and for that matter Ghana - there exists a huge gap between theoretical knowledge and practical skills.
For that reason, Crown Prince Academy aims its education to bridge that gap, at least at the level of basic education.
In addition, she affirmed, “We hold firm the inter-play of head, heart and hand philosophy of education.”
The idea was to “encourage our pupils/students [to] develop self-belief and confidence, become responsible citizens, speak their minds when necessary; become respectful and disciplined.”
In conclusion, I recall what Winston Churchill once said that people “occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
Aren’t we lucky then to find, in our midst, discerning individuals who - on stumbling over the truth – not only stoop to pick it up but actually work at it to elevate the standards in our common humanity?
The writer is a trainer of teachers, leadership coach, motivational speaker and quality education advocate.