In 1992, the California State Legislature passed the Charter Schools Act, which allowed for the formation of independent public schools that were free from many of the bureaucratic burdens placed on regular district schools. These schools were required to operate under a “charter” granted by a local school district and now are commonly referred to as “charter schools”.
Shortly thereafter, AHCS’s founder and CEO, Dennis “Coach” Snyder, decided to create a new type of public school. This school would focus on academic achievement, learning fundamentals (reading, writing , math and science) and character development based on our American heritage and its ideals of honesty, integrity, individual initiative and service to others. Coach Snyder had spent 30 years as a teacher and football coach in the Escondido High School District. In 1996, Coach Snyder founded Escondido Charter High School (ECHS), the first American Heritage Charter School.
Starting in a local-area business park with 60 students, ECHS has grown to become a highly-acclaimed and top-performing public high school, known for excellence in education and an emphasis on student’s character development. Today, ECHS operates at full capacity serving approximately 800 students. A close-knit school culture has emerged within ECHS, with teachers, students, and parents all working together to improve pupil learning. During its 19 years of service, ECHS has achieved some of the highest test scores in the State of California and has placed graduates into many of the nation’s top universities including Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Cal Poly.
Based on the success of EHCS, interest in its programs continued to increase and demand far exceeded the school’s capacity. As a result, in 2003, the organization expanded to a new and larger location as its primary campus. The school purchased a commercial complex adjacent to its original campus and built Phase One of its current campus, which included 40 classrooms, a library, modern computer labs, and athletic fields. Phase Two of this project was completed in 2006, by adding a 400-seat theater and gymnasium complex.
Following the completion of the new ECHS campus, ACHS expanded its academic programs and founded The Heritage K-8 Charter School (HK-8). Opened in 2004, it occupies a location adjacent to ECHS, on the prior ECHS campus. Since its inception, Heritage K-8 has grown steadily and now enrolls over 800 students. Like ECHS, HK-8 is committed to improving pupil learning by promoting academic excellence through a focus on fundamentals. The school also partners with parents to promote the student’s character development aligned with our national ideals of achievement, integrity and service to others. As a result of these efforts, Heritage K-8 was recently recognized as the #1 charter school in the State of California by an independent study commissioned by USC.
To better serve parents and students that are interested in a technology-focused and blended learning curriculum, American Heritage Charter Schools launched The Heritage Digital Academy Program in 2010. This program provides students grades 6-12 with a classroom-based, technology-focused, blended learning program. Since its inception, the program has grown rapidly, starting with 90 students and increasing to current enrollment of over 350 students.