Portsmouth Christian Academy sees greatest enrollment increase since early 2000s
DOVER - Portsmouth Christian Academy in Dover (PCA) announced the creation of Wait Pools for several grades for the 20-21 school year in response to the dramatic increase in applications following announcements from area schools of their plans for the upcoming fall semester.
“Covid-19 has caused many good schools to reconsider how best to deliver instruction to their students,” says PCA Head of School, Mike Runey. “For some, the decision has been to move to partial or full-time remote instruction. For families who are comfortable with this option, they can continue with distance learning at their current school. Other families desire in-person instruction for their children that will allow them to engage with their teachers and peers in person, and build social connections in a way that’s familiar to them. It’s these families who are pursuing PCA for the year ahead, with a rate of increased enrollment growth the school hasn’t seen since the early 2000s.”
PCA serves Pre-K to 12th grade, and plans to return to campus for on-site learning, five days a week, teaching through what they call an Enhanced Hybrid Learning model. This allows for safe and socially distanced learning, with the flexibility to go off-site in emergency situations.
PCA has taken an accelerated approach to aggressive implementation of new health and safety protocols, procedures and equipment, and has been regularly communicating its plan to families. In addition to standard daily health screenings and new traffic patterns for teachers and students, PCA has reconfigured the layout of its Lower School to create self-contained “Houses” for each school level, along with changes to how classroom instruction will be delivered for classes that normally take place outside of the homeroom, like foreign language, art and library. A nurse’s station has been established in each House to mitigate spread of sickness in the halls and throughout the rest of the school. Hand sanitizing stations, 6-foot distancing in classrooms, classroom disinfection between classes (Upper School) and masks for when 6 feet cannot be maintained are also part of the school’s plan. Additionally, PCA has invested in new fiber-optic and in-classroom technology to allow for improved connectivity for families who choose off-site education as the option for their students.
One PCA parent noted the confidence being built before the school year even starts. She says, “We recognize this is a whole new world and some things may have to change along the way, but the plans that have been communicated lend our family confidence that PCA is setting the bar high for the new school year in terms of safety.”
She goes on to share an example of that high bar she recently witnessed on the soccer field. “The soccer coach was wearing his mask the entire session and had designed the drills so that the boys were 6 feet apart. During water breaks, he regularly reminded the boys to maintain social distancing. Even their backpacks and water bottles were 6 feet apart. If they can do this on the soccer field, I have great confidence they can execute this in the classrooms.”
Runey says, “Most families want their children to return to the classroom in person for the year. And our recent investments and health and safety protocols mean we’re ready to receive them. For a few families, however, remote participation is preferred because of their family’s unique situation. We’re equipped to serve them as well with new technology that will allow their children to receive the same, live, synchronous instruction as their peers as well as interact with the teacher and their classmates.”
Dan Schmunk and his wife began considering PCA as an option during last spring's state of emergency when they found remote learning in their public school to be difficult for their family. A few weeks ago, when the Schmunk family’s school district plan was released, they realized they wanted something different for their boys and immediately took steps to apply to PCA. Schmunk says, "My wife and I both work. There are parents who have to facilitate [at home learning] who need to be working at the same time. And with three boys in elementary school, whoever was at home was a full-time substitute teacher. We looked at what that would mean for the fall semester, and there was no way it was going to work or be a good experience. On top of that, our boys had difficulty with the ‘learning from home’ piece of it."
For many, PCA’s health and safety measures allow them to continue to take advantage of what drew them to PCA from the beginning.
PCA parents Kyle and Kaitlyn Eastman say, “To have teachers who reinforce all of the things our son learns at home is much more important to us than we may have realized when we first started thinking about school.”
And the Ngamcharoenthana family says, “After dropping the kids off in the morning (even after the 40+ minute commute) I am overwhelmed at God’s goodness that we get to send our kids to PCA.”
PCA starts the 20-21 school year on August 31st. As the date approaches, newly added classrooms continue to be filled. Seats are currently available in Preschool and Grades 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10. To apply for one of these grades or to inquire/be added to the Wait Pool for another grade, visit pcachool.org.
More information about PCA’s Enhanced Hybrid Learning can be found at pcaschool.org/covid-19.
The full news story on PCA’s increase in enrollment can be found here.
Portsmouth Christian Academy has been inspiring students on the Seacoast to maximize their potential for forty years. PCA provides a nurturing educational environment that emphasizes Christ-centered community, outstanding academics, differentiated learning, and exceptional character. Located just minutes northwest of Portsmouth, NH on a beautiful fifty-acre riverfront campus, PCA is a dually accredited, independent, college-preparatory, day school where young people from Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire in Preschool through Grade 12 are challenged to thrive academically and grow as servant-leaders prepared to impact the world for good. For more information, visit pcaschool.org.