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Reviews of Peoples Christian Academy (PCA)

Markham, ON  |  Grades PS - 12  |  Shortlist

 

Review by: LS Ho - Parent (Nov 02, 2021)

"Our children are not just learning but thriving."


Student Experience

We came to PCA on the recommendation of good church friends. It has been the best schooling decision we have made for our 3 kids, and we recommend PCA wholeheartedly. Our children are not just learning but thriving. Our children unanimously say that the one thing they appreciate most about PCA is their teachers who are kind, caring, funny, and engaging. Teachers are always available to help without judgment, and they always find very creative and FUN ways to teach the material and engage the kids. We have experienced ELC right up until Middle School (at the time this review is written). In all the years my eldest has been at PCA, she has fostered deep friendships and relationships with her classmates and teachers. Her SK teacher still greets her with a warm smile and remembers her name. My daughter feels like her teachers are not just figures of authority, but people she looks up to, and consider as friends. Alumni parents have accounted to me the ways their childrens' teachers have purposefully set aside time outside of school to ask how they are doing and have walked alongside them during extremely difficult family situations, and even just through tough teenage times - this is outside of their already very busy day. My children feel loved at PCA.


Teaching

It was important to us as parents to find a school that challenged our kids academically but also offered Christian teaching that is seamless from the spiritual teaching that we foster at home and through our church. PCA offers both. The unanimous praise that our children have for PCA is their teachers. The teachers are passionate about their subjects, and they offer a safe environment for the students to ask questions. During the pandemic in online learning, we saw some truly astonishing, creative methods of engaging/teaching the kids. To provide that level of quality of instruction no doubt requires long hours of preparation. Teachers continually pivot and retool to provide exciting ways to present the curriculum. The teachers prepare the students well, not just with the hard, but soft skills, to position them with the best footing for the next grade level. All the teachers our kids have had have been very responsive. In fact, teachers will pre-emptively reach out to parents in hallways and offer reminders, etc. as needed. We are so thankful and appreciative of the time that the teachers have spent to help remind, remediate and/or restore behaviour that needs to be corrected. This is not a school where teachers do their required minimum. They always extend above and beyond for the sake of the students.


School Leadership

The first thing that stands out about the school leadership and administration is how incredibly hardworking they are. It is evident that they labour as for the Lord, and PCA is more than just a job, but a ministry to them. Another thing that stands out is their forward planning mindset: when the pandemic began, as the world grappled with incoming, continually developing information on the COVID-19 virus, the leadership jumped into action, creating a medical committee (consisting of volunteer parents and staff, knowledgeable healthcare practitioners), and worked tirelessly together throughout the summer - with the sole mission to prepare the children and staff for the safest reopening in September, with minimal interruption to the students’ abilities to learn. It is clear that the leadership has the best intentions for the students, families, and teachers. Every morning and afternoon at drop-off and pick-up, you will see the Principal and a team of parent volunteers joyfully direct traffic in the parking lot! The leadership is very accessible and responsive, and is also on point and effective with their communication, seasoned always with a tone of Christian grace.


Academics

We feel that PCA has a very strong academic program and have never found it lacking - quite the opposite. We are very happy that the PCA standing/results for CAT standardized testing have always been above the national average. Observing the homework and projects that our kids complete as part of the curriculum, we are very pleased with the amount of exposure to various science, language, and math concepts that we as parents (when school-aged) did not encounter until grade levels much higher. We appreciate the exposure to testing of material learned in class at early grades. We are pleased that our kids are constantly challenged with the material taught and especially thankful that PCA offers a faith-based curriculum that offers a biblical worldview for the various course streams. The teachers integrate faith into the material taught. Spiritual discipline is integrated into the curriculum as well, for example, scripture memorization, devotions, and weekly Chapels.


Extracurriculars

PCA has a wide offering of extracurriculars. There is a good offering of team-based extracurriculars and self-driven ones, to develop whole, well-rounded students. We have particularly appreciated the ACSI Speech Meet competitions and have seen our children cultivate speaking skills in front of large audiences. The sports teams are fun and offer a healthy sense of competition. The hard-working teachers and volunteer parents cultivate healthy Christ-like sportsmanship by coaching the teams to pray together and lean on each other as a team. There is also a wide buffet of After-School programs available of which our kids have greatly enjoyed.


Students

Our children are really happy to be in school and they truly adore their classmates and teachers. The classroom size to teacher ratio is good, varying from 1:20-24 in the grade levels my children have been in. I have attended the school chapels and assemblies and there is such a joy in the united voices of the children as they greet the VP and Principal, sing worship songs together, or do presentations of song and memory verses together. The children are happy. The children (and parents) are greeted by name, with joy (and even hugs!), as they walk the hallways and enter the classrooms - by leadership and teachers alike. The students have a healthy respect for the teachers, and the students feel cared for. The culture, spirit, and feel of the school are warm.


School Life

Our children truly enjoy going to school every day. They look forward to it every morning and they come home brimming with stories to tell. They love being with their school friends and their teachers. PCA integrates many days for celebration or plain fun. Spirit Week and Toronto Sports Teams t-shirt days are some ways they incorporate team spirit at PCA. Perhaps best is the House Leagues. Each child is assigned to a House League and boldly wears their team t-shirts on special days. The league is a very fun idea to incorporate a spirit of camaraderie and healthy sportsmanship with team challenges throughout the year. The students go crazy with glee every year after Sports Day when their cumulative team points are collected and the champion team of that year is announced.


Community

We feel like there is ample opportunity for broader community fellowship if parents desire it. The Parents Committee organizes weekly prayer meetings, parent seminar workshops, and a hugely successful year-end party for the PCA community. Within the year, there are opportunities for parents to contribute to staff and teacher appreciation activities and other fundraisers for the school. There is warm fellowship in the hallways at drop off and pick up, after school at the playground, and homeroom-specific group chats for parents to help each other with their child’s classroom goings-on. Parents are encouraged to help out with sports teams and field trips. Alumni parents continue to return and actively serve on the Board, in the parking lot - wherever there is a need - and special events. Children of alumni parents attend PCA. It is clear that PCA is not just another phase or means to an end, but has such impact that it positively affects generations. For those who seek community, there is ample opportunity to connect and be welcomed.


School Location

PCA is conveniently located off the highway. The school itself is off the main road, so it is safe for pedestrians and relatively quiet. There is quite an offering of restaurants and coffee shops within a 5-7 min walk from the school for older students to walk to. Parents would be delighted to know there are major supermarkets and other service providers within a 1.5km radius from the school – incredibly practical for doing errands after drop off or before pickup.




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