Donna Gilson, principal of Prestonwood Christian Academy’s North Campus Lower School, recently received a welcome phone call. “A parent called just to thank us for the smooth transition to in-person schooling and for making his child feel safe,” she said. “He said how much it meant for his son to feel like one thing in his life is ‘normal.’” That normalcy was one of the driving factors behind returning to in-person schooling at the private, Christian liberal arts school.
“A lot of factors were considered in deciding whether and when to reopen,” said PCA Interim Head of School John Klingstedt. “The biggest was that students need to be in the classroom. The benefits of educating kids in classrooms is too important to put on hold any longer. Brain development experts tell us there are certain stages that, if missed, can’t be made up. For example, reading comprehension skills in lower-grade students. Being in a class is important. We just have to do it safely.”
That safety has seen some students opt for remote learning, either part or full time. It’s meant rearranging classrooms, so desks can be spaced further apart for in-person students. And it’s meant keeping students in pods where they mix in smaller groups through the school day.
“In-person schooling has allowed us to return to our emphasis on the educational ‘four Cs’—critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication,” Mr. Klingstedt said. “Those remain our focus in academic preparation.”
“Children thrive on structure and routine,” Ms. Gilson explained. “They need to know what they can expect each day. Our goal is to keep things as routine as we can and be unwavering in our commitment to Biblical truth, academic excellence, and Christ-like leadership. Our COVID-19 precautions are working and our students and teachers are thrilled to be in the classroom.”
Middle and Upper School Principal Greg Wright says one factor that’s helped make this school year such a success is that PCA teachers were already familiar with many of the technology platforms they’re using. “From day one of the pandemic, our teaching staff in lower, middle, and upper school has embraced whatever they needed to do to maintain the excellence PCA is known for,” he said. “Our staff has always been strong when it comes to technology. They’ve gone above and beyond to incorporate technology platforms such as Canvas, Google Suite, Loom Video, EdPuzzle, Nearpod, and Desmos to help with remote learning. It’s been successful and many of the platforms we’ve implemented will continue to enhance our educational value moving forward. We’ve simply added new tools to our teaching tool belt.”
To keep remote students engaged, teachers keep learning interactive. Remote students are able to interact with in-person students and be an active part of classroom activities. Their work can be seen live and in real time just like in-person students, so they’re still an integral part of each class period. “These classroom technologies are helping prepare our students for 21st century learning and careers, once the pandemic is over,” Mr. Wright said.
Since 1997, Prestonwood Christian Academy has partnered with parents and the church to educate the entire child—mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially. Learning is taught with a Biblical worldview where the student’s character is of utmost importance and students are encouraged to demonstrate the highest standards of honesty, courtesy, and respect for others.
Over the past 24 years, the PCA School System, has grown into one of the top Christian schools in the country with many academic and athletic accomplishments. The Pre-K through 12th grade school includes a cutting-edge STEM curriculum and many extracurricular and co-curricular opportunities. Because it’s a Christian liberal arts school, learning is interdisciplinary often combining objectives, content, and instructional strategies in more than one content area, allowing students to make connections across a broad array of knowledge and skills that will serve them well in college and in life. Biblical values are integrated into every lesson at PCA, whether in the classroom, on the playing field, or in the arts.
If this sounds like the kind of environment you want for your child, visit PrestonwoodChristain.org or call (972) 798-6780 to schedule a school tour. Prestonwood Christian Academy is fully accredited through AdvancED and the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).
1001 West Prosper Trail
Prosper, Texas 75078
6801 West Park Boulevard
Plano, Texas 75093