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5 Ways to Make the Most of your Christmas Vacation

December 18, 2017
By Mrs. Angie Gillis, M.Ed

If you’re like me, I breathe a sigh of relief after the last school day before Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE the excitement of the students and all the fun events at PCA like the Christmas Program, Christmas character dress-up day, class parties, hot chocolate day, and like this year – the first snow day.  But there’s something special (and peaceful!) about having those few weekdays off before the rest of the surrounding schools’ breaks begin.  So, this brings me to my five ways to make the most of Christmas vacation:

  1. Take your children somewhere during the day – a movie, bowling, skating, out to lunch.  There’s just something refreshing about doing something fun during a “workday.”  This helps me connect with my children and decompress from the busyness of work.
  2. Help each member of your family buy or make one small gift for each of the other members of your household.  Provide supplies, a time, and a space for the children to wrap their gifts.  Decide when would be a good time to exchange these special, simple gifts. 
  3. Take a family photo.  Knowing that you have one, good photo from the Christmas season will help alleviate any pressure you feel to get a photo of each person opening each gift – or whatever other unrealistic expectation is out there. 
  4. Help each member of your family write a note to each of the other members of your household.  Guide your children to identify special traits that they admire in each person; or a special memory they have about that person.  Words of affirmation can be huge blessings that will be meaningful for years to come, often more so than a material gift.  It also builds relationships among siblings and between parents and children.
  5. Have a designated “no electronics” time – this can be anything from one hour on one day to an entirely unplugged vacation.  You know your family best and what practices have become habits that need to be broken and what might be a nonissue for your family.  Whatever the case, having some screen-free time to do something together is so valuable. 

It’s a blessing that PCA has extra days off before Christmas, in addition to that week in between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  We can use those days to connect with our children in meaningful ways, and slow down the rush of the season.  We need to model for our children what we value, especially time spent with them.  I’ll be praying that we all make the most of it!

Keeping Christ in the Day After Christmas

December 11, 2017
By Mr. Craig Carnahan, M.Ed

I don’t have to remind you why we celebrate Christmas and what the reason for the season truly is.  Many of you already have a variety of traditions to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas celebrations.  This year, I want to bring a different challenge to you, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

For the last year and a half, I have been studying the promises of God, throughout Scripture and in my life.  One of those personal promises came to fruition this year when I had the privilege of marrying my best friend.  While we’ve been together less than two years, God promised her to me almost nine years ago.  I was in India on a mission trip, and I was spending some time seeking the Lord’s direction for personal relationships while I was away.  I heard a very clear direction from God: wait.  He didn’t tell me who I was waiting for and how long I would be waiting.  He simply told me to wait.

Fast forward six years, and I go on my last, first date.  Fast forward another 10 months, now over seven years since God told me to wait, and He releases me from waiting.  I finally get to cash in on His promise for me!  I’m sure many of you might have a similar story of knowing the exact moment God answered a prayer and a promise in your life.  Do you remember the excitement, the energy, and the hope it brought for you?

Transfer this excitement and hope to the people of Israel.  They were promised a Savior hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.  God told them to wait, too.  Except instead of waiting seven years, they had to wait 700 years!  Can you imagine the hope and excitement Mary must have felt knowing that she was at the center of the answer to God’s promise for His people?  The hope and joy that came with that answer didn’t last until December 26.  Every time she looked at her son, she knew He was the promised Messiah, the Prince of Peace.  She might not have known the difficulties that were yet to come, but she could take rest in knowing that God was bringing salvation to His people.

Recently, I heard a song (December Song by Peter Hollens – listen to it here ) that challenged me with this chorus:

But why does it change with the seasons? And why can’t we just hold on?

To Silent nights, Holy nights,

And angels singing lullabies

Heaven and nature

Singing good will to all


At Christmas, we celebrate one of the biggest promises God made not just to His people but to all people.  But we are quick to move on to the next thing on December 26, aren’t we?  We close out our traditions, put the decorations away, and move on to the next event.  How would our lives change if we lived every day with the hope, joy, and excitement of Christmas day?

My challenge to you is this: reflect on a promise God made to you.  Whether or not He’s fulfilled that promise, transfer the emotions around that promise to your celebrations of Christ’s birth.  Then take that one step further and find a way to reflect on God’s answered and yet-to-be answered promises for you and your family all year long.  Join with me to keep Christ not just in Christmas but in the day after Christmas too.  While it is fun to remember Christ’s first coming during the Christmas season, the anticipation for His second coming should keep us hopeful, joyful, and waiting all year long.

     Mr. Craig Carnahan, M.Ed


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What to do if your child struggles in school?

December 04, 2017
By Mrs. Ruth McCarrier, M.Ed and Mrs. Megan Tolfa

The Special Academic Services (SAS) department at PCA is experienced with pointing parents in the right direction when their child begins to struggle in school. As each child is unique, so is the way they might struggle in school. Mrs. McCarrier, Mrs. Tolfa, Mrs. Kletzli, and Mrs. Burlingham are experts at recognizing the signs when students are having problems and step in quickly to determine if the problem stems from a lack of understanding or if it is rooted in a deeper issue.

Homework can prove to be some of the most difficult times a child can experience (for you too!). There are some strategies listed to help when times get tough in the article “When Your Child is Struggling Academically”.

  1. Let your kids get frustrated.
  2. Take a break.
  3. Don’t always try to have a rational conversation.
  4. Let your child make his/her own mistakes.
  5. Put a time limit on the work.
  6. Contact the school.
  7. Help your child learn how to organize himself.
  8. Recognize that school work will never be conflict-free.

Re-teaching and/or using a different approach is sometimes all it takes for the “lightbulb” moment to happen. If the child is still having difficulties it is time to take a closer look at what might be the root of the problem. There are multiple ways to evaluate a student who is having difficulties. Each is unique to the child, their needs, and the parent. A meeting with Mrs. McCarrier or Mrs. Tolfa can help determine the next best step.

Part of our mission at PCA is to partner with the home to ensure the growth of our students, so please know that we are here to assist in any way we can!

When Your Child is Struggling Academically. (n.d.). Retrieved from PBS Parents:


     Mrs. Ruth McCarrier, M.Ed

     Director of Special Academic Services




     Mrs. Megan Tolfa

     Gifted/Enrichment Reading Instructor; Testing Specialist

Ethan & Julie David - PCA Fundraiser Gala Video

November 28, 2017
By Mrs. Kelly Ulonska
Ethan David - Photo courtesy of Daniel Tarr Photography

Hi!  I’m Kelly Ulonska, the Development Director for Penn Christian Academy.  A few weeks ago, we held our annual Harvest Gala, and each year, we invite a graduate of PCA to come and share the impact PCA had on their lives.  This year, we had the privilege of sharing the evening with Ethan David. Ethan is a Penn Christian Academy graduate who suffered not only from Dyslexia, but also Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia.  In recent blog posts, Megan Tolfa and Ruth McCarrier have discussed these types of disabilities and how PCA can help students who have them.  I wanted to share a video from the Gala of Ethan and his mom, Julie, sharing how these programs at PCA helped Ethan and their family.  We were all amazed by his performance and blessed by hearing his testimony. We hope you are as well!

Check out Ethan & Julie David's PCA Fundraiser Gala Video HERE

Photo courtesy of Daniel Tarr Photography


     Mrs. Kelly Ulonska

     Development Director

Recent Posts

12/18/17 - By Mrs. Angie Gillis, M.Ed
12/11/17 - By Mr. Craig Carnahan, M.Ed
12/4/17 - By Mrs. Ruth McCarrier, M.Ed and Mrs. Megan Tolfa
11/28/17 - By Mrs. Kelly Ulonska
11/20/17 - By Mrs. Ruth McCarrier, M.Ed