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Enrichment Services

March 19, 2018
By Mrs. Megan Tolfa

As you may have previously learned on our blog or recent vlog, PCA meets students’ needs by ability grouping in Reading and Math. We understand that children learn differently and we aim to provide groups at each grade level that can reach each student. We offer Reading and Math groups that will meet students where they are and help them grow.

For Reading, we offer services in second through sixth grade for students who have been tested and have received an IQ score of 120 or higher. The students read novels in class based on their Lexile range. Questions, discussions, and even projects are based in the higher-level thinking areas of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Being the Gifted/Enrichment Reading teacher, I get to see this passion and creativity flow on a daily basis. A specific example that comes to mind happened while reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret with my fourth graders. We spent a lot of class time analyzing the relationships between the characters and hypothesizing different reasons for this connection or that action and within a few days they had the entire book figured out without reading the second half!

For Math, in first through third grade, we ability group for each unit. This allows flexibility throughout the year so we can get the students the education they need for each unit. In Enrichment for those grade levels, the students work more in depth with the outcomes, problem solving skills, and with hands-on projects. In fourth through sixth grade, approved students take part in Advanced Math Track. The goal of this is to work through one and a half years of curriculum in the span of one academic year. This means there is a faster pace happening in these groups. At the end of sixth grade, our students will be ready for Algebra when they graduate and go on to another school.

Not only does the Special Academic Services Department work together to meet the needs of a struggling learner, but also the learners who excel.  These programs are few and far between, especially in private schools with limited funding, and we have expanded our programming to meet the needs of every student.



Mrs. Megan Tolfa

Gifted/Enrichment Reading Instructor; Testing Specialist

What am I paying for?

March 14, 2018
By Mrs. Angie Gillis, M.Ed

Pennsylvania has excellent public schools.  So what is the difference between public and private education?  Right out of the gate I can tell you that what we teach and how we teach is different than what you find in public schools. 

What do we teach?
Because we are not government-mandated, we can choose which standards are taught.  Being accredited by the Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools as well as the Association of Christian Schools International means that we must follow a set of standards, but we have the professional freedom to choose what we believe is best for our students.  At PCA we keep a close eye on trends in education and we ensure that we are meeting or exceeding state or national standards.  Our curricular guides for every subject and every grade level include state or national standards, as well as some objectives that are specific to PCA and were written by our administrative and teaching staff.  These standards are reviewed and updated regularly by PCA’s Education Committee and teaching staff.  For more information about PCA’s curriculum, see our past blogs: PCA Curriculum and What is Common Core? 
We are committed to Special Area classes and STEAM programming.  Students in Preschool-6th grade participate in Music, Gym, Science Lab, and Library.  Once students enter Kindergarten, they also get weekly Computer Lab, Global Learning Lab, and Art classes. In addition to these seven special area classes, students in K-6 also participate in monthly Activity Period classes.  For the 2017-2018 school year, those classes are: Video Game Design, Geo Cache, Movie Critics, Composition Creations, Math Escape Room, and Courtyard Science. 
How do we teach? 
At PCA, we also have professional freedom for textbook selection and continuous progress.  In Math for example, teachers have a textbook but they are not expected to be on a certain page or lesson on a certain day.  Teachers use the textbook as a resource to support their instruction of the standards; as long as the standards are being met, teachers may or may not use the text.  Our Education Committee and teaching staff select textbooks and resources that directly support the standards we are teaching, but we do not “cover” the whole book in each grade level.  For more information about PCA’s textbook choices, see our past blog: PCA Curriculum, Common Core & Textbooks
Rather than taking one standardized test each spring, PCA uses the NWEA Measures of Academic Performance Assessment.  Students take computerized tests each August, January, and May.  These assessments spiral up (increased difficulty) or down (decreased difficulty) based on how students are answering the questions.  A variety of reports are available within 24 hours of testing, that will provide teachers with valuable data about what each student is ready to learn.  In addition to our curricular guides, the NWEA data drives our instruction.  This provides the opportunity for continuous progress, as the data helps us meet students where they are and take them further.
At PCA, we are careful to hire teachers who have a clear Christian testimony.  Throughout their employment at PCA, teachers are trained in biblical worldview teaching by completing The Truth Project by Focus on the Family  This helps teachers in all subjects and grade levels make connections to God and the truth of His Word.  Next year, our staff will be furthering our biblical worldview training by going through The Secret Battle of Ideas about God by Dr. Jeff Myers
I am a product of public education and am thankful for the wonderful teachers who guided me, right here in Butler County.  I can also tell you that understanding the options available, my husband and I chose PCA, hands down, for all three of our children. 



Mrs. Angie Gillis, M.Ed



Safety First at Penn Christian Academy!

March 07, 2018
By Penn Christian Academy

Safety has always been and will continue to be one of Penn Christian Academy’s top priorities for our students.  It is one of our five ROARS principles, and this applies to day-to-day classroom behaviors and procedures as much as it does the big picture operations of the school.  When students step off the bus and into our school, the responsibility of your child’s safety is not taken lightly by teachers, staff members, and administration.  I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of PCA’s safety practices that impact how we operate daily.

The current safety plan in place began with two years of research and collaboration with police, fire and health officials.  They came to our building and met with administration as a plan for emergencies and overall safety standards was developed.  We now have a full Crisis Management Plan for fire, tornado, and lockdown situations.  All classrooms and offices are equipped with a binder detailing the procedures for each situation, along with a Quick Guide located on the doors of the classrooms.

In order for students to fully understand and execute the procedures in the Crisis Management Plan, drills are practiced throughout the year – three each of fire, tornado, and lockdown.  Teachers and students are notified about two of these drills, so procedures can be discussed in class.  There is one unnotified drill throughout the year to ensure the element of surprise does not cause neglect while following procedure.  Our drill times average 50% lower than the state standards for a facility of our size. 

Several years ago, Penn Christian Academy began training faculty in a process called A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate) for lockdown and evacuation procedures.  We were one of the first schools in our area to begin this program, and we continue to train both faculty and students each year.  We do not publicize details of our lockdown procedures for safety reasons.  Local police departments have been consulted and continue to educate administration on updates and best practices regarding school safety and lockdown procedures.

Our school is locked, both inside and out, all day long.  The only entrance for outside visitors, including parents, is through the front office.  All visitors are checked into the office to regulate who is in the building and why they are visiting.  All classrooms with students inside are locked throughout the day to ensure access is only granted to those with proper reason to be in the building.

Overall, we strive to keep our safety management as thorough as possible, while keeping it simple enough for students to understand and perform.  The way to ensure students remain safest is through preparation before the event occurs.  Ultimately, we know our safety rests in the hands of our Heavenly Father.  He is always watching over His children, and we claim the promise that we find in Psalm 91.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

6th Grade Leadership Project: Leaving a Legacy for Years to Come

February 26, 2018
By Mr. Craig Carnahan, M.Ed
One of the distinctives at Penn Christian Academy is our culture of leadership.  From the time students are in preschool all the way through sixth grade, students are challenged to think like a leader.  When asked to think like a leader, most of us immediately think of a CEO or president of a company.  When students at Penn Christian Academy think of leaders, they look to the individual who changed leadership forever – Jesus Christ.  Jesus came with an attitude of humility and sought to give an example of servant leadership.  The 6th Grade Leadership Class challenges students to imitate Christ’s leadership style through service and a humble attitude.


One way the students can do this is through the 6th Grade Legacy Project.  Each year, the Sixth-grade class attends a Middle School Leadership Conference, and they are challenged to give back in some way.  It can be in whatever way they see most fit for their community or school, and it must be organized almost completely by the students.  While most would see this as a big undertaking for a group of 11 and 12-year-old students, PCA sees a great opportunity.  The leadership conference gives students the chance to host an event where they can raise money or awareness for their cause. 


This year, PCA students decided to host a Sugar Showdown that would benefit three local community organizations in addition to the PCA community.  They wanted to raise money and items for The Caring Angels Program at the Butler Hospital, The Butler County Humane Society, and St. Jude’s Research Hospital. The school project sponsored by the students was to purchase water tanks for our water purification system.  The giving spirit behind animal shelters and a children’s hospital is clear; these organizations will directly impact some individuals in need.  Let me pause for a minute and emphasize the school project – nobody sees these water storage tanks, and if everyone has clean drinking water, nobody is going to think about them either.  Why, then, would students work so hard to host a school fundraising event to pay for something nobody will see or even think about?  The answer is staggering – they want to impact the school for years to come and leave the school better than when they came.  What an incredible way to demonstrate Christ-like leadership! 


The Sixth-Grade students raised almost $2,200 through the Sugar Showdown, and they will continue to collect items and donations through April.  This class invested time, resources, and energy to purchase products that will leave the school safe and healthy for classes following them.  They collected items and donations for three charitable organizations that impact the greater Butler community.  Why did they do it all?  To bring glory to the name of God and to help their neighbor without being recognized or given credit.  I don’t know about you, but this excites me to see what impact these students will have in the future and how God will continue to use their servant hearts. 



Mr. Craig Carnahan, M.Ed.


Recent Posts

3/19/18 - By Mrs. Megan Tolfa
3/14/18 - By Mrs. Angie Gillis, M.Ed
3/7/18 - By Penn Christian Academy
2/26/18 - By Mr. Craig Carnahan, M.Ed
2/19/18 - By Mr. Craig Carnahan, M.Ed