Christian Education: Fostering Personal Relationships

Several years ago, a friend of mine and I were discussing our work and he asked me, “Why would anybody pay for a private school when we already pay so much in taxes for public school?”  Great question.  Over many years here, I’ve noticed three key distinctives of a Christian education.

The staff and faculty believe that all  students are made in God’s image.

This simple statement changes everything.  Because our students bear the image of God, whether they are yet believers or not, they deserve our best efforts.  They are creative, they are intelligent, they are capable, and they are hard-wired for fellowship with other human beings.  However, because we live in a fallen world, they also are capable of hurting others, of falling prey to lies, and they sometimes do damage in relationships.  Our reaction to that, though, is not to condemn them; rather, it’s to help them rise above these problems in order to see that God’s desire for their lives is so much better.

The staff and faculty believe that God has a plan for each and every student.

Over their years at PCA, students will consistently hear this message from teachers: God has a plan for you.  Each of us is called to be a part of that plan.  High school is about an initial exploration of what gifts God has given each student in preparation for fulfilling His plan.  Everything that happens to our students has meaning and purpose, even though neither may be clear in the moment.  This world view helps students to navigate tough times.  Students are encouraged by hearing from adults who have some life experience AND who can testify to God’s presence and provision in all things.

The staff and faculty believe that strong relationships are the key to growth and learning.

At Portsmouth Christian Academy, year after year, survey after survey, the highest scores we receive are on questions related to the relationship between the faculty and the students.  This is not an accident; we’re not merely a coincidental collection of “nice people.”  Rather, it’s at the core of who we are.  We see our students as our younger brothers and sisters in Christ.  This means that we treat our high school students as young adults.  We expect good and even great things from them, even though they sometimes fall short.  That’s okay, we fall short too.

In the middle of writing this, I stopped for a brief visit with a fairly recent alum.  He wanted to make sure he popped in to update me on his life and to thank me for having been there for him in the past.  I’m blessed to say this is a frequent occurrence for the teachers here and is a testament to the value of a Christian education at Portsmouth Christian Academy.

Stephen Foley came to PCA as a full-time English teacher in 1996.  Over the years, he has served the school in a number of roles; currently, he is the Dean of Men and also teaches freshman English and Honors Junior English.  He and his wife Paula live in NH.

Ranked “#1 Private K-12 School in New Hampshire” by Niche 2019 Best Schools, 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 fifty-acre riverfront campus, PCA is a dually accredited, independent, college-preparatory day school where young people from preschool to Grade 12 are challenged to thrive academically and grow as servant-leaders prepared to impact the world for good. For more information, visit