Ranked by Niche.com as the #1 Private K-12 School in New Hampshire for five consecutive years, Portsmouth Christian Academy is the largest non-denominational Christian school in New England located on a beautiful 50-acre riverfront campus in Dover, NH. Based on a classical philosophy, PCA’s educational program is an academically rigorous college-preparatory school which enrolls international students from countries around the world.
PCA, a SEVIS approved school, is proud to offer our International Student Program and welcome international students to our school community. The purpose of the International Student Program at Portsmouth Christian Academy is to provide a positive, supportive environment for students to learn English, increase cultural awareness and understanding, build lasting relationships, and ultimately prepare for service in their world and attendance at a college of their choice.
Within the limited number of seats available to our international students, we strive for diversity and value the richness that each international student brings to our community. Our international students have represented the People’s Republic of China, South Korea, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Spain, Congo, Canada as well as many others.
PCA’s International Student Program exists to support English Language Learners (ELL) reach their full God-given potential as competent men and women of character engaging their world, having the language skills they need in terms of reading, listening, speaking, and writing English proficiency. This program encompasses and oversees the admission, orienting, assisting, teaching, and testing of ELL students. It is primarily responsible for ensuring students receive the English support they need.
Lower & Middle School Program
At the Lower and Middle School levels, our program provides immersion opportunity for students as early as grade four. Students in grades four through eight participate in our Cultural Opportunity to Master English (COME) program. As part of this program, international students are invited to participate in short-term stays during grades four and five and can enjoy year-long participation beginning in middle school (grades six through eight).
The short-term COME experience begins with a week of orientation, during which discussion of culture, characteristics of New England, and American life are intermingled with getting to know about the visiting student, his or her culture, characteristics of life, and families. Each participant is supported in preparing an “About Me and My Land” presentation to share with his or her homeroom community. The long-term COME experience begins with four weeks of orientation in discussion of school culture, executive functioning, testing, and getting to know the students in a supportive way. These international students also create information about themselves and their world to share with classmates. In all cases, this first experience is supported by an ELL instructor.
Upper School Program
At the Upper School, a majority of our international students come to PCA with the goal of preparing themselves for attending a college or university in the United States, by strengthen their academics, executive skills and fluency in English. Our International Student Program is designed to help prepare our students for success in an American college or university. Each international student is required to be enrolled as a full time student and fully immersed in PCA. Within the Upper School, PCA advocates a blend of full immersion and sheltered instruction, using the Sheltered Program Protocol (SPP), until international students reach proficient or advanced levels. The sheltered program allows students to experience typical American classes while receiving instructional support that prepares them for classroom learning. Advanced students receive most of their English language instruction from mainstream classes.
The Fine Arts curriculum here at PCA is designed to enrich the lives of students with artistic skills as well as meet the needs of those interested in pursuing further study at the college level. The program was designed to maximize artistic gifts and includes courses of study in vocal and instrumental music, theatre, and visual art.
PCA provides competitive athletic teams that represent our school with pride. Our coaches make every effort to teach not only the rules and skills necessary for each sport, but also the rules and skills necessary for life. We believe athletics are a great means through which to build character, to teach discipline, and to learn how to overcome adversity and challenges with a courageous spirit.
An important aspect of studying abroad is the opportunity to see the sites and learn about new cultures. Each year, international students take a trip, during a school vacation week, to tour the northeastern part of the United States and visit universities and colleges. In the past, this trip has included cities such as Boston, MA; Providence, RI; Hartford, CT; New York City, NY; and Washington, D.C.
Other travel opportunities include cultural exploration trips to Spain, France, Ireland, or Canada. In addition, the PCA missions club offers an annual trip. The missions club has traveled to places such as Belize, Guatemala and New York City to help people in need.
All international students are required to have agency representation in order to apply, become enrolled, and remain enrolled at Portsmouth Christian Academy. Agencies provide legal guardianship of the student and are responsible for vetting homestay’s, fulfilling enrollment and re-enrollment requirements, and visiting with the school when necessary for supporting the student both academically and behaviorally. Our agents act as a liaison between the biological parents, host parents, and school and are also responsible for managing homestay and tuition payments.
Prior to the first week of school, all new PCA international students participate in a week-long orientation. This is a valuable time where students learn:
- How to be successful at PCA
- Keys to navigating American culture
- Tips to a happy host home
This time is also used to tour the campus, as well as take placement tests for math, science, and language classes. Current international students act as advisors during the orientation days to help the new students make a successful transition to PCA.
PCA requires host family accommodations for all of our international students. This opportunity allows students to immerse themselves in the American culture and English language. Host families provide a welcoming, caring, safe, and supportive environment which allows students to assimilate quickly. Many of our host families have students at PCA or are part of our local community.
We care about the placement of each student and your agent will work diligently to ensure both the host family and the international student are satisfied with the placement. The agent also supports students throughout their stay by providing problem-solving guidance and conflict-resolution input.
Your agent will arrange airport pickup from Boston, MA; Manchester, NH; or Portland, ME upon your arrival to the United States. Your host family will also arrange transportation to and from the PCA campus each day.
Through the home-stay program, your host family will provide you with breakfast and dinner on school days and breakfast, lunch, and dinner when school is not in session. School day lunches include food that is catered by local restaurants offering four or five menu selections for each day.
For the safety and well-being of all our students, PCA requires international students obtain health insurance through the school.