Portsmouth Christian Academy (PCA) is making big plans for next year. While much of the details of the 2020-2021 school year are uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PCA is moving forward with plans to add several courses to the Upper School schedule in the fall. In response to student interest, the fall course offerings list will include five new additions: Botany, Zoology, Election 2020, Engineering, and Jazz Band.
These courses were developed based on student interest, faculty expertise, and an identified need for real-world knowledge. Colleen Geller, College Planning Director at PCA, says, “It’s wonderful having such a talented and proactive faculty. They have seen opportunities to share their knowledge and develop curriculum that provides our students with real-world learning from their own life experiences.”
Until now, some of these subjects were taught simply as one-time lessons within other classes. Jessica Graustein, PCA Science Teacher, says, “Many of my students thoroughly enjoyed outside days when I could integrate hands-on outdoor lessons into the standard curriculum. I wanted to develop a course for those students – the ones who are tactile and movement-oriented.”
Graustein, who will teach Zoology and Botany, says PCA’s campus further inspired the addition of these two classes. “PCA sits on almost 50 acres, and the grounds provide habitats for a diverse range of species. It just made sense to develop a field-based course to introduce students to the natural communities that will impact their lives and future professions.”
Similarly, the Election 2020 course was developed out of an identified need for a deeper dive into the responsibilities of citizenship and principles of democracy. Former Head of School Dennis Runey, who will be teaching this course, says, “Some of the important goals of the course will be to develop critical thinking skills, master the art of collegial debate and persuasion (both in writing and orally), and to prepare our graduates to understand, and participate in, the political system called representative democracy.”
Abigail Allen, PCA Math Teacher, will be teaching the Engineering course this fall. Allen, who has a background in mechanical engineering, says that she found high school courses to be critical in preparing her for college-level engineering courses.
“From my experience going through a high school engineering program and then majoring in mechanical engineering, I found that having a basic knowledge of engineering principles, as well as knowing computer software that is widely used in the field, made it easier to transition to college-level learning and gave me a better depth of knowledge after making it through the program. I also loved getting to have classes in high school that were very hands-on and interesting to me, and I’ve always wanted to share that through teaching.”
Finally, Jazz Band, which has been offered as an extra-curricular opportunity in the past, will be offered as an option for fulfilling a Fine Arts requirement. Katrina Veno, who will be teaching this course, says, “Band and Orchestra, which were previously offered for our instrumental students, are very different from Jazz Band. In Jazz, the differences in style, experimentation, and creativity that improvisation requires helps students to become well-rounded musicians. It is also a great community of people who want to explore music further in a more relaxed environment than a traditional large ensemble.”
Mike Runey, Head of School at Portsmouth Christian Academy, says, “These courses are just another way that we are making good on our promise to prepare students for life. PCA graduates will leave here and pursue different careers and life journeys. It’s our job to help prepare them to serve and lead. Part of our job here is to help students identify their passions and teach them to think critically. With that foundation, and a heart for Christ, they’re on the right track to impact the world for good.”
These courses will be available to Portsmouth Christian Academy Upper School students who have completed any necessary pre-requisite requirements. Additionally, through PCA’s Homeschool Connection program, local homeschool students will be welcome to enroll part-time in these classes, assuming space remains in the classes and pre-requisite requirements are met.
With questions regarding part-time or full-time enrollment at PCA, please contact the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.