Calvary Christian Academy: Empowering Students Spiritually, Academically, and Socially

Calvary Christian Academy
Calvary Christian Academy

Florida often hailed as the “Sunshine State,” is also basking in the glow of an educational transformation that is providing its students with a myriad of opportunities to excel. With a commitment to innovation, inclusivity, and high academic standards, Florida has positioned itself as a leader in shaping the future of education in the United States.

Calvary Christian Academy has had the honor of serving the South Florida community since 2000, when its main campus in Fort Lauderdale was founded on the 75-acre property of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (CCFL). The school’s launch resulted from prayers and a vision casted by church leaders and other local educators who desired to see lives changed by quality, Christ-centered education in partnership with Christ-following families.

CCA began as a Preschool–6th-grade school with approximately 400 students, and the first graduating senior class turned its tassels in 2007. Since then, the school has grown to serve over 3,000 students across its four campuses located throughout Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties, making CCA one of the largest Christian schools in the country.

Empowering Students Spiritually, Academically, and Socially

CCA’s mission is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ through a biblical school environment that prepares students to glorify God spiritually, academically, and socially.” The vision the organization has set forth is “Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders to be World-Changers for Christ.” In partnership with Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, the following core values have been established to promote a biblically healthy workplace culture for staff: Humility, Soul Keeping, Collaboration, Pursuing Excellence, Empowering Leaders, Celebration, and Authentic Love. These core values have played an instrumental role in creating a consistent brand experience for CCA families on all campuses, as all faculty and staff are held accountable to uphold these core values.

Many families are drawn to CCA because of its commitment to biblical values and academic excellence. The school achieves this through a dedicated Discipleship department, which offers various faith-building opportunities, including weekly Chapel services, small groups for Upper School students, spiritual class retreats, and international mission trips.

A Renowned Christian School

The school’s reliability and dedication were formally recognized in 2023 when the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) granted CCA its prestigious Exemplary Accreditation status. This distinction, awarded to only 19 other Christian schools nationwide, stands as a testament to the hard work and commitment demonstrated by CCA’s faculty, staff, and administration on a daily basis. These education professionals, known for their expertise and ministry-minded approach, have also voted CCA as a Best Christian Workplace for seven years through a third-party survey administered by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute.

Robust Measures to Foster a Unique Environment

From an operational standpoint, CCA prioritizes the safety and security of its students and staff. The school has invested over $1 million since 2017 to fortify its campuses with robust safety measures, including a full-time police presence, strategically placed security gates and fencing, card-enabled access points, monitored security cameras, mandatory background checks for visitors and volunteers, and the use of the CrisisGo app for reporting and communicating suspicious activity and safety threats.

CCA’s mission-minded approach lies at the core of everything the school does. The school fosters a learning environment that prioritizes spiritual growth and academic excellence. This dedication to its mission is reflected in the Fort Lauderdale campus’ impressive 98% re-enrollment rate, exceeding the industry average of 90% and indicating a strong sense of community and contentment among families. Moreover, the school employs a centralized communications team responsible for reviewing all written messages on behalf of the institution, ensuring a consistent and high-quality brand experience for families across all campuses.

Staying Abreast with Time

A focus on strategic planning and forward-thinking enables CCA to stay ahead of the curve, continuously refining the curriculum, teaching methods, and campus facilities to equip students with relevant skills for an ever-changing world. These factors, bolstered by the community’s generous financial support, cultivate a flourishing and enriching learning environment.

CCA fosters a positive learning environment through the cultivation of strong relationships among teachers, staff, students, and parents. Weekly small group meetings encourage open dialogue among Upper School students, fostering a sense of belonging and trust. Within the classrooms, students are encouraged to engage in discussions, critical thinking, creativity, and question-asking.  Clear and achievable learning goals, coupled with well-defined behavioral expectations, are emphasized to provide a solid foundation for student growth. CCA is also intentional about celebrating student effort and successes, reinforcing a positive atmosphere that motivates students to excel.

Keeping Students Engrossed

CCA employs a wide range of teaching methodologies and approaches to actively engage students and enhance their learning experience. Students benefit from interactive lessons, project-based learning, and the flipped classroom approach, which encourage active participation and deeper subject understanding. Teachers promote inquiry-based and collaborative learning to promote the development of critical thinking and social-emotional skills. Authentic assessments mirror real-life experiences, making learning relevant and meaningful. The use of thought-provoking questions guided by the Socratic Method engages students in critical thinking and independent problem-solving. Additionally, the school integrates technology tools and resources into the classroom, enriching the learning process and enhancing students’ digital literacy.

To support students’ personal development, CCA has a team of school counselors dedicated to helping students grow spiritually, academically, and socially in the form of one-on-one and group advising. Across all grade levels, discipleship programming encourages spiritual growth and character building. Sixth-grade students participate in an evidence-based early prevention program called “Too Good for Drugs,” which equips them with the knowledge and tools to make positive choices. The school presents community service opportunities to its students, including a high school mentoring program with local public and charter schools, encouraging them to embrace humility and an others-minded attitude.

Recognizing the significance of parental involvement, the school promptly informs parents of any serious concerns related to their child’s well-being. Through this collaborative effort, students’ social and emotional needs are consistently addressed, ensuring a supportive and caring environment for their overall development.

Catering to a Diverse Student Base

At CCA, several programs and initiatives have proven particularly successful in improving student outcomes. The implementation of the “Project Lead the Way” STEM curriculum across all grade levels on CCA’s Fort Lauderdale campus has been instrumental in fostering students’ interest and proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Additionally, smaller class sizes enable teachers to cater to students’ diverse learning needs more effectively, providing personalized attention and support.

The school fosters a strong sense of community by inviting parents and guardians to participate in various parent-centric events, many of which are planned by the Parent-to-Parent Fellowship group. Academic team meetings are scheduled with teachers and parents when necessary, facilitating open dialogue and cooperation to support student success. Additionally, personal counselor communication with parents is initiated when students show signs of academic or social stress.

CCA, situated in the vibrant melting pot of South Florida, values an ethnically diverse learning community. The school celebrates racial and ethnic diversity through annual events like Culture Week at its Hollywood campus and the annual International Day Chapel on its Fort Lauderdale campus. These events also offer students and staff the opportunity to learn more about and appreciate diverse cultures.

Additionally, the school actively encourages the participation and integration of students in its Varying Exceptionalities (VE) program, ensuring they can engage in various activities such as Fine Arts productions and an annual baseball game.

Moreover, CCA embraces diversity on an international level by enrolling students from other countries through its International Student Program, further contributing to a globally aware student community.

Reflecting on Progress

At CCA, educational programs are assessed and measured through a comprehensive approach. Upper School students undergo annual spiritual assessments. Additionally, students in 5th, 8th, and 12th grades complete E-portfolios, which provide them with an opportunity to reflect on their spiritual, academic, and social progress in front of an audience.

Academic performance is evaluated through considerations of standardized test scores as well as AP exam scores and pass rates. The school values the perspectives of its community and conducts annual surveys among staff, students, alumni, and parents to gauge their satisfaction and perceptions.

Furthermore, college acceptances and placements of graduates serve as indicators of the success of CCA’s college preparatory curriculum.

Accomplishments to Cherish

CCA has witnessed noteworthy achievements and success stories among its students and athletic programs. The school’s nationally ranked athletic programs have produced exceptional athletes, such as Andrew Painter, who was selected 13th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2021 MLB Draft, and Taylor Hendricks, chosen 9th overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2023 NBA Draft. These accomplishments reflect the commitment and dedication of the coaches and staff at CCA in fostering athletic excellence alongside strong character in their students.

High School students at CCA are prepared for higher education and future careers through a comprehensive array of programs and resources. Individualized attention and guidance are central to CCA’s approach. Each high school student is assigned to a school counselor who assists them in charting their future path. Upperclassmen are required to schedule one-on-one appointments with their counselor, ensuring personalized support tailored to each student’s aspirations and goals.

Helping Students find the Right Path

To support high school students and parents in the college search and planning process, CCA provides access to Scoir, an online platform focused on finding the right fit for higher education. Additionally, the school provides access to Advanced Placement (AP) and dual enrollment courses, which expose students to collegiate-level learning during high school. College fairs and workshops hosted on campus also serve as valuable resources to families.

Lastly, CCA’s Fort Lauderdale campus offers unique endorsement programs that allow high school students to develop expertise in areas of interest, similar to college minors. These endorsement programs demonstrate students’ commitment to specific fields (STEM, Fine Arts, Ministry, Psychology, and World Languages).

In its vision for the future, CCA has outlined plans for further improvement and growth in the coming years. The school recently expanded into Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties by launching two new campuses and is open to additional expansion opportunities that may arise. As part of its ongoing development, CCA is actively involved in capital campaign fundraising for the construction of new buildings, including a Fine Arts Scene Shop, a Fieldhouse to serve the Athletics community, an athletic compound, and a Lower School building.

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