Oklahoma Christian Academy’s mission is to assist the family and the church in providing a Christ-centered education, equipping students to contribute to our world. OCA offers small class sizes and a safe learning environment for PreK through 12th grade.
2020 Family Favorites Finalist - Best Private Schools, Secondary
Read below to learn more from Will Blanchard, president of Oklahoma Christian Academy
What is your background and how long have you been Head of School at Oklahoma Christian Academy?
I served in development, marketing, and strategic operations at the university-level for thirteen years prior to joining Oklahoma Christian Academy in June of 2020. My education is in English Literature, Business, and Educational Leadership.
What is your educational philosophy and how does that impact the students at Oklahoma Christian Academy?
As a Christian school, we believe all knowledge points to God and the lessons we learn are best used to love our neighbors well and to bring light, energy, and imagination to our community. We challenge our students to consider life deeply—we are not satisfied with shallow thinking, shallow relationships, or shallow purpose. And, if you visit our campus, you will see we are walking with our students toward depth across four fronts: (1) LOVE – How are you equipping yourself to love people better? (2) EXPLORE – Are you regularly learning new ideas and fueling your curiosity? (3) RISK – Belief before fear; are you asking “why?” or “why not?” (4) CELEBRATE – Life is good! How are you intentionally living in joy, hope, and celebration?
What has changed in education the most since you started? What are the current trends and where is education going?
The availability of micro-learning for hard skills has never been better. From almost any device, our students instinctually know how to find information and short lessons to develop new skills and solve problems. As digital natives, they engage content differently than generations before and they are quick to second-guess classroom norms of the past. This is good and bad. I think we can learn from YouTube, social media, and gaming how we can make school even more engaging and intrinsically motivating for our students. Hybridized virtual and augmented reality learning environments will grow in coming years. I believe course calendars will change, too, as we give students more flexibility to pursue micro- and macro-learning projects that are better tailored to their time and goals. However, as we make these changes, I believe we will see hunger grow for the human element. Generation Alpha has arguably already outpaced us in mastery of virtual environments, but they need spaces for nurturing soft skills and connecting with “the real”—developing empathy, interpersonal engagement, habits of rest, and more. I suspect we will see both coding classes and yoga classes on the rise.
How has the pandemic changed things at Oklahoma Christian Academy?
As it has for many schools, the pandemic has challenged us to enhance our skills and our infrastructure for bimodal learning (online and in-person), campus health and safety, and communication. We have learned much and I feel like we are even stronger and better-informed educators than we were when the pandemic started. The unknowns of COVID-19 have also brought our community together in remarkable ways. Our families want to stay in school, and they have collaborated with us and with one another (graciously and at all hours of the day) to keep OCA safe and moving forward all year. I am so impressed and humbled by our people.
How is Oklahoma Christian Academy meeting the current needs of your students and families?
This year our students’ most pressing need is arguably normalcy—consistent momentum, rhythm, and energy in their schoolwork and their community. We were blessed to stay open five days a week for the entire fall, and our small class sizes and Christian atmosphere equipped us to respond with agility to moments of community and individual stress. OCA was a fantastic home base for journeying through 2020 and it will continue to be that for 2021. Not only did our students survive 2020, they continued to excel. Whether that’s our Cross Country and Cheer teams competing at state finals, our student musicians qualifying for All-State Choir and CODA Honor Band, or a top-three finish for our Academic Team at regional competitions, the Eagles have done more than persevere.
What makes Oklahoma Christian Academy stand out among all the education choices parents have?
Christ is at our core. Parents looking for a learning environment that emphasizes God in all things, considers students as family, and expects all students (whether 3 years old or 65 years young) to actively contribute to light-bringing in our city will find a great fit at OCA.
What are you most proud of during your tenure at Oklahoma Christian Academy?
I’m proud to see our students thriving in this unusual season. When I arrived at OCA in June 2020, we did not know how to do school mid-pandemic and we were discussing the risks of losing many of our students. Instead, we have seen enrollment grow by more than 20 percent—and, for the first time I can remember, our students are fighting to stay in school. Despite the challenges, it is such a privilege to serve these students and their families.
How do you engage parents/families in your students’ educations?
We have over 500 students, but the Eagles are close-knit. Our elementary and secondary principals directly engage with all of our parents, as do I. During this time of quarantine, it is not uncommon for our elementary principal, Mrs. Kelsey, to hand deliver homework and tools to a child’s door—and that level of care and connection transcends moments of crisis. Our teachers communicate with parents weekly and collaborate with families on the individual learning needs of their students.
What is the most unique educational opportunity offered by Oklahoma Christian Academy?
In our secondary programs, we run an innovation lab all year, in which students develop creative responses to real-world opportunities and problems. This culture of active contribution trickles down to our elementary, also. We have a tradition of a children’s business fair, in which our youngest students test their mettle running their own short-term storefronts and then donate their proceeds to local charity.