Rachel Bagenstose (Parent and Staff)

Some think you have to choose between great academics and a Christian education. At HHCA, we do both exceptionally well...
The academic program at Hilton Head Christian Academy is built upon a biblical worldview, a commitment to excellence, and a vision to bring out the best in every student. The course of study engages students to think critically and deeply, and it provides opportunities for collaboration, the development of decision-making strategies, and the cultivation of personal responsibility. Ultimately, the goal is to prepare students to live a life that makes a positive impact for the kingdom of God. In addition to traditional markers of academic excellence, such as a robust selection AP and Honors courses, our students are also afforded the opportunity for advanced individualized instruction through our capstone Diploma with Distinction program and program internships. Meanwhile, critical thinking skills are aligned and developed at all levels through our RADAR program.

Empowering Minds Through Academic Excellence

List of 3 items.

  • Educational Credo

    The Difference
    The idea of a school as an institution, complete with business model and corporate structure is a relatively recent development. Much more common in Western history, from Plato’s School of Athens to the cathedral schools and emerging universities of the late middle ages and the Renaissance, has been the idea of a school as a community of individuals sharing a common worldview and approach to learning. While the former institutional model is a reality of the 21st century, one of the things that we value most about HHCA is the common vision of the latter approach. We value the community and a common worldview that is distinctly Christian, and we share a common philosophy when it comes to learning.

    Boiled down to a few words, this is our educational credo: We believe that learning at HHCA should be rich, transferrable, project-oriented, collaborative, responsive, and Christ-centered.
    • Rich: To say that learning should be rich is to say that it should add value to the individual. Rich learning is engaging and timely. It reaches students in their zone of proximal learning and stretches them to think deeply about the content under consideration.
    • Transferrable: Learning that is transferrable provides students with real-world skills that extend across multiple disciplines and beyond the classroom. It emphasizes the application of skills in a variety of settings.
    • Project-oriented: We want our kids to be able to do real things beyond merely filling in bubbles on tests. We want them to create, to take risks, and to take ownership of their education. We want them to leave their fingerprints on the products of their learning. Meaningful projects require students to hone a variety of skills in addition to diving deeply into course content.
    • Collaborative: Human beings live and thrive in community. Collaborative work allows students to engage each other, to engage each other’s ideas, to stretch each other, and to contribute to something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Collaboration is founded upon the principle of individual responsibility and extends the responsibility of the individual outside of oneself for the benefit of others.
    • Responsive: Education that is responsive takes the needs and development of each student as an individual seriously. It provides learning opportunities that are targeted to the development of students, taking seriously learning differences between individual students. It pushes students to reach their unique God-given potential.
    • Christ-centered: Education that is Christ-centered holds Christ as preeminent. As the inevitable questions about life arise, it is an education in which those who are in a position to speak into the lives of students - coaches, teachers, and mentors – continually and consistently point students towards Christ. It is an education that encourages students to engage in the discussion and guides them to make the commitment to Christ their own. It provides the tools and opportunities for a maturing and deepening relationship with Christ.
    Obviously, when these principles are taken together, this picture is a far cry from what recent graduate Ellis Cotter referred to as the “assembly line” educational model that he experienced in other schools prior to coming to HHCA. It’s a different approach, and it requires teachers who are wholeheartedly committed to the lifelong success of their students – teachers who care about their students as individuals and sacrifice their time and energy accordingly. Our community was encouraged during this year’s Evening of Celebration as we listened to our graduating seniors reflect upon the impact their teachers have made in their lives educationally, spiritually, and relationally. That impact is what HHCA is all about, and it adds fundamental value to an HHCA education.
  • Target Graduate Profile

    The target HHCA graduate is:
    • Able to think critically and with agility
    • Articulate and engaging in communication
    • Culturally and technologically literate
    • Equipped to identify and pursue one's talents
    • Able to share one's faith
    • A team player and able to collaborate
    • Honorable and filled with integrity
    • Courageous and willing to take risks
    • Spiritually Authentic
    • Compassionate
    • Innovative
    • A servant leader who has the ability to impact one's community
    • Relentless in the pursuit of excellence
    • A life-long learner
  • Measuring Academic Excellence

    How is the effectiveness of an educational program evaluated? For most parents, this is a difficult question to answer. Most default to standardized test scores such as the SAT or, here in South Carolina, MAP scores. While these types of tests might provide some indications about the population in a school, they ultimately lack the ability to provide indications about the effectiveness of an educational program in relation to that population.

    For example, let’s take school A: the average SAT score for school A places it in the 85th percentile. On the surface, that’s pretty good. However, this school also has done some cognitive ability testing, which demonstrated that the cognitive ability of its students places them in the 90th percentile. All of a sudden, that 85th percentile SAT score, far from being an indication of a strong academic program, is an indication that the students aren’t performing at a level that matches their cognitive ability.

    Conversely, let’s take school B: the average SAT score for school B also places it in the 85th percentile. However, the cognitive ability testing places this population of students in the 80th percentile. In this case the 85th percentile SAT score is an indication that the students were performing at a level well above what would be predicted by their cognitive ability.

    These schools have the same SAT, but there is a huge difference in what it tells us about the effectiveness of the educational program in question.

    Which school would you want your student going to – a school that adds value by extending students beyond their natural potential, or a school that settles for a “good” testing number regardless of the implications about student potential. Obviously, most of us would want our kids at a school that pushes them beyond what otherwise might be their natural aptitude.

    All too often schools focus on the number rather than the student. Unfortunately, this has often led parents to a poor understanding of what the testing numbers actually mean for their students as individuals.

    Please understand, the easiest way for private schools to raise their test scores is to raise their admissions criteria and exclude kids who struggle. However, this obviously doesn’t mean that their educational program has improved, and it certainly doesn’t mean that their program is improving the kids’ education. It just means that they’re being picky about who to include in their sample. It’s far more impressive to do the hard work of working with kids as individuals, helping them to realize their potential.
    At HHCA we are committed to making sure that our students have a great education. This means that we look at them as individuals, and that we measure success in terms of students meeting and expanding their potential. And we actually measure this using cognitive ability testing as an integral part of our standardized testing program.

    So how is the effectiveness of an educational program evaluated? Done right, it compares actual performance to aptitude by looking at standardized test scores in conjunction with cognitive ability. Anything less is missing the point.

Hilton Head Christian Academy

Hilton Head Christian Academy is a Christ-centered College Preparatory School serving grades Kindergarten through 12th.