“Every challenge that I faced, I decided to take it as an opportunity for growth and change, and a chance to get into a new chapter rather than being boggled down by it. This does not mean that I didn’t stress or panic at times, but it means that I had the opportunity to get up and prove myself.”
This courage to face adversities and blossom amidst them has made Phoebe A. Wasfy a global educational leader today. Her role as the Principal of Philopateer Christian College has changed the lives of 1000s of students till now and has profoundly transformed the way students usually learn.
Starting her career with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Religious Studies, then going forward to do her Masters of Education, to becoming the principal of PCC, she was always motivated by the motto of “creating a difference.” What kept her going during her journey of becoming a teacher was the inspirational life of her maternal grandmother, who went against the tides of time and impacted a huge batch of students who recall her even today with gleaming eyes.
With PCC, she is preparing students to become well-rounded leaders of tomorrow by helping them believe and develop their God-given talents in the right environment, guided by highly qualified teachers. She is achieving this by collaborating with her team of teachers to lay a solid foundation in all areas of the school, allowing its students to progress to top universities nationally and internationally after graduation.
Phoebe, as an empathetic leader and educational omniscient, ensures that she does not treat her students as walking textbooks, but as individuals who are equally learned and talented to face all that life has to offer. Therefore, the school organizes annual productions, global humanitarian trips, local and global fundraising student-led initiatives, sports, national writing competitions, national art competitions, national financial literacy competitions, global math competitions, and many more such activities that have been shaping students into global leaders.
While the student body has grown over the years and the programmes have expanded to include high school, what still guides their success is the atmosphere they present –where teachers care.
As Phoebe strongly believes, “In order for things to happen and happen with a difference, one must believe in what they are doing and dream big,” let us learn how she is facilitating this with PCC by delving into her inspiriting story below!
Roots of Inspiration
Coming from the country of great civilization – Egypt, and an environment where the will always makes a way, she always stayed true to achieving her dream of becoming a teacher. She found her inspiration in her maternal grandmother who was a teacher in the 1950s in Egypt. Phoebe shares, “A time when women were not usually educated, my grandmother was going against the norm at the time and was a teacher.”
When Phoebe grew older and moved to North America, she got the chance to meet some of her grandmother’s former students who had graduated from her class years before. After her meet with them, all Phoebe could experience was the pride in their eyes that spoke louder than their words as they spoke of her maternal grandmother.
She says, “With this amazing role model in my life, my passion for education grew with me year after year until I was able to reach the beginning of my journey in education when I became a teacher in the early 2000s.”
Phoebe found her path to spread her knowledge and expertise from the time she stepped into PCC. Her story with PCC began when she was hired as a new graduate out of Teacher’s College in 2005. Although she began working as a teacher in the classroom, what carved her as a leader was when she learned that the then-school principal saw a leader in her and took steps along with that thought in mind.
Phoebe, with a combination of her passion for her vocation as a teacher and her leadership skills, along with lots of post-graduate studies, began to climb into the educational leadership roles in the school. Phoebe says, “My love and faith in Philopateer Christian College have helped me lead the school to earn many recognitions and placed us in a very high level in the educational world both locally and internationally.”
Reminiscing her initial days at the school, she shares, “When I took on the leadership role at the school, I worked with my team of teachers to build together a solid foundation in all areas of the school. Our numbers have doubled since, and our school has expanded even through the pandemic.”
A School Ahead of its Time – Building Futures with Interactive Learning
Philopateer Christian College is a Pre-K to gr.12 school that began in the city of Mississauga, Ontario, by the Egyptian Coptic Community in 1999. In its inaugural year, around 40 students (K-8 at that time) were schooled in the basement of the Canadian Coptic Centre.
As the Principal and a witness to the school’s journey, Phoebe informs, “Over the years, our student body grew, and the programs expanded to include high school. The school was then moved to a large facility that has now been our home building since 2009. Our students have graduated from our school and have moved on to top universities nationally and internationally and have now become leaders in different professions all over the world.”
At Philopateer Christian College, the vision is to prepare its students to become well-rounded leaders of tomorrow, following in their Master’s footsteps. The institution does this by helping its students believe in and develop their God-given talents in the right environment, guided by highly qualified teachers.
“Students are not a textbook walking on feet but a unique person with strengths and weaknesses that make them unique,” says Phoebe. Therefore, it is of ultimate priority for them to provide their students with opportunities to expand their thoughts as well as their talents.
The school’s annual productions, global humanitarian trips, local and global fundraising student-led initiatives, sports, national writing competitions, national art competitions, national financial literacy competitions, global math competitions, and many more such activities make this happen for its students.
Valuing a Right Classroom Atmosphere
Educational values are not just built by books but by the atmosphere, children receive while they are at school. Considering this, PCC provides its parents and students with a cordial environment where teachers care.
The teachers at PCC understand the responsibility they have towards the students; they teach and take those extra 100 miles to ensure that the concepts are learned and understood. The institution visualizes its students as its future ambassadors, as well as, in the future, of the entire world. So, when Phoebe states that the school invests in its children extensively, what she also means is that they are shaping tomorrow’s leaders.
Winning through Challenges
When Covid hit, the world of education froze. Many challenges arose. But Phoebe believed that though challenges are part of every step in one’s life, yet life is not about challenges; it is about how one handles them. She comments, “I must say that over the years, there have been many things that have come up along the way, but as the saying goes, what doesn’t break you makes you stronger.”
During those times, Phoebe shares, “At the beginning, I must admit it was difficult to maneuver, but by 1st June, a decision was made that wrote a new chapter in our school’s history.”
Together they turned the challenging situation around and successfully created a fully virtual high school recruiting students from all around the world. She highlights, “While high schools stopped giving exams due to the challenges of Covid, our school invested in online examination portals, which allowed us to administer exams for all students.”
With this, they actively indulged in digitized methods of education, as this year, in their third year of the virtual high school, they have inaugurated a synchronous method to go hand in hand with the asynchronous method they have by installing 3D cameras in their classrooms, giving students from overseas the opportunity to join live classes.
Phoebe rightly points out, “What could have been a crisis, PCC utilized technology to create a new chapter in its story.”
Words to Inculcate – Teaching Creates Other Professions
In education, one needs to acknowledge that there is a huge responsibility to shape the lives of students today, who will be either doctors, teachers, or world leaders tomorrow.
Phoebe remarks, “This on its own brings into the light the caliber of the profession. Hence, coming into this profession, one must take it on with respect and reverence. As someone once said teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.”
Stepping Ahead – Dreams will Lead Us to the Sky
Talking about where she sees herself in the next few years, Phoebe says, “Being an educational leader is my past and my future.”
Ever since a very young age, she has always wanted to become a teacher. As she got into the profession and her role grew into a school principal, it became possible for her to impact 400 students at a time rather than 15 in her class back then.
She says, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow. It is through God’s work in my life; He used me to grow into the educational leader I am today, and I know that He will continue to help me grow in the profession and make a difference in many more lives.”
As for the school, she shares that they have many dreams. Phoebe briefs, “We are dreaming of opening a second campus overseas. We are looking at expanding our virtual campus and even making it as an official entity in different parts of the world as part of our international educational systems.”
Throughout the past nine years as the principal, she has strongly known that in order for things to happen and happen with a difference, one must believe and dream big.
Well, who can pause moments in life, hence she says, “Our dreams will never stop, and dreaming big is what will help us reach for the sky.”
Leading the Education World – Phoebe A. Wasfy
Phoebe A. Wasfy is the Principal of Philopateer Christian College (PCC), one of the fastest-growing private Christian schools in Canada, and a well-recognized member of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).
Phoebe, born in Alexandria, Egypt, immigrated to North America at the age of nine. She then graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Religious Studies (University of Toronto 2002). Later, she completed her Professional Program in Education (D’Youville College, New York, USA 2004). In the process, she pursued additional qualifications in “Reading,” “History,” “Religious Studies,” and “Teaching Kindergarten-Grade 12,” as well as completed her Principal Qualification Courses (PQC) in 2011.
Phoebe received her Master of Education (MEd) (University of Western, Ontario 2014) and completed a Higher Education Teaching Certificate from Harvard University, USA, in 2019.
Apart from her academic interests, Phoebe enjoys interacting with other educators, students and parents as well as she is committed to fostering leadership and professional development among her staff.
Phoebe heads many initiatives and is responsible for the school youth missionary trips globally while partnering with other governments, worldwide charity groups, and global aid organizations. She has recently initiated the first fundraising initiative led by a group of 16- and 17-year-old students for the Egyptian presidential initiative Decent Life, adding to her list of achievements.
Awards and Recognitions
- An active member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) and the Ontario Principals Council (OPC).
- Nominated for the Order of Ontario 2019 and 2020, which is one of the highest recognition for community services awarded by the Province of Ontario and its Governor General.
- Inducted into The Marquis Who’s Who in America in recognition of her professional integrity and outstanding achievement in her vocation.
- The recipient of the Vision Builder Women of Inspiration Award 2021.
- Recipient of the Arab Women of Excellence Awards in Academia from Life Transformation Academy (Calgary, Alberta – Canada).
- An adjunct Faculty for the Youth Ministry Certification Program (YMCP) offered by the Canadian Coptic Center in affiliation with YouthTrain, New Zealand.
- Phoebe was chosen to participate in the World Youth Forum 2018 in Sharm ElSheikh, Egypt.