There is a place in Maricopa for parents who have high expectations for their children’s education – both from academic and spiritual perspectives. 

Maricopa Christian Academy, under the direction of principal and educator Tim Ihms, is completing its second year, and Ihms wants residents to know what is growing in their town.  

The nonprofit school is located at First Baptist Church of Maricopa. Ihms said the families of MCA’s students are drawn to the school because they are looking for a strong dual education for their children. 

“We want to tell people we are here in Maricopa and are supporting parents in their quest to provide a great Christian education for their children,” Ihms said. “We are a private school, and we have high expectations for our students.” 

Ihms said families choose MCA primarily for two reasons: “First, we are a Christian school, and we believe Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior and the Bible is unerring. Second, because the education we provide is so strong, particularly in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses.”  

He illustrated his point by citing his previous school, Bios Christian Academy in Gilbert, had 90% of its graduates earn scholarships to Grand Canyon University or the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University.  

But it isn’t just academics. 

“When it comes to teaching about Christ, we have a strong reputation in that area as well.”  

The school is in the process of gaining its full accreditation and evokes a one-room schoolhouse feel in its current iteration. This year’s 15 students are taught by Ihms and range from kindergarten to 10th grade.  

Ihms said students come to MCA in various stages of academic progress. 

Tim Ihms [Brian Petersheim Jr.]
“Everything here is individualized,” he said. “Each student has their own plan, and we take them from wherever they are academically, not where they ‘should be.’ If they are behind, we get them caught up; if they’re succeeding, we help them move further ahead.” 

Ihms said that philosophy allows students to thrive at whatever level they are because they are not being compared to the other students – their progress only applies to themselves. 

“We don’t label the kids who come here,” he said. “There are no special education students, no gifted students here because every student’s curriculum is individualized. We get rid of those labels and allow the kids to excel in their education.” 

Ihms began his career as a special education teacher for 19 years before spending 20 years as principal of a number of private Christian schools. And while MCA is small now, he has a track record of growing similar schools. 

He founded Surrey Garden Christian School in Gilbert, which he said grew to 530 students in grades K-12 before he moved on to found Bios. He grew Bios from 24 students its first year to 250 in grades K-12 in just six years. 

MCA is a member of the Canyon Athletic Association, in which primarily charter schools and a half-dozen private schools compete. The school fielded a cross-country team this year, and Ihms said he expects to expand athletic opportunities as the student population grows. 

“We will be looking to grow, but we don’t have a schedule for that,” he said. “Neither of the Gilbert schools planned to grow as quickly as they did; it just happened that way. We’ll enjoy what we have, and if it grows that quick, we’ll enjoy what we have. And if not, we’ll continue to provide a great academic and religious education for the students we do have.” 

He said the school will likely double to about 30 students for the 2023-24 school year and hire its first teacher to teach grades K-3.  

The personal approach at MCA extends beyond the students.  

“We strive to build relationships with our parents,” Ihms said. “We want to be able to talk to the kids and support their families in raising their children in a Christian home. We also provide an environment where academics are very strong and so is the Christian education. We are working to develop well-rounded, well-educated students.”  

18705 N. John Wayne Parkway