Phoebe A. Wasfy, Principal, Philopateer Christian College

Phoebe A. Wasfy is a multi-award-winning educational leader and experienced board member with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. She is the principal at Philopateer Christian College (PCC), one of the fastest-growing private schools in Canada. Her love for academia and active involvement in the field has earned her multiple prestigious awards and accolades, including the Arab Women of Excellence Award in Academia, Woman of Inspiration: Vision Builder Award, and Most Inspirational Woman of the Year. Recently, Phoebe became the first Canadian Egyptian to be awarded presidential recognition by the Egyptian President, Abdelfatah El-Sisi, for her role in Educational reform and for being chosen in Canada as one of 100 women of inspiration.

In addition to her principalship duties, Phoebe is an Adjunct Faculty for the Youth Ministry Certification Program (YMCP) offered by the Canadian Coptic Center in affiliation with Youth Train, New Zealand. She is also an active member of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) and the Ontario Principals Council (OPC). A self-confessed-passionate teacher, Phoebe’s boundless enthusiasm and commitment to nurturing the minds of the next generation of leaders is infectious. She is an educator who imparts knowledge by understanding the needs of her students, even as she continues to kindle a sense of curiosity, critical thinking, and personal growth in them. With her genuine belief in their potential, Phoebe empowers her students to soar to new heights and become the architects of a brighter future.

A journey from a Passionate Teacher to a Visionary Leader

Phoebe was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and immigrated to North America at the age of nine. Growing up, she was inspired by her maternal grandmother, Matilda Gobran, who worked as a teacher in Egypt from the 1950s until her retirement in the early 80s. Mrs. Matilda’s students still speak of her today and remember her role in their lives. For Phoebe, her grandmother’s impact on the lives of her students fascinated her. From a young age, Phoebe wanted to become a teacher herself. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in History and Religious Studies (University of Toronto 2002) and completed her Professional Program in Education (D’Youville College, New York, USA 2004).

Finally turning her dream into reality, Phoebe began her career as a teacher at PCC in 2005. Then on, she was a force to be reckoned with; she pursued her passion, inspired students, motivated colleagues, identified existing lacunae in educational reforms, and created new avenues for learning. A true educational leader in every sense. In 2014, Phoebe took on the role of Principal at PCC.

Philopateer Christian College: Preparing Well-Rounded Leaders for Tomorrow

Established in 1999, Philopateer Christian College is the first private school in North America founded by the Coptic Egyptian community and open to all students. It has received the title “Best Private School” in the City of Mississauga for four consecutive years.

PCC’s mission is to educate and empower young people, transforming them into individuals whose spiritual, academic, and physical attributes complement each other. Here, students are empowered to believe in and develop their God-given talents in the right environment, guided by highly qualified teachers.

Roles and Responsibilities

Phoebe’s primary responsibility as a school principal is leading all members of the school team to ensure the students’ success. Her primary goal is to ascertain that the students are groomed into well-rounded young individuals ready to embark on life’s journey and impact the world positively in all their endeavors. She aspires to use the model she has created with her team at PCC over the past 25 years and help reform education worldwide.

Overcoming Challenges

One of Phoebe’s biggest challenges is creating and maintaining a balanced educational environment that helps students, teachers, and families grow and impact the world. She admits to having certain times when this vision gets hindered by the staff who are not on the same page or feel that curriculum is the only important part of the school life that they can be responsible for. Parents who are not involved or overly involved are another challenge. Despite these challenges and many more, what truly matters to Phoebe are PCC’s students, their learning journeys, and their bright futures. Under Phoebe’s leadership, PCC remains equipped in every way to overcome challenges and stay true to its values, mission, and vision.

Staying Updated with the Education Trends

As one of the fastest-growing private schools in Canada, PCC has developed a system to ensure its curriculum remains relevant with the changing times. Phoebe mentions, “We have a school portal through which teachers upload all documents, assessments, attendance, explanations, presentations, grades, etc., which altogether helps the student, parents, and school stay together to ensure that accountability is formed. In addition, on a monthly basis, a long-range plan is created by the teachers and submitted to the administration to help the teachers and administration work together to ensure the covering of the curriculum. For elementary schools, teachers provide a week at a glance to help keep all parties informed.

Integrating Technology into Educational Practices

During the pandemic and in the midst of the chaos, PCC took an extremely brave step. It created a fully online high school platform and successfully recruited students from across the globe. Phoebe considers technology to be a vital part of the classroom and something that keeps them as educators on their toes to continue to improve and work with it in a proper and empowering way.

Continuous Professional Development of Teachers

PCC encourages its staff to learn new skills and techniques through additional professional development courses as well as any enrichment programs that help them empower themselves and their students.

Encouraging Creativity & Innovation in Students

One of the qualities that makes Phoebe an exceptional educational leader is her drive for creativity and innovation. She is someone who is always ready to explore, experiment, and take risks, all the while keeping her students’ learning journeys in mind. She also considers out-of-the-box thinking to be a great way that helps them as a school become unique and empowered in every aspect.  Recently, she initiated the first fundraising initiative led by a group of 16 and 17-year-old students for the Egyptian presidential initiative Decent Life. She also initiated Arabic-accredited courses in support of the Egyptian presidential initiative, ‘Etkalem Araby.’

Celebrating & Cherishing Career Milestones

Throughout Phoebe’s remarkable career trajectory, there have been numerous milestones that she is extremely proud of and grateful for. However, one of the most recent experiences that empowered and motivated her was being awarded presidential recognition by the Egyptian President, Abdelfatah El-Sisi, for her role in Educational reform and being chosen in Canada as one of 100 women of inspiration.

For Phoebe, this recognition was like a beginning of a new chapter. On June 10th, 2023, she received a call from the Egyptian presidential office, which left her in awe. Phoebe shares, “It started off like any other Saturday, but that phone call was a trigger to something extremely exciting as it was an invitation to an event in Alexandria, Egypt, where I was born to receive an award of recognition from the Egyptian President, Abdelfattah El Sisi, for my work in Educational reform as well as being chosen in Canada as one of 100 women of inspiration.” As excited as she was, she remembered having PCC’s graduation ceremony. “It was then I realized that there are priorities in the life of a principal that only a principal would understand,” adds Phoebe.

Soon, Phoebe arranged everything and went to attend and receive this very honoring and humbling recognition. On Thursday, she called and gave her students the principal’s address for 39 minutes over the phone from the Cairo International Airport. The minute she got off the plane, she rushed to the school to see everyone, and to her surprise, she was welcomed by many of the graduating class, who came to see her in their grad hoodies!

The Need for Youth Empowerment

Phoebe is a firm believer that the empowerment of today’s youth is the true preparation for our world tomorrow. Based on her extensive experience and expertise in the field of education, she points out three things that need to be incorporated. These include youth empowerment, youth leadership development, and youth opportunities.

Further shedding light on this issue, Phoebe states that often society forgets to remember that their today’s youth are going to be the future leaders of tomorrow. When young people are inspired, educated, given opportunities, and raised in an environment where others openly encourage and value their opinions, shaping and developing society becomes better and easier. “In the years I have led our students in raising money for NGOs and doing humanitarian work in different parts of the world, I have seen the power of youth when they are given the opportunity,” reveals Phoebe.

Words of Wisdom

As a seasoned educational leader, Phoebe advises aspiring educators and school leaders to dream big and never let anything stop them from reaching where they want to be. “Let your journey be a light that leads others, and never forget that if it weren’t for the teachers, there would not be any engineers, doctors, or pharmacists,” shares Phoebe.

Roadmap to a Bright Future

Under Phoebe’s leadership, PCC is planning to expand its footprints first through its virtual high school and aspires to open its physical campuses all around the world in the near future.

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