El Camino Academy (ECA) was started in 1980 by a group of North American Christian missionaries who wanted their children to be taught an American curriculum to allow for an easy transition when they returned home. They were also looking for education at a moderate cost and with biblical values. It was created as a non-profit association called Asociación El Camino Real – El Camino Academy for the children of foreign families with the goal of promoting shared values of language and culture. It took as its motto “Training for Life,” and the key Bible verses were Deuteronomy 6:5-7. Since its foundation, it has been a member of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).
ECA began with 25 students and 3 teachers offering classes for 1st – 7th grade, in a church building in the San Nicolas neighborhood of Bogota, Colombia. Later it moved to a rented house and then two and even three houses in the Pontevedra sector. The school grew little by little until it had about 75 students from Kindergarten – 12th grade. The first high school graduation was held in 1989 with three students.
Around 1990, the need for a new location for the school became apparent and a lot was purchased on 222nd Street, a few blocks west of the Autopista. Materials for a wooden structure were donated and a temporary structure was built. In 1994, the school moved to the new location.
In 1999, the school obtained international accreditation from ACSI after several years of membership.
In 2000, an adjoining lot was purchased with the idea of continuing with the construction of a permanent building. In the same year, Asociación Educando con Cristo was formed and recognized by the Secretary of Education to be the legal entity in charge of managing the school.
In 2002, ECA became a member of OBED, the Colombian association of Christian schools, and has remained active until today. In 2003, it received approval from the Secretary of Education, and in that same year the first graduates received Colombian diplomas. Colombian students began taking the ICFES exam in 2004 and every year, except two, we have obtained the classification of VERY SUPERIOR. Under the new ICFES/Saber classification, ECA has been graded with an A+.
ECA has been ranked number 1 in the English section of the exam twice, out of approximately 12,000 schools in the country, and on several occasions has been ranked in the top 20 schools in English. ECA is often ranked among the top 100 schools in the country for its results on the Saber 11 (high school senior class) exam. Due to the small size of ECA’s senior class (less than 25 students), results may vary from year to year, but ECA consistently ranks as one of the top Christian schools in the country.
In 2006, the first part of the new construction (classrooms) began to be used, and in 2009 the second stage was inaugurated with the library, computer lab, several classrooms, and some offices. In 2011 and through an agreement with AdvancED, the Ministry of Education endorsed the accreditation granted by ACSI to the school.
Construction continued, and at the beginning of 2015, a science lab, music and art classrooms, and a multi-purpose room on the third floor began to be used. In August 2019, a cafeteria was added on the first floor and 7 classrooms on the second floor above the cafeteria. A gymnasium, without walls, was completed on June 30, 2020 and has been used not only for sports, but also for large gatherings. In 2021 the construction of the annex building with the school snack shop, maintenance workshop, staff kitchen, prayer room, and 2 other rooms was completed. God’s grace was evident as all the construction was done without incurring long-term debt. The next project is to finish six classrooms on the third floor.
With the pandemic that began in March 2020, ECA had to invest in new equipment to improve technology and in training for teachers for new platforms and methodologies to teach virtually. In October 2020, students began in hybrid mode, with an emphasis on having the youngest students face-to-face. Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, all students were again taught on campus.
Service opportunities are varied, and all students, PreKinder – 12, participate in some type of social work opportunity throughout the year. In 2021-22, more than 90 students and staff participated in mission trips during Holy Week, reaching out to different regions and people groups within Colombia. Students also participate in Model United Nations, speech contests, spelling contests, and friendly sports matches, among other events.
ECA is currently moving towards its sixth accreditation period with ACSI, with a visit scheduled for 2025. For the second time, it will be a joint accreditation with Middle States Association (MSA) which first accredited ECA in 2018. In 2022 the Colombian government recognized ACSI as an international accrediting body, thereby directly validating ECA’s accreditation through ACSI.
ECA remains true to its vision as an interdenominational Christian school offering an American education to some 400 students in grades PreKinder – 12. More than half of the nearly 50 teachers on staff are foreign missionaries. ECA serves families from seven Christian missions and some 110 different evangelical churches. All students graduate with an American high school diploma, and Colombian and foreign students who wish may also receive a Colombian high school diploma. Nearly 85% of the students are Colombian – the population has changed dramatically since the early years – and ECA continues to emphasize high academic standards, bilingual skills, discipleship, service, and leadership.