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Become Part of the Family

Living just three miles away from Foundation Academy (FA) for the past 20 years, Liefke Meyers has long been an admirer of one of the premier private schools in Central Florida, which offers students from preschool through high school a Christ-centered education in a warm and welcoming environment. Through her involvement in the community, she had become aware of Foundation’s reputation as a school and organization known for its thoughtful approach toward its students and families. Eventually, although Meyers loved her own career in the banking and economic development sectors, she realized she just had to be part of an academic institution whose values so closely aligned with her own.

Two years ago, Meyers was hired as the Vice President of Development at Foundation Academy, and she could not be more thrilled with the decision to come on board.

“What’s different here is you truly are part of a family and they care about you as an employee,” she says. “In the corporate world, that’s not necessarily the case—it’s about your production and not you as a person. Here, the employees help each other and the students, just like a family would.

“The educational pieces are amazing as well: We’ve got beautiful science labs, we’ve got AP classes, we’ve got retired Naval officers teaching our students science. But in the end, what made me take the job was a sense of family.”

Those special bonds are felt in every corner of Foundation Academy. Carol Grosshans, Vice President of Education, has filled various positions while working at different schools across the country for more than 40 years, and she has never seen anything quite like it.

“That’s why we say you can’t spell family without FA, because it really is that kind of a feel here,” she says. “I think that’s what makes our classrooms what they are, because we have teachers who truly get to know the students. They walk alongside of them not just academically but from a spiritual and an emotional standpoint as well.”

FA, which is celebrating the 65th anniversary of its founding, started in 1958 with one kindergarten classroom. Now it has three campuses, a virtual school and will welcome more than 1,100 students to its hallways this fall. “It’s amazing to see how we’ve grown,” Grosshans says, “and it’s all because of the dedication of those beginning families that felt the need to begin a Christian school in the basement of First Baptist of Winter Garden.”

FA embraces that rich tradition while always striving to move forward. Both the original Plant Street campus (pre-K through sixth grade) and the newest campus, Lakeside in Windermere (kindergarten through sixth), serve younger students with a comprehensive curriculum. Lakeside is opening a brand-new school building this summer and a STEM garden is also in the works.

Tilden, meanwhile, is home to students from seventh through 12th grade and there are exciting changes taking place there as well, including a recent expansion to the main facility and a new cafeteria being constructed along with a 40,000-square-foot, two-story classroom building. That will allow for about 340 additional students to attend Foundation and it will include increased lab spaces and areas for hands-on learning in fields like media, computer programming and coding.

Still, even as FA adapts to the needs of modern students, it holds true to the traits that have traditionally made the school so successful. That includes a holistic approach to educating children and helping them discover who they are truly meant to be, whether that’s a renowned doctor, a fishing boat captain, a pilot, a college athlete or an animator working on movies like Avatar—all dreams that recent graduates have followed.

“Our goal is to really help kids find what they’ve been created to do and be able to help them pursue that, whatever that looks like,” Grosshans says. “Not everybody is made to go to a four-year college, and that’s OK. But what are those passions you have and how can we help you get there?

“We can do everything to train our kids academically and fill their heads with all kinds of knowledge, but if we aren’t mentoring their hearts and trying to help them decide who they are spiritually and who God created them to be, then we’ve really missed the mark.”

As Meyers adds, just listening to kids about their hopes and fears, and helping them laugh and smile every day, is part of the fabric of Foundation Academy.

“With the mental health of children these days, it is so key that they feel a sense of belonging and trust that they can talk to someone,” she says.

The question about how children are taught has been a hot topic throughout the country, and clearly parents need to trust the administrators and teachers they send their kids to every day. The importance of Christian education will only continue to grow, and Foundation Academy is happy to play a leading role now and for generations to come.

“It takes the home, the school and the church working together to help create what we’ve done here, and I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with our families and with the partnerships with churches of all kinds,” Grosshans says. “We are working together to do all we can to do to protect our kids and give them, hopefully a wonderful future.”

Foundation Academy

Plant Street Campus
125 E. Plant St., Winter Garden
(407) 656-3677

Lakeside Campus
8464 Winter Garden Vineland Road, Orlando
(407) 614-1780

Tilden Campus
15304 Tilden Road, Winter Garden
(407) 877-2744