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Extending Grace

Uniquely-abled students find the support they need to succeed at The First Hope.

One of the first lessons we learn in life is that change is inevitable. While consistency is comfortable, change promotes growth. Unfortunately, over the last few years our boundaries of change have been challenged, and we’ve all been asked to take on more than our share.

While we’ve all been affected, our children have been especially burdened. Our lives have changed drastically and although it seems in many ways we have returned to “normal,” our normal must be re-evaluated. This is especially true in the classroom, where students have not had the same educational experiences their peers did just four years ago.

“There are students in a gray area as a result of COVID, learning differently and also as a result of how students learn these days,” says Angel Alexander, director of The First Hope, a Christian alternative to unique abilities education. “They’re in an in-between place where they might not be on grade-level, require a little more time to figure things out and most importantly have the ability to get there.”

As one of three schools at The First Academy—Central Florida’s best private Christian school—The First Hope understands how differently students are learning these days, and offers a place where these students with unique abilities can have the time they need to learn and grow.

“We meet them where they are,” Alexander says. Rather than trying to tailor to the mold of a typical student, the teachers at The First Hope give students the grace, along with the resources, they need to be successful in their own place and at their own pace. “The pace of our world now is so fast that there’s no time to say, ‘I need a little extra time.’ We give them that time.”

There are two programs in which students may be placed at The First Hope. One is The First Hope K-12 Program, which offers small class sizes with a student-to-teacher ratio of roughly 6:1. This program is designed for students who have the cognitive ability to meet grade-level expectations, but may be a little behind academically or may need various accommodations and/or modifications. K-12 classes include reading and math intervention programs, physical education, Christian teaching, biblical worldview immersion, art and chapel.

The second program, The First Hope Specialized Education Program, also offers small class sizes and is for students who are working toward functional academics and independent life skills. In addition to math and reading interventions, students participate in social and job skills training, physical education, art, Christian teaching and chapel.

“On the Christian side of things, God made everyone in his image, and if a student is made in his image not at grade level, that student is still worthy of being in school and given a fair chance,” Alexander adds. “Students shouldn’t just be written off, and we give them a place here to succeed.”

Alexander says most students qualify for tuition assistance or scholarships to attend the programs, and notes tuition has been reduced to help accommodate the needs of more students.

“We understand there is a large population of students who have been affected by COVID and that’s the student we’re targeting,” she says. “Students who entered school in kindergarten that year—which is a crucial foundation year—were given no grace, and they were not allowed a do-over year. They’re needing some more time developmentally, and we’re here to give them that time.”

Because there can be a level of uncertainly about considering a private school, Alexander also encourages parents who are not sure if The First Hope is a good fit for their child to visit the school’s campus and take a tour.

“Come see the school, it speaks volumes on its own,” Alexander concludes.

The First Hope at The First Academy
(407) 206-8801