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As a top Christian school in Central Florida, Foundation Academy is a place for students to excel in academics, fine arts and athletics. It’s a place for them to develop their faith and learn how to approach life from a biblical worldview.

Foundation Academy is a place for friendships, mentorships and—above all else—family.

“There is a family feel. We quickly get to know our kids, and it’s not just our students we get to know. It’s the whole family,” Principal Sarah Reynolds says. “We’re like a three-legged school. It’s home, school, church. We quickly make that partnership.”

Located in Winter Garden and Orlando, Foundation Academy is home to three campuses. The Tilden Campus, of which Reynolds is principal, serves students in seventh through 12th grades.
The two lower school campuses—Plant Street and Lakeside—are for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, with Plant Street also offering pre-kindergarten.

Foundation Academy, through its three campuses, serves approximately 1,200 students, a number that will soon be growing.

Expanding buildings, expanding minds

A $17 million expansion project is currently underway at Foundation Academy. From a master plan developed in 2016, the project is a complete build-out of the Tilden Campus, which sits on 67 acres in Winter Garden.

“This campus was approved to put up to 1,200 students on this campus alone,” Foundation Academy President Dave Buckles says. “We’ve developed this architectural plan to build the Tilden Campus so that it will accommodate the approved growth.”

The expansion includes a 17,000-square-foot classroom addition along with a new athletic annex to the gymnasium, which were both completed in 2020. The next phase includes a cafeteria and worship center, slated to be finished by August or September of next year, and a 40,000-square- foot classroom building, scheduled to be completed for the 2025-2026 school year.

When it’s all said and done, the expansion will allow Foundation Academy to grow by 330 students.

“We will accomplish that by moving our sixth graders from our Plant Street Campus and Lakeside Campus to the Tilden Campus,” Buckles says, adding this will open up more space for fourth and fifth grade classes on the lower school campuses.

“What this does is allow us to be in a position to receive and to accommodate the demand for families that are seeking a Christ centered education in a very safe environment,” Buckles adds.

This Christ-centered education is paramount at Foundation Academy, and Plant Street Principal Jacquelyn Conover believes this starts with the staff and faculty.

“That really comes from a teacher who is Christ-centered themselves. You can’t teach that if you don’t know that intimately and personally,” she says. “If a teacher is grounded in their relationship with Christ, that comes through.”

A dedication to teaching

It’s the teachers, Conover believes, that set Foundation Academy apart. This isn’t just due to their dedication to faith, but also very much from the devotion they have for getting to know each student and helping them succeed.

“For our teachers, this is so much more than a career, it’s a calling. Many of them have dedicated their lives to this,” Conover says. “I’m just so proud of them. They love the students so deeply and have such care and concern for them.”

According to Reynolds, Foundation Academy teachers don’t leave.

“There’s very high retention because they’re happy. They’re happy with administration. They’re happy with their students,” she says. “They don’t leave unless they move.”

This dedication makes a big difference, especially in the lives of the students. At the Tilden Campus, students aren’t just excelling at school, but learning how to excel in life as they move into upper grades and ultimately prepare for life beyond Foundation Academy.

“We are a college prep school, but we also have students that go into that technical school area,” Reynolds says. “We try to find that best fit for them so that they will be successful. We have to have that partnership with the parents to keep encouraging them along the way.”

Offering specialized education space for teachers and students to learn and grow helps Foundation Academy members find their own path through school and beyond. According to Buckles, Foundation does this by focusing on STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics—programs. There are coding classes, courses in design and graphic arts, and a TV production studio.

“Where we are, located at the back gates of the amusement and theme parks here, we’re trying to prepare students for what they may be able to go after as far as a job goes locally, too,” Buckles says. “Not every student in today’s world is designed to go to the traditional four-year college for the traditional four-year degree.”

Some students will go into specialized trades, such as in gaming, coding, TV production,
lighting, sound engineering—you name it, Buckles says. At Foundation Academy, they’re trying
to prepare them early for those potential careers or college educations.

“We’re tapping into the 21st century student,” Buckles says.

A biblical worldview

Foundation Academy is intentional about teaching every subject from a biblical worldview.

“We’re using essential questions, higher-order thinking questions about their faith, about God, so they can see God in different things that they’re studying. So they can ask questions,” Conover explains. “We believe that the Bible is truth. They can find answers through their faith.”

At the end of senior year, a group of faculty and staff members sit down with the students to discuss where they’re headed, not just physically, but biblically. They want to know that their students can stand on their own two feet when the crowds are telling them to do something their heart doesn’t want to do.

“We spend a lot of time discussing that,” Reynolds says. “While they are faced with different viewpoints in the world, it is the hope that their Christian faith, what they have in their hearts, is going to get them through those hard times. Especially if they’re gone, away from their families.

“Hopefully what we have poured into them will be remembered when they face hard times, and hopefully we have modeled that for them.”

Foundation Academy
Plant Street Campus: (407) 656-3677
Lakeside Campus: (407) 614-1780
Tilden Campus (407) 877-2744