What Makes a Great School?

All parents want their child to attend a great school – not just a good school. When my wife and I moved our family to Orlando several years ago, we found a great school in The First Academy.

On the first day of the new school year, I watched with apprehension from a second story window as my middle child walked onto a playground crowded with unfamiliar faces. With a lump in my throat, I watched as he stood alone with his hands in his pockets, obviously filled with uncertainty and nearly paralyzed by fear. What happened next told me much about what makes The First Academy a great school.

It turns out that I wasn’t the only one observing. His teacher saw the worry on his small, furrowed brow, too. She approached my son, took him by the hand, and walked him toward the monkey bars. I could see her bend down and introduce him to several boys who were playing together. Within moments, those boys were welcoming my son into their fold, and they have since become treasured friends.

That moment was powerful for me as I observed a great teacher in action. Great teachers understand that true education involves more than just teaching the mind – it begins with reaching the heart. Great teachers understand that students aren’t interested in finding out how much a teacher knows until they find out how much a teacher cares.


Teachers at The First Academy are called Living Curriculum Influencers. They are 1) Christ Followers, 2) Prayer Warriors, 3) Servant Leaders, 4) Relationship Builders, 5) Faithful Encouragers, 6) Grateful Communicators, and 7) Engaging Instructors. Though they come in all different shapes and sizes, have varied backgrounds and experiences, and possess unique personality types, I believe these seven characteristics set them apart from all other teachers in Central Florida. We are blessed to have these remarkable men and women leading our students.

Besides our exemplary teachers, The First Academy is also blessed with other qualities necessary to be a great school:

The First Academy is a great school. I invite you to experience it for yourself and your family. Please call our Office of Admissions today to schedule a campus visit. Walk the halls, sit in on a class, listen to the conversations of our students and faculty, and I believe you will recognize what makes The First Academy distinctive and a great school for your children and your family.

View our Video Library to learn more about the existing activities happening on our campus. Let me also encourage you to download the Leading the Way Strategic Plan (.PDF) to more fully understand our vision for The First Academy.

In His Joy,

Steve D. Whitaker, Ph.D.

Head of School

  • Our Mission

    The First Academy is a Christ-centered, college preparatory school whose mission is to prepare children for life as Christian leaders who choose character before career, wisdom beyond scholarship, service before self, and participation as a way of life.

  • Plan of Salvation

    Admit: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Pray: Lord, I admit that I am a sinner in need of a Savior.

    Believe: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

    Call: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    Pray: Lord, I believe that Jesus died and shed His blood for my sins. I believe this in my heart and not just my head. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

    Pray: Lord, I call upon You to save me from my sins. I confess and repent of my sins. I know that Your Son, Jesus paid my debt on the cross—a debt I could never pay despite all my good works—and I thankfully accept Your gift of eternal life in Heaven that His death makes possible.