Parent Student Handbook

The First Academy discipline policy is a classroom-centered, teacher-focused policy that is designed to give teachers the tools needed to maintain an optimal learning environment. In addition to the guidelines listed in the student handbook, each grade level establishes an effective and clear, age-appropriate classroom discipline policy.

15 Things Every Parent Must Know

The items below are designed to bolster the relationship between home, church, and school. These items do not define who is and who is not a Christ-follower. They are not a measure of one’s spiritual maturity. They are simply a set of principles that guide our partnership with parents in raising the next generation of Christian leaders.

When someone makes a mistake, we will not judge their relationship with Jesus. Similarly, when certain behaviors require consequences, we will not describe those administering the consequences as “unchristian” or “unkind” for following through as outlined in the school handbook and in this document. Though short and simple, these items are non-negotiable.

Please read these important highlights and complete the Handbook Agreement at the bottom of the page.

  1. Spiritual Formation, Christian Service and Student Aspirations
    Our primary purpose at TFA is to connect students and their families to Jesus, to others, and to God’s Truth.Biblical Worldview Integration is an essential part of the curriculum. We teach there is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and that those who reject the Gospel will face suffering for all eternity (Mt. 25:46). When disaster strikes, we serve our community, state, and nation in partnership with FBCO and the North American Missions Board. We serve global missions through FBCO and the International Mission Board. The MS/US chapel program is done in partnership with FBCO. Our five aspirations for students is for them to be 1) Devoted Christ Followers, 2) Committed Servant Leaders, 3) Respectful Relationship Builders, 4) Consistently Honest Communicators, and 5) Relentlessly Hard Workers.
  2. Curriculum Design and Class Size
    TFA chooses textbooks and resources that match our stated curricular objectives and are of high educational quality. Our teachers guide instruction; the textbooks do not. When elements of a secular textbook conflict with our Biblical worldview, we embrace that as a teachable moment. Outstanding teacher quality and curricular alignment are the secrets to our multi-year National Blue Ribbon qualifying test scores, not class size. Class sizes are based on student dynamics and teacher profile, not local public school standards or independent school norms.
  3. Admissions Philosophy
    We enroll students from Christian and non-Christian families. The school follows a Purpose Driven Enrollment Framework when reviewing student applications. Those parents who support our Great Commission Philosophy, Biblical Values Regarding Marriage/Family, are College-Preparatory Focused, and who desire their students to be trained as Christ Following Servant Leaders may be considered for enrollment. Students may be admitted at all grade levels at any time of the school year.
  4. Parent Expectations
    We have a positive campus culture rooted in clear expectations and mutual trust. In the unlikely event that a parent disrupts the positive culture by failing to support the school as outlined in the handbook and in this document, they jeopardize the continued enrollment of their child. Some examples of unacceptable parent behavior include hosting a party where alcohol/drugs are present, treating school personnel with disrespect, failing to support student discipline measures outlined by the school, spreading negativity within the parent community by criticizing and complaining, inhibiting the work of professional educators by being unduly involved in the daily operations of the classroom/school, refusing to follow the conflict resolution process regarding school policy and/or personnel concerns, and treating other parents/students/staff with disrespect (Philippians 2:14-16).
  5. Church/School Communications
    We enjoy a wonderful relationship with our founding church. FBCO has empowered the Head of School to lead The First Academy. The School Board sets policy and oversees the Head of School. They also oversee the implementation of the Strategic Plan. When TFA issues are brought to FBCO, they will be directed back to the Head of School for resolution as outlined in the school handbook.
  6. Student Behavior Expectations Apply 24/7
    We view our students as community leaders. As such, they are held accountable for their behavior 24 hours per day, seven days per week while enrolled at TFA. If a student’s behavior violates handbook standards or negatively impacts the reputation of FBCO or TFA, suspension or expulsion may result. All student discipline is done with a redemptive and restorative focus. Disciplinary consequences are always confidential and will not be discussed with anyone other than the parent of the child involved.
  7. Successful Students
    The most successful students at TFA are generally those whose parents resist the urge to rescue them from learning the valuable lessons that social struggles, academic challenges, athletic disappointments, fine arts frustrations, and the occasional unpleasant disciplinary consequences provide in the school setting. The parents of resilient students focus on preparing the person, not preparing the path.
  8. Cell Phone and Social Media
    Student cell phones must be turned off during school hours. Students must understand that social media posts are a public record and will be handled as if the student stood up in class and spoke the words or showed the image that was posted. The consequence for unacceptable posts include suspension at a minimum but may include dismissal or expulsion. This applies to all students, 24 hours per day, seven days per week while enrolled at TFA. In the event of a suspected social media violation, TFA reserves the right to ask the student to provide access to electronic devices and social media accounts in full transparency. Failure to cooperate in a social media investigation could result in discipline up to and including dismissal.
  9. Communication and Conflict Resolution
    So as to provide a healthy work-life balance, employees are not expected to respond to messages before 7:00 am or after 7:00 pm or on weekends so that they can focus on their own families. While disagreements between employees and parents rarely occur, we ask that when it does, the conflict resolution process starts with only those directly involved and follows the process outlined in the handbook. School employees are required to resolve conflicts and solve relational/discipline problems face-to-face with students and parents rather than by email or text.
  10. Disciplinary Consequences for Race-Related Incidents
    We appreciate the work of our Discipline Committee. This multi-racial group provides guidance regarding race-related discipline issues, including social media. Upon confirmation of the facts, any racial language, images, or behavior that is insensitive, hostile, offensive, or intimidating will be reviewed by the Co-Chairs of the Discipline Committee and may be brought to the assembled council. The Co-Chairs will work with divisional leadership to provide a disciplinary recommendation.
  11. Athletic and Arts Concerns
    We are grateful for our coaches/directors and student-athletes/artists. We see student participation in athletics and the arts as a privilege, not a right. When conflicts arise, it should ideally be brought to the coach/director before anyone else is involved. If talking with the coach/director is not possible, the Athletics Director or Fine Arts Director will be available, The Assistant Head of School and the Athletics/Arts Appeals Committee may participate as well.. Coaches and directors are required to resolve conflicts in person rather than by email or text.
  12. Drug and Alcohol Prevention
    Helping students make wise choices is of paramount importance at TFA. To that end, we have created guardrails to protect students. Students who smoke, vape, drink alcohol in any amount, or use illegal drugs while enrolled at TFA (on/off-campus, before/after school) will face disciplinary consequences. The school reserves the right to randomly administer drug tests or require ongoing drug testing at any time. Law enforcement resources may be used for drug prevention purposes at the discretion of the Head of School. These guardrails are to assist students in resisting temptation and to give them another reason to say “no” if pressured to make poor choices.
  13. Suspension, Dismissal, Expulsion, and Student Searches
    While such difficulty seldom occurs, the school may suspend, dismiss, or expel a student when it deems necessary, with or without parental approval. A School Board-approved appeals process is outlined in the handbook because we believe there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Prov. 15:22). We will create a restoration plan following a multi-day suspension, dismissal,
    or expulsion. To ensure the safety of the school community, student lockers, storage areas, backpacks and purses may be searched without prior notice if school leaders believe illegal, dangerous, or prohibited items are contained.
  14. Subjects to Avoid
    TFA was established for the purpose of educating students in a Christian atmosphere with Christ-centered instruction. We wish to remain clearly focused on the Gospel, the non-negotiables of our Statement of Faith, and avoid the theological fringe issues. We encourage civil dialogue under the watchful eye of Christian teachers. However, campus protest activities and divisive political banter are not permitted on campus at any time. We do not permit political apparel, accessories, or promotional materials of any type on campus or at school-sponsored events. All of this is done so that we can remain focused on teaching and learning.
  15. Student Safety and Restricted Areas
    The school works diligently to provide a safe and secure campus. We ask students to follow restricted area guidelines and avoid being in any place on campus without adult supervision. Restricted areas include, but are not limited to, parking lots, PSAC, Field House, gym, athletic fields, buildings during lunch, classrooms, and FBCO.

Handbook Agreement

We ask that parents and students please sign below indicating your agreement with the Handbook. Click here to view the Parent-Student Handbook.

Prefer to print the list? Download or print a copy of the Important Handbook Highlights.

  • Facts at a Glance

    • 21,102

      Volunteer hours given by the Upper School Students last year.
    • 1,460

      Alumni since 1986.
  • The First Academy is Accredited by:

    • Florida Council of Independent Schools
    • Southern Association of Independent Schools
    • AdvancEd Southern Association of Colleges & Schools
    • Council on Educational Standards & Accountability
    • Association of Christian Schools International