Dear TFA Family,
As we wrap up another year, I wanted to review some of the highlights and blessings we have experienced this year – Sola Deo Gloria!
Spiritually – The monthly Dads’ Prayer Gathering and Small Group Bible Studies have continued to flourish, and our Director of Spiritual Formation spoke in the fall and spring at our Royal Dads’ breakfast events to further connect and engage our TFA dads. We rejoiced in seeing several students come to Christ and every senior was met with on a one-on-one basis to discuss their walk with Christ. We integrated In God We Trust as our school year theme and were reminded of the importance of this theme again and again throughout the 2016-2017 school year. Our chapel program was strengthened and we were able to send our Chaplains and Chapel Band members to The Passion Conference in Atlanta. The Class of 2017 logged over 12,000 service/missions hours. We launched The Family Resource Center and gave our families, faculty, and staff access to RightNow Media.
Scholastically – We experienced an outstanding year in terms of academic, athletic, and fine arts accolades. We celebrated a National Merit Scholarship winner and two National Merit Commended students. The Class of 2017 received $10.9 million in scholarship offers and students were accepted to prestigious colleges and universities such as Duke, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. Students in Kindergarten through 12th grade read an impressive 30,637 books and 561,853,499 words through our Accelerated Reader program. We saw so many great performances from our athletic teams and celebrated two individual state champions and one team state championship. In fine arts, two students were awarded a Superior with Distinction for their duet performance at the Florida Bandmasters Association State Competition, two students received Superior ratings at the State Thespian Competition, and one of our Middle School students was awarded “Best in Show” at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival.
Institutionally – We had the largest enrollment across four divisions in school history and had our 14th consecutive balanced yearly budget. We hosted multiple school visits from others wanting to learn from TFA. We completed construction of The Cramer Family Field House and were able to host the inaugural game in February. We launched our Parent University events to partner with TFA parents in educating our families and students on Digital Citizenship and Social Media. We launched The Royal Nation Fund and were able to exceed our fundraising goal to support areas such as tuition assistance, technology, and spiritual formation.
Finally, we launched our Diversity Initiative and web page, focused on our commitment to building a community of students, faculty, staff, and leaders who reflect and celebrate Christ-centered diversity and inclusion. As part of this initiative, we spoke with members of the TFA community, created “Diversity Teams”, and crafted our action steps and future plans. On the web page, which you can access HERE, you can read more about our future plans, view our Spring Progress Report, and view additional resources.
While we have experienced many times of joyful celebration, we have also faced some challenges. We grew stronger as a team and watched God lead our steps.
In God We Trust – Those who understand church history and study God’s Word carefully realize that Christ-followers don’t have the promise of daily comfort, the guarantee of smooth sailing, or the assurance of blue skies. Scripture teaches us that some of the greatest triumphs come as a result of great adversity. Just as the 2016-17 school year has been challenging in many ways, we have also seen the hand of God at work redeeming and restoring as only He can do.
First Things First – The Gospel is central to our mission. It is what makes us unique. It has the power to change lives and change the world. As we close out this school year and prepare for the next, we are reminded that this is the most important lesson that we can teach. This year more than 50 students made first-time professions of faith in Jesus Christ. That’s why we press on each day.
Framework for Excellence – Organizations strive when trust and clarity abound. The Framework for Excellence clearly defines our mission, vision, and operating strategies. It illustrates how our faculty/staff are all connected as a team and it paints a picture of what success looks like.
It has been a wonderful honor to serve The First Academy for the last 14 years. I’m grateful for your support and I am humbled by what God has done in the life of our school; He deserves all the praise, honor, and glory. On behalf of Tricia, Amanda (Class of 2012), Stephen (Class of 2015), and Caleb (Class of 2021), thank you so much and God bless you during these summer months.
Steve D. Whitaker, Ph.D.
Head of School