Remote Learning Portal

Remote Learning Portal

Thank you for connecting with the school community through our Remote Learning Portal. As I’ve been saying recently, “while our school buildings may be closed, The First Academy teachers and students will be actively engaged in remote learning. We are working together to flatten the curve and serve one another as a community of devoted Christ-followers.” We are embracing this new season as we wait to see what God has planned. I am confident that our school community will emerge stronger than ever by God’s grace and mercy.

Below you will find information on our recently formed Remote Learning Team and a new Remote Learning Portal. This will serve as the hub for schoolwide updates, Remote Learning plan information, and family resources. We will continue to update families as necessary via text, email, and social media. While we roll out our plan for active learning away from school, I want you to know that we have also launched a new Family Ministry Team. These outstanding men and women are eager to walk alongside you and your students to serve your spiritual and social emotional needs. Please reach out and let us know how we can be a connection and blessing in your life.

Steve D. Whitaker, Ph.D.
Head of School

Remote Learning Information

We are honored to assist our TFA families through the Remote Learning process. Our Remote Learning Support Team members are the following:

We are here to help and support every step of the way. Parents and students, please complete this form for assistance with Remote Learning needs. Once complete, your divisional leader will assist with next steps.

The Remote Learning Handbook will help you will find information including the Remote Learning Plan, Remote Learning Support Team structure, family resources, technology support, and general guidelines.

While our school buildings may be closed, The First Academy teachers and students will be actively engaged in remote learning. We are working together to flatten the curve and serve one another as a community of devoted Christ-followers (Psalm 46:1).

We have been networking with schools all across the nation to develop plans and procedures to deliver high -quality instruction for your students. Our goal is to find the best balance between continuing the instructional momentum we have achieved this year with our students and being sensitive to challenges our families may be working through with having children at home due to the Remote Learning environment. We are here to work through this process with our students and parents and you will have our full support each step of the way.

Below are some general questions and answers pertaining to our Remote Learning environment. In the meantime, please be sure to read about some important tips and guidelines to follow in order to help your student have the best experience as they transition to Remote Learning.

Why are we taking attendance every day?

We have been informed by the Florida Council of Independent Schools (our accrediting agency) that the Department of Education may extend the public school calendar through June 30. Dr. Barbara Hodges, Executive Director of the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS), intends to make the case that independent schools who are documenting daily attendance should be exempt from extending the school year through June 30. She is asking that we document daily attendance as a defense against extending the school year. We support the position of FCIS and will be taking attendance daily so that we can end our school year as originally scheduled.

When are teachers available?

Teachers will be checking email regularly from 9:00 am-3:00 pm daily. They will also be available by appointment to connect with students around their schedules. Lower School teachers will be setting up weekly appointments to connect with families. Middle and Upper School teachers will be online with students daily during each class period for attendance, announcements, prayer, and questions and will have office hours daily from 1:40-3:00 pm.

How do I find help if my student or family member is struggling with spiritual or social-emotional issues during the time of social distancing?

This is a tremendously important issue. Dr. Whitaker has assembled a Family Ministry Team that is available to support the spiritual and social-emotional needs of our school community. We would love the opportunity to serve you and your student(s) through this time. Please click on this link for contact information for each Family Ministry Team member. You can also use this form to send us prayer requests, or any other support that your family or student may need.

What are we doing about tuition payments?

We are incredibly thankful for the faculty and staff at The First Academy. They are actively engaged in providing high-quality distance learning and student support for over 1,000 families. Our School Board Chair (Clark Keator) and Finance Chair (Ada Pendas) have directed The First Academy to continue fulfilling our financial commitments to employees in every way possible. As a result, tuition payments will continue as they have since the start of the school year. Our School Board Chair is asking families with financial hardships to contact the Business Office and share the specific details of their situation. The Finance Chair and the staff will be confidential and gracious in assisting those in need during these unprecedented times. We want to do all that we can to allow families to stay enrolled at TFA. Please contact the Business Office by calling Leighann Harris at (240) 271-7075. You may also use this this link to request an appointment.

What about Continuous Enrollment and tuition payments for NEXT school year?

Given the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, our School Board made the decision to freeze tuition at its current rate for next school year. There will be no increase in tuition for the 2020-21 school year. We trust this will allow our families to rest and be assured that we want to do all that we can to serve them well during these difficult days. As far as we know, TFA is the only private school in Orlando that has taken this important step to date. When the Continuous Enrollment Status Change Period opens on April 6, we pray that 100% of our families plan to return for another year at The First Academy. For more information, please visit our Continuous Enrollment webpage here.

How quickly should I expect a response to email, etc?

TFA faculty, staff, and administration are committed to responding to students and parents as quickly as possible during this Remote Learning period. Emails received after 4:00 pm may not be answered until the following day. All correspondence will be responded to within 24 hours.

What if I don’t have a high-speed Internet connection at my home?

Please contact your divisional Principal if you have issues with internet access or other technology limitations at home. Parents and students can complete the Remote Learning Help Request form for assistance with Remote Learning needs. Once complete, your divisional leader will assist with next steps.

Is there a HelpDesk for device questions?

Yes, we have a dedicated team in place to assist our families. All requests may be submitted using the following link: Remote Learning Help Request.

What should I do if I need something from school to complete my Remote Learning tasks?

All requests may be submitted using the following link: Remote Learning Help Request.

What does Remote Learning mean for grades and report cards?

We want our students to continue succeeding academically as we transition to a Remote Learning platform. We know that grace and flexibility will be essential components as we navigate Remote Learning.

Lower School will continue with graded assignments for students in 2nd-5th grade. The number of required assignments has been adjusted to account for remote learning. Lower School Teachers will be working with families to facilitate graded assignments and skill assessments (KPrep-1st Grade) so that all students will receive a 4th quarter report card. As with all parts of our remote learning plan, we will exercise grace and flexibility through this new process.

Middle and Upper School will provide continuous feedback to students based on the essential content. The Remote Learning environment allows for alternative methods of assessment, such as class discussions, chat box responses, and audio answers; along with traditional tests/quizzes. We have a wonderful team of teachers who will be gracious and flexible as we walk alongside our students. All Middle & Upper School students will receive a 4th quarter report card.

What about graduation?

Dr. Whitaker has asked that we do whatever possible to ensure that the Class of 2020 is able to graduate as scheduled. We will be communicating with our seniors and planning creatively as we move toward the end of the school year.

How can I assist my student(s) in making the most of Remote Learning?

We have created a helpful list of recommended tips and guidelines to ensure a successful Remote Learning experience for your student. Feel free to share with us what is working at your home so we can share it with others.

Is there a chance Remote Learning will be extended even longer?

We anticipate returning to campus on May 1. However, we are learning new information every day from our federal, state, and local government officials. With your help, we will continue our Remote Learning Plan until the campus is opened or until the last day of school, scheduled for May 22.

What about school events, gatherings, and trips?

At this moment, and until further notice, all school events, gatherings, and trips have been canceled. We will make decisions about holding or canceling future events based on the updated information from health officials. Please watch for messages from the Head of School with important updates. Any changes will also be noted on our school calendar.

Will any additional school days be added to the school calendar?

At this time, we have added half days on Monday, April 13 and Friday, May 22. The half day on Monday, April 13 will be a Remote Learning half day; and we hope to be back on campus for the half day on Friday, May 22.

Remote Learning – Lower School

Lower School families, click here for our Remote Learning Overview & Timeline.

Here are the Parent Responsibilities for Lower School Remote Learning and here are the Student Responsibilities.

Watch this Welcome Video from Mrs. Jackson as we get ready for Remote Learning.

If you have any questions about Lower School’s Remote Learning Plan, please contact Mrs. Jackson at jenniferjackson@thefirstacademy.org.

We want to help equip our families with their Remote Learning Plan. Click here for the Lower School Recommended Daily Schedules.

Be sure to tune into Facebook daily at 10:00am for a live message from Mrs. Jackson starting Monday, March 23.

Remote Learning – Middle & Upper School

Middle and Upper School families, click here for our Remote Learning Overview & Timeline.

Watch this Welcome Video from Dr. Grove as we get ready for Remote Learning.

If you have any questions about the Middle & Upper School’s Remote Learning Plan, please contact Dr. Grove at shaynegrove@thefirstacademy.org.

Students will log on daily through Google Hangouts for the first 10 minutes of each class period. Teachers will pray, make announcements, review lessons, and answer questions.  Students who cannot log-on should email teachers.

9:00 AM 1st period check-in
9:35 AM 2nd period check-in
10:10 AM 3rd period check-in
10:45 AM 4th period check-in
11:20 AM 35 Minute Break
11:55 AM 5th period check-in
12:30 PM 6th period check-in
1:05 PM 7th period check-in
1:40-3:00 PM     Teacher Office Hours

 

Be sure to tune into Facebook Wednesdays at 1:45pm for a live message from Dr. Grove.

Remote Learning – The Extended Educational Programs

The Classical School families, click here for our Remote Learning Plan Overview.

Be sure to tune into Facebook at 8:50am on Tuesday and Thursdays for a live message from Mrs. Gentry starting Thursday, March 26.

If you have any questions about TCS’s Remote Learning Plan, please contact Mrs. Gentry at susangentry@thefirstacademy.org.

Additional Resources

The First Hope families, click here for our Remote Learning Plan Overview. We’ve compiled a list of online resources for our families.

Be sure to tune into Facebook daily at 8:30am for a live message from Mrs. Roskaft starting Wednesday, March 25.

If you have any questions about TFH’s Remote Learning Plan, please contact Mrs. Roskaft at tonyaroskaft@thefirstacademy.org.

Preschool families, click here for our Remote Learning Plan Overview.

Be sure to tune into Facebook daily at 10:30am for a live message from Miss Grayson starting Monday, March 23.

If you have any questions about the Preschool’s Remote Learning Plan, please contact Miss Grayson at graysonmerritt@thefirstacademy.org.

Strategic Communication

For the latest school-wide communications, read below.

April 1, 2020 Update (1:45pm)

Dear TFA Family,
We pray that the second week of Remote Learning is off to a great start. We have seen and heard so many wonderful stories shared by students, parents, and teachers.

As many of our families are aware, with the new direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Florida Department of Education announced that all state schools will close until at least April 30. As mentioned in previous communications, we will follow the recommendations from the CDC and the Florida Department of Education and continue with Remote Learning through April 30th. All of the information needed for TFA’s Remote Learning Plan can be found within our Remote Learning Portal.

We are here to serve you and walk alongside you on the journey. You are prayed for every day. These moments give us the opportunity to be a light and love our neighbors well by showing them that while some “trust in horses and some in chariots (human ingenuity), we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7

Thank you for your partnership. We look forward to walking alongside you and conquering these challenges together.

Blessings,
TFA Communications

March 18, 2020 Update (11:00am)

Dear TFA Family:
We pray that you are enjoying a restful Spring Break. Since we last saw you on March 13, so much has happened that has surprised us all. Who could have imagined mass closures of restaurants, churches, schools, and other organizations? At first, we thought this was a short-lived season. Now we are learning it may be a longer-term season, through April 15 for now.

In the midst of the uncertainty, we hold fast to our faith and families. We are reminding one another that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1). We are also following the wisdom of the Apostle Paul who wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6).

The purpose of this communication is to let you know that we are extending Spring Break for our students for two additional days! We are designating March 23 and March 24 as collaboration days for faculty and staff as we transition our Remote Learning Plan from a potentially short-term plan to a longer-term plan. We want to be prepared to serve you well regardless of the length of the current school closure. As always, it is our intention to continue following directives from the Federal Government, State of Florida, and Orange County Public Schools with reopening our campus.

We will be continuously communicating with you in the days that are ahead. We are working to reorganize our staff to serve you more effectively (more on that in the days ahead). We recently invited Julie Young, former TFA parent and Founder/CEO of Florida Virtual School, to walk alongside our team for remote learning and strategy planning. Her expertise has already been an enormous blessing! We want to do all that we can to serve you and be responsive to your concerns and questions.

Thank you for your partnership. We look forward to walking alongside you and conquering these challenges together.

Sincerely,
Steve D. Whitaker, Ph.D
Head of School

Click here for previous updates 

Click here for an updated calendar with updated information on event changes.

Please note that all athletic practices and games/matches have been suspended indefinitely. Additional details on future games and practices will be released at a later date.

At this time, we have added half days on Monday, April 13 and Friday, May 22. The half day on Monday, April 13 will be a Remote Learning half day; and we hope to be back on campus for the half day on Friday, May 22.

Family Ministry & Wellness

While we aren’t able to visit face to face or walk alongside you physically, we still want to stay connected and minister to you. Our Family Ministry Team will be available to join you by phone, email, text messaging, or through Google Hangout to offer prayer, encouragement and support. Let us know if you have a Prayer Request here.

Our Family Ministry Team members are the following and may be adding more as we move forward:

An Update From The Head of School from The First Academy on Vimeo.

Additional Resources

  • Moms Online Prayer Group
  • Dads Online Prayer Group
  • Middle/Upper School Students Online Prayer Group
  • Powerful Verses to Help Us Stand Strong in Uncertain Times
  • Corona Virus Response – Spreading Hope to Those in Need
  • First Baptist Orlando 

  • Right Now Media This is a complimentary resource available to our TFA families. RightNow Media is an online video streaming service that provides on-demand biblical content such as movies, documentaries, Bible studies, and devotionals for the entire family.

  • Pray.com This is a free social networking platform for faith-based communities that helps its members share prayers and enjoy faith-based audio content like bedtime Bible stories. You can download the app for free on your phone.

  • Crosswalk.com Crosswalk.com, an online Christian living magazine, is brought to you by a group of writers, editors and content producers seeking to provide applicable, educational and entertaining content to followers of Jesus Christ regardless of where they are in their respective spiritual journeys.

  • Focus on the Family Focus on the Family is a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive. You can find resources for couples to build healthy marriages that reflect God’s design, and for parents to raise their children according to morals and values grounded in biblical principles.

  • Keys For kids Ministry Keys for Kids Ministries is an international Christian media ministry organization that produces radio programs such as Down Gilead Lane, and formerly Children’s Bible Hour, print materials, and web-based media for evangelism to children, targeting ages 6 to 12 with Bible-based materials.

National Day of Prayer

Dear TFA families,
On Sunday, March 15th we were called to observe a National Day of Prayer by the President of the United States. We want to encourage you to find time to pray together with your family today. We want to add our voices to those across the nation who will be calling out for divine healing and protection. We know that God is in control and we know He understands our circumstances. The Bible tells us we can have confidence that He hears and answers our prayers.

Here are some scriptures we can pray over our families today:

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” – 1 John 5:14-15

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.” – Psalm 33:12

“I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20

We want to pray for physical protection and healing. We want to pray that God will use these events to focus our eyes more clearly on Him. And we want to pray for the opportunity to love our neighbors during their time of need. We can pray for these things in confidence knowing that God listens to the cries of His children.

In particular, I am asking God to calm our hearts and comfort our families during these days of turmoil. Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In preparing for today, we found this helpful prayer guide that each one of us can easily follow as we give our fear, anxiety, and worry to our Heavenly Father. Each of the four prayers has a scripture passage to consider and a short prayer to read aloud together as a family.

1. Read Genesis 12:1–9 and Pray

Dear Jesus, my life is yours; I was created by you, redeemed by you, and I am loved by you. Let your blessing go with me each step of the way. I am afraid to live unless you keep me. I am afraid to act or to speak unless I am guided by you. Hold me today, that I may not leave your peace.

2. Read 2 Kings 4:1–7 and Pray

I pray dear Jesus that you will strengthen me and reveal your power so clearly that I will not be afraid of any event, but will cheerfully rely upon you in every circumstance as a testimony to the hope I have in you.

3. Read 1 Kings 16:11–13 and Pray

Heavenly Father today I give you my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, all grounded on you. Help me to learn to love what you love, and to hate that which you hate.

4. Read Micah 5:5 and Pray

Dear Jesus, give me your peace that passes understanding. Take away the suffering in our world and take away my fear-filled heart. Today I ask that you quiet my body, mind, and spirit so that I might serve you in complete love and devotion.

Our prayer for each member of our TFA family is that God will bless you and keep you, make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you and give you His peace.

Sincerely,
Steve and Tricia Whitaker

We ask families to please stay informed. Check the CDC website for risk levels and other guidance as well as the State Department’s travel advisories.
CDC Website for Reference: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Coronaviruses are transmitted in a manner similar to many flus and respiratory illnesses, through droplets in the air from a cough or sneeze. Increased awareness and practice of the following precautions, by both adults and students, is strongly advised.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, and after touching public surfaces. If this is not possible, then use a hand sanitizer gel like Purell.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze by using a tissue that you immediately throw into a trashcan or by covering your face with your elbow (bent arm) if no tissue is available. Do not cough or sneeze into the open air or into your hands. And wash your hands immediately afterwards.
  • Do not share water bottles with others, or drink out of the same cup as another person.
  • Practice social distancing: in public places, put distance (about six feet if possible) between you and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • If you have not already done so, get a flu shot. The flu is an ongoing concern and currently is even more dangerous than coronavirus.

Additional Resources:

Important Dates

  • March 25-April 30 – Remote Learning for Students, No athletics or extra-curricular events

Remote Learning Quick Links

Stay Social

We want to stay socially connected in spite of our physical distance.

Join us for regular Facebook Live updates. Check your division’s schedule to see which days Facebook Live updates are planned.

 

Share how your family and students are engaging with our Remote Learning Plan on social media. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and tag us in your posts using the #TFAremote.

  Remote Learning Portal