The First Academy: Transforming Lives through Christ-Centered Education
The First Academy
The First Academy

Perhaps why we all love children is because they represent the culmination of all the knowledge that has been passed down from generations through genes and also represent limitless potential waiting to find their own path in life. After all, as they say, children are God’s apostles.

The rightful education and fulfillment of children is counted as the top priority of not only their families but also of the community. And since the majority of a child’s day is spent in school, the influence that a school has on his/her development is an important matter to meditate on.

Throughout centuries, a Christ-centered education has enabled students to not only learn about the world around them, but also cultivate a deep and lasting relationship with God. The values, morals and perspectives inculcated in a Christian school helps children grow into perseverant and well-educated students with sufficient proficiencies and a strong mora fiber. This the promise of a good Christian education which the Orlando, Florida-based The First Academy has been successfully delivering since its inception in 1987.

The First Academy (TFA) is a Christ-centered college preparatory school serving over 1,200 Central Florida students from preschool through to 12th grade. Since its opening in 1987, TFA has prepared students to stand out from their peers and become leaders who influence the world through Christ-like leadership — choosing character before career, wisdom beyond scholarship, service before self, and participation as a way of life.

By the time your child has graduated from TFA, they will: develop a strong identity in Christ and the plan God has for their life; build their knowledge, skills, and maturity to successfully go on to a college or career of their choice; be a confident leader and communicator, as well as a caring and successful individual; remain grounded in family values that align with TFA’s mission and vision.

The TFA Experience

TFA’s campus is centrally located for Central Florida families, offering state-of-the-art academic and athletic facilities. The school serves students from Preschool through to 12th grade.

The First Academy boasts a 100% college acceptance rate for its graduating seniors, who have received over $70 million in scholarship offers. TFA’s Lower School focuses on building a strong foundation for lifelong learners, while its Middle School nurtures their emerging gifts and academic interests. In the Upper School, students have the opportunity to further prepare themselves for college including Advanced Placement, concurrent and dual enrollment, and accelerated learning opportunities. The school also offers hybrid homeschool and special needs programs.

The Cultivated Commander-in-chief

Dr Steve D. Whitaker has served as the Head of School at The First Academy since July 2003. During his tenure, the school has advanced a bold spiritual formation agenda, experienced outstanding enrollment growth, and has witnessed remarkable scholastic achievements. Multiple capital campaigns led to major renovations and expansion of the Lower School, the building of a new Upper and Middle School, the opening of the Tennis Center, expanded athletic facilities at Payne Stewart Athletic complex, a renovation of the Boyd-Moline Library, a Black Box Theatre, a new $10.5 million Field House/Gymnasium Facility, and an impressive culinary farm to table newly constructed kitchen and dining space.

The First Academy families have generously pledged over $44 million to fund these initiatives. Dr Whitaker has written on a variety of topics, including school culture, Christian living, generous giving, and Biblical worldview issues. He published a book entitled ‘In God We Trust: Five Anchor Points for Turbulent Times’.

His past and present activities include serving on the ACSI Executive Board, FHSAA Board of Directors, FCIS Board of Directors, ABHE Board of Directors, and Charter Member for Council for Educational Standards and Accountability.

In 2010, Dr Whitaker founded Neighborhood Charter Schools, seeking to support urban churches in establishing charter schools for severely disadvantaged students. After completing his Bachelor degree in South Florida, Dr Whitaker received a Master of Education from MidAmerica Nazarene University and a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Louisville. He also earned his PhD from the University of Louisville in Higher Education Administration. He is married to Tricia and has three marvelous children who are TFA graduates (Amanda, Stephen, and Caleb).

Making Learning Fun

From athletics to fine arts, The First Academy students have a multitude of opportunities to develop beyond academics. Athletic competition is offered as early as Kindergarten and culminates with 32 offerings at the Upper School level. Students also excel in the performing arts, competing at the local, regional and state levels in Choir, Theatre and Band.

Beyond the field or stage, students often tell us they love electives like media production, performing arts, Mandarin, 2D and 3D art and agricultural science, or extracurriculars such as Poetry Out Loud, Dance Marathon, Aquaponics, senior ski trip, and other student-led interest clubs and organizations.

Students from The First Academy go on to excel in whatever career path they pursue. From lawyers to engineers, from pastors to Olympic athletes, The First Academy’s Royals are prepared from day one for their future.

The Royal Package

It is the whole Royal package that The First Academy has to offer. TFA provides the strongest balance of accelerated academics and student leadership. The top reasons why families choose TFA include:

  • World-Class, Caring Teachers
  • Individualized Pathways
  • Spiritual Formation
  • Student Leadership Opportunities
  • Championship Athletics and Award-Winning Fine Arts

Awards and Accolades

The First Academy continues to earn awards each year including Best Christian Elementary School 2021, Orange County’s #1 Christian High School, Best Private School, Nearpod Certified School, Apple Distinguished School.

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The Pandemic Dictate

During the 2020-21 school year, The First Academy adapted to the pandemic, caring for its students, families, faculty, and staff making for a successful in-person school year. Following similar guidance, TFA continues to adapt to the current situation while balancing the immediate needs of its campus and community.

The Future Beckons

The First Academy is positioned to continue as a leader in Christian, private education with its ability to balance accelerated scholastic excellence with life-changing spiritual formation. The First Academy’s unparalleled ability to create a school community that nurtures the heart and mind of every student will continue to provide current and future families with an education option that nourishes the whole child into fulfilling their God-given potential and paths.

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