Church of the Messiah will welcome middle- and high-school students to its new school in January.
| 10:22 a.m. December 9, 2015
West Orange Times & Observer
WINTER GARDEN Terri Wetherington came up with the idea for Messiah Academy from a dissatisfaction with public-school education.
“We have a habit of finding a thing we consider a good thing and pushing it down that path until its no longer a good thing,” said Wetherington, the director of Messiah Academy, which opens in January 2016. “With the school system, we’ve done that in a lot of ways. You need to find the strengths of each child as opposed to applying a ‘one size fits all.’”
She believes Messiah Academy, a school that will serve middle- and high-school students at the beginning, will do just that. The school is located at Church of the Messiah, 241 N. Main St., a church that already has a preschool — Children of the Messiah.
“It makes sense to go to the next level,” said Anthony Beckford, assistant director of Messiah Academy.
The school will use Florida Virtual School curriculum. Students will be issued a laptop when they start at Messiah Academy, which bills itself as a one-room classroom model that takes advantage of modern technology.
Experiences also will go beyond the instruction provided through Florida Virtual School. Students will attend a religious studies class once a week with the Rev. Tom Rutherford. Chapel is also once a week, and students also will be able to serve in some aspects of the liturgical service.
The school also places an emphasis on STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.
Church member Garine Adams, a musician and certified teacher, will lead the music program and also organize students into a praise band. The students also will have opportunities to participate in a drama program as well as field trips.
“We’re looking to do more than just educate kids here,” Wetherington said. “We’re looking to change their environment.”
Students will work in a block schedule, allowing them to spend more or less time on each subject depending on their needs. Some lunch hours will last 90 minutes to allow students to participate in extra-curricular activities such as a chess club.
Students also will get nutrition training while they are enrolled at Messiah Academy. Once a month, each child will help the chef prepare and serve lunch to the students.