Foundation Academy sees record enrollment

The private school will educate more than 1,000 students at its three campuses this school year.

The Upper School campus on Tilden Road is expanding to meet the needs of the growing student population.
The Upper School campus on Tilden Road is expanding to meet the needs of the growing student population.
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The student enrollment at Foundation Academy last year was 862 at its three campuses. This coming school year, the private school is celebrating an enrollment that surpasses 1,000.

Joe Cioffi, marketing director at Foundation, attributes this to the school’s dedication to students.

“Over the last five to seven years we’ve really increased the value of what we offer,” Cioffi said. “Academics have increased a great deal. Our extracurricular and athletic programs have become quite successful.”

At the Upper School campus, on Tilden Road, expansion indicates the school is continuing its success.

Several roads have been added to the campus, and eight new classrooms are being built at the school’s Life Center with a scheduled completion date of February. There is an increase in parking, as well.

“We are seeing explosive growth on all three campuses,” said David Buckles, Foundation Academy president. “We attribute the growth to several factors. First, as a school, we have navigated the world of COVID fairly well and our parents are very happy. We have had minimal disruption to the class and maintained a healthy and safe learning environment.”

The pandemic forced schools to switch to virtual learning in spring 2020, and Cioffi said he was impressed with Foundation’s reaction. He thinks parents took notice, too, as they could personally evaluate their children’s education from home.

“I think we had done such a phenomenal job last year, and the parents saw the value of what we have to offer and the attentiveness of the teachers,” he said.

Another factor in the growth, Buckles said, “is our academics continue to improve every year. Just this past year our athletes were recognized by the FHSAA as first-place 2A all-academic team for 2A schools.

“To accommodate the increase in our athletic teams — the Kelly and Lumpkins families had exercised generosity —we built a new athletic annex,” Cioffi said.

The faculty has examined schedules and class sizes, and for the 2021-22 academic year, Foundation Academy added 17 new teachers and teacher aides. 

The Lakeside campus opened two years ago with K5 classes with the intention of adding a grade each year. The following year, first grade was added, and this year second-graders can attend as well.

“They have done really well over there,” Cioffi said of the young Lakeside campus. “That’s thanks to the leadership of Amanda Donaho, the principal over there. But she had to wear a lot of hats to get that going; she does a lot of everything. She has quite a flair for creating space and environment for children.”

“We are excited to announce that The Family Church is building an approximately 14,000-square-foot addition to their building that will allow the campus to offer K through sixth grade hopefully for the 2022-23 school year,” Buckles said. “This will all depend on construction supplies and labor. If this happens, we will need to build another building on our Tilden campus by the 2023-24 school year.”

“We take a great deal of pride even though we’ve grown, we know each student,” Cioffi said. “Parents are starting to weigh their options.”

“We continue to invest in the spiritual well-being of our students,” Buckles said. “A strong emphasis on Christ-centered education along with a partnership with the church and family is what sets FA apart. At the end of the day, as you walk the halls of Foundation, you will see God-loving students excelling in academics, fine arts and athletics, and that makes parents happy.”

As a Christ-center school, “students grow for this lifetime and eternity,” Cioffi said. “We’re really preparing them for a full life. Our dedication to a real kingdom education is really important.”

The Upper School opened in 2006 on more than 63 acres in south Winter Garden. It has an enrollment of 478.

The two Lower School campuses — in downtown Winter Garden since 1958 and on Winter Garden Vineland Road since 2019 — have a total of 524 students.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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