By Heidy Brosofsky-Weaver
mail@floridanewsline.com

The halls of the Freedom Crossing Academy may echo with the loneliness of summer, but if the walls could talk, one in particular would share the culture of this new school. Near Principal Allen Anderson’s office, an inaugural banner sprawls across an entire wall, proclaiming the school’s vision: “Established in 2018 to Break Barriers.” In addition, the banner features soul-stirring snippets written by faculty and staff, encouraging students to work hard, go after dreams, and soar like their falcon mascot.

Although all these messages are inspiring, first grade teacher Ashley McCollum’s note stresses the importance of having a vision “… because one day at least one child will be able to look back and be able to smile at something positive that happened to them in school no matter what is going on in their lives.”

Smiles by Glenos & Hadfic Orthodontists

Anderson agrees: “We treat every child like our very own child. We won’t give up on them even if they give up on themselves.”

To accomplish this vision, faculty and staff focus daily on building a family atmosphere. While old-fashioned smiles, verbal praise, and hugs are still high on the list, a hi-tech behavior system called LiveSchool unites students into multigrade houses with names like Otutu, Ton Throng, and Kalpana. Third graders from Jill Loughran’s class eagerly explain how they earn points throughout the day for positive actions such as showing safety, respect, and responsibility. What’s more, they can watch these points accrue in real-time on monitors around the campus and celebrate victories.

“It’s so much fun working together with my house to earn LiveSchool points,” says middle school student Makenzie Bantum, who is a member of the Meraki house. “I was a little nervous to start sixth grade at a new school, but is has been an awesome year where we quickly felt like one family.”

Bantum is a member of the band, track team, and undefeated girls’ basketball team.

From cheering for the undefeated volleyball teams to reaching new goals in the Principal’s Math Club, the culture strives to have fun tackling challenges, according to Anderson. “One positive thing I hear is that students want to come to learn and the staff wants to come to work.”

In fact, a group of teachers, faculty members, and administrators took fun to a new level when they transformed into Funky Falcons and flash mobbed students at a home basketball game. Wearing wacky wigs, Assistant Principal Melissa Lime, first grade teacher Julie Haden, and their fancy flock of dancers quickly became a hit with students. They even performed during FCA Spirit Night at the Jacksonville Icemen hockey game. As one member put it, “We’re dancing through barriers!”

Others might argue that “flying through barriers” might be a better motto considering the school’s mission: Falcons take FLIGHT.

As Anderson, a 20-year veteran of St. Johns County Schools explains, FLIGHT school starts with Focus on a vision and a mission.

Then, there is Leadership. “Everybody is a leader. We are all responsible for each other, the building, and representing the school and families,” says Anderson.

Imagination is another key component. “We want students to try things. You learn from trying,” Anderson says. “You fail your way to success.”

As for Grit, it’s part of FCA’s everyday language. Whether it be video games, athletics, or math problems, the idea is to try and try again. “Every year is a do better … not a do over,” says Anderson, the 2017 – 2018 St. Johns County Principal of the Year.

Heart is another priority. “It’s important to care for your neighbor and have a heart for students in other grade levels, too,” the father of two explains. Ever since his first principal position in 2010, Anderson has incorporated “Capturing a Kid’s Heart.” This program is based on the idea that “if you have a child’s heart, you have a child’s mind.”

Finally, Team is synonymous with the FCA family. “A lot of teamwork went into making this first year successful,” says Anderson, who puts a priority on professional learning communities (PLCs). He emphasizes the importance for educators to meet regularly and share expertise so that the students “get whatever they need to succeed.”

Following this team theme, teacher Ginger Kastor spearheaded a project for all kindergarten classes to create a time capsule, complete with a copy of The CreekLine newspaper.

Clearly, the goals introduced on that banner on the wall have come to life. One message, written by Staci Boyer (the principal’s secretary/bookkeeper/office manager and St. Johns County’s 2018 – 2019 School-Related Employee of the Year) sums it up nicely: “Together we can make a difference in each falcon (student or staff) who flies through our doors … and when they leave us, they feel they can accomplish their dreams.”

 

Photo courtesy Julie Haden

The Funky Falcons

 

  • Westminster Woods on Julington creek. Live well. Be Happy
  • Vote for Dr. Erick Aguilar Republican candidate U.S. House Fl 4th district
  • Havana Printing and office supply Call us today for all your cutome printing needs
  • Farmer's Market at harborchase of Mandarin Thursday may 21st 10am - 3pm
  • The Goddard School summer camp
  • Fruit Cove Baptist Church
  • Eye center of st augustine, The eye surgery Center of St Augustine
  • Excel Pediatrics 2 locations Durbin creek and Avenues
  • Turn to ElderSource for Senior support and caregiver Resources
  • Deerwood Academy register now for 2020-2021 VPK
  • Nemetz dental associates
  • Finding the right doctor just got easier, Dr. Levine Baptist primary care
  • Doug Nunnery, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices,
  • Julington Creek Chiropractic & Wellness Center P.A. serving st. johns county for nearly 21 years
  • Custom heating and air
  • Cronin Ace Hardware
  • Craig Funeral services, Funeral, Crematory, Memorial Park
  • Do you only want cremation?
  • Irritated Eyes? Your not alone its allergy season! Schedule an appointment with clayeye for some relief!
  • Church of Our Savior
  • Central Bank, Come see us for a small business loan!
  • All About Ballroom
  • Baptist Medical Center South
  • Affordable Water
  • Academy of Dance
  • Ian MacDonald Mortgage loan originator with Regions Mortgage
  • DIscount up to 30% Jim Register state farm agent
  • Being Well Florida News line is excited to introduce Being Well magazine
  • Join us for Easter River of Life UMC
  • Weaver and Stratton pediatric dentistry & orthodontics. Exams. Prizes. Fun!
  • Tutoring club. Worried about the FSA? WE CAN HELP.
  • The Legacy at st johns the ultimate resort styled living
  • Support Community Journalism The Creek Line
  • Strandz hair studio. For a beautiful new you!
  • Staverman Hearing Centers Hear loud and clear
  • Luxury living and compassionate care come together at starling. Welcome Home.
  • Eddie Creamer Property appraiser
  • Smiles by Glenos & Hadfic Orthodontists
  • Preddy law firm estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, guardianship
  • Vote Rod Hardwick for st johns county sheriff Working together for the strength of our community during challenging times
  • River City Roofing call today for your free roof inspection
  • Prudential Financial Planning Services with Andrew Laino
  • Quality Eye care 25+ years of experience
  • Premier Homes Realty Inc. Michael Taylor and Tari Taylor
  • Nemour's Childrens's Specialty
  • Nautilus Behavior Health Let us help you and your family be at your best
  • The right cleaners, LLC House cleaning services
  • Snip's Tree and stump service over 25 years experience
  • Pavers concrete and more Free estimates
  • I.T. Promise Inc. Computer Services Professional Computer Services business and residential
  • Fresh Look Lawn Maintenance
  • Ellegant earth solutions complete lawn maintenance with 28 years experience
  • Advertise in our May Issue The Creek Line
  • Havana Printing 904-447-5021