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What We Are Thankful For

The Foundation Academy

Being a part of Foundation Academy (FA), whether a student or faculty member, means you are a part of something bigger than yourself: family. With God as the Foundation of their school, they try to set the example and reflect what true Christianity represents. We sat down with seven members of the FA family to dig deeper into what it means to be thankful, not only during the holidays but throughout our lives.

Dave Buckles – President of Foundation Academy 

Dave holds an MBA from Capella University and is also an ordained minister. He has been the president of Foundation Academy for eight years now. Since taking over, he has grown their attendance, added a third campus, and has completed plans for more development at the Tilden Campus. His leadership and passion for the children and this community have turned FA into a premier educational institution. 

“Every year, I make it a point to reflect and be thankful for all the provisions God has made, both personally and professionally. I have so much to be grateful for. It is unbelievable to look at the past seven years at our school and realize over 40 projects we have prayed and strived for have come to fruition. As we move forward at Foundation Academy, we are currently in our final phase of Expansion Set Apart. A part of this phase will be our new cafeteria/worship center for use by our students for lunch and chapel and our church, First Baptist of Winter Garden, for worship. And we have a new brick-and-mortar spirit store. As we approach Thanksgiving, we look back on these accomplishments and efforts, not saying what we have done but looking at what God has done through us! We are most thankful for our opportunity at FA to partner with our church and families to raise the next generation of Christian leaders. It is genuinely a privilege.”

Deb Strong – Director of HR

Deb has been with Foundation for twenty years. Her son and daughter started at Foundation in Pre-K and were there until they graduated high school. She is so passionate about her job and the community at Foundation Academy and considers it a blessing to be a part of the FA family for all these years. 

What are you most thankful for in life at the moment, and why? “I am most thankful for my family. I have two kids who both attended Foundation and are grown now. I also have a grandson who now attends Foundation, and I hope that he will be the next generation to begin and finish at FA. I am also thankful for my big family at Foundation. The relationships here are so personal. For example, when my daughter was in high school here, one of her good friends’ father passed away, and one of her teachers stopped class one day to pray over them and made sure she was ok to take her quiz. We all really care about each other.”

How do you act and show that you are thankful to those in your life? “I try to give back in any way I can help them. I think the best way to show your thankfulness is to give back through love, kindness, and talking with them. I always try to sit with our employees, check in on them, and ask about their families.”

What do you think people should try to remember during this time of year? “It’s very easy to get caught up in the negative. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there is a lot of negativity and selfishness. So, going into the holidays, we should focus on what is wonderful in our life. Focus on being with family and friends and spending quality time together.”

Rachel Sivells – American Sign Language Teacher

Rachel has been a teacher at Foundation for three years. She married her best friend and had three wonderful children. She decided to teach sign language because her father lost his hearing as a young child. Her love for her family and community exudes through her as she speaks of them. 

What are you most thankful for in life at the moment and why?“Community, my family, and friends. Life is tough, and you need a strong support system. I am thankful for my family because I am who I am today because of them and God. They are my joy and a reason to get up in the morning and do life well.”

How do you act and show that you are thankful to those in your life? “I try to tell them and show them every day. But I also try to pass on what has been given to me. They have loved me and supported me, so I try to do that for others in my life.”

What do you think people should try to remember during this time of year? “Life is short. I think we should cherish every minute we have. Whether that’s with our families or our friends, remember that life is precious, and we have been given a gift. So, live each day as if it’s your last and be grateful for it.”

Thomas Hudson – 7th grade Bible teacher

Born and raised here in Orlando, Thomas is the last of ten kids. Family and God are the center of his life. He has a wife and daughter whom he loves dearly. Thomas has been a teacher for eighteen years in Orlando and is currently in his first year at Foundation. He feels truly blessed to have become a part of this community and has never witnessed any school like Foundation. 

What are you most thankful for in life at the moment, and why? “My relationship with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without him, none of this is possible. I am also very thankful for my family and this school. The people here are amazing! From the president to the principals, to teachers and janitorial, they are all amazing Godly Christian people.”

How do you act and show that you are thankful to those in your life? “I try to pour out the skills that God has given me every day. Then, I try to show everyone I meet the love of Jesus.”

What do you think people should try to remember during this time of year? “Life is short. You have to love people and love them for who they are. Regardless of what people have done, forgive them and love them. That is what Christ is all about, and we are to be a witness for him and reflect the characteristics of what a true Christian is all about. God is love, so that is what we should be every day.”

Tyler Whiddon – Senior 

Tyler has been a student at Foundation for fourteen years. He runs the spirit club, a group of students who dress up and show spirit for home football games, and is a part of the Foundation basketball team. Tyler plans to attend FSU or UCF and wants to study business and real estate. 

What are you most thankful for in life at the moment, and why? “My friends and family. They are always supporting me and guiding me. I’ve been at Foundation for fourteen years, so I have grown up with all my friends here. I am thankful to have those friendships and to support each other as we all head off to college.”

How do you act and show that you are thankful to those in your life? “Whether it’s my friends or my family, I let the people in my life know all the time I am thankful for them. My friends come to my games, and I make sure I am at their games. I love to be a support system for my friends.”

What do you think people should try to remember during this time of year? “Family is so important. I have a really big extended family, and being able to see everyone during the holidays is so special. It’s so good to stay connected and make sure we are a part of each other’s lives.”

Emma Thayer – Senior 

Emma has been at Foundation for four years. Since then, she has become the vice president of the National Art Honor Society and won awards for her art. She plans to attend UCF to study animation. She is currently going through training to become a character artist for Disney!

What are you most thankful for in life at the moment, and why? “God’s forgiveness. I have made a lot of bad decisions in recent years, which has caused rocky relationships with my family and friends. I wasn’t very kind to people and would talk badly about others. But God completely turned me around. He has healed my relationship with my parents and friends. He has given me more opportunities to further my career and to go to college. God’s forgiveness is just so good.”

How do you act and show that you are thankful to those in your life? “What God has given me, I try to give to other people the best I can. I try to show forgiveness the best I can, even when it’s difficult. I want to show others grace and love and all the things Christ gives us.”

What do you think people should try to remember during this time of year? “Sitting in the moment and reflecting on what we have done and what God has done. Embracing the moment to be sitting together with family and friends, and to remember this not just during the holidays but throughout our life.”

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