Director Sandy Emery says it's all thanks to four stellar teachers.
First Baptist Christian Academy’s path to becoming the best preschool in Flagler County, at least by one measure, might have begun six years ago, when Director Sandy Emery hired her teachers. With each of them, it was an easy decision.
“You can tell by somebody’s spirit how they’re going to be with kids,” Emery said. “They all just have this sweet, loving, godly spirit. You can tell. And their reputation speaks for them.”
JoLyn Robinson and Diane Stade, who are sisters, began as teachers at FBCA in 2014, as did Diana Dall’Orto. Susan Wanerka was hired the following year.
Today, the Early Learning Coalition data show that FBCA’s Readiness Rate is 89, the best in the county. The rate measures how well a school prepares its 4-year-olds for kindergarten, based on standardized testing.
“These ladies truly love these kids like they’re their own,” Emery said Feb. 27, in her office at 6052 Palm Coast Parkway NW.
The nonprofit private school has 44 VPK students. Like all the other preschools, it’s paid for by the state, at a rate of $4.31 per hour per child.
FBCA’s school began in 2008. Over the years, it added more grades and expanded by leasing the historic courthouse in Bunnell. The growth continued, and the preschool was moved back to the church campus where it is today.
But even with the growth, it’s a tight community. Teachers attend non-school-related sporting events to support the students. And when the VPK staff learned that the mother of one of the students who had attended VPK five years earlier had broken her leg, the staff still pitched in to help. Emery recalled the warm welcome she received when she brought the family a meal herself.
“They all just have this sweet, loving, godly spirit."
SANDY EMERY, director, describing FBCA's VPK teachers
“They asked me to stay and eat with them,” Emery said. “They just couldn’t believe we were still investing in their kids when they had been gone for so long.”
In the classrooms on Feb. 27, students took turns sounding out words as prompted by their teachers. They played on the playground, all with smiles on their faces. And the teachers were smiling, too.
“The scores are great, but the love they invest in these kids is what really makes me excited and proud to be their director,” Emery said.