This year, one student really stood out in my mind. Every year around this time, Fort Myers Christian School (FMCS) reviews applications for the “Grandma Betty Scholarship. It is $1,200 tuition scholarship provided by the Reese family in honor of grandmother, Elizabeth DeFebio. Teacher choose the finalists and the students must complete a questionnaire that includes a short essay.
This particular student stood out, but not how you might expect. The student shared a story in the scholarship application essay that exemplified to me why it is so important to invest in our children’s education.
For many of us, school is the first physical place in the “real-world” where children have the opportunity to “belong.” Young people, just like parents and grown-ups, need a place where they feel a sense of place, a school where they fit in.
This special student shared what finding that place meant personally. “Before I started at FMCS I attended public school. My experience in school was not the greatest. I felt unloved, without friends, and depressed. I also remember getting punished for sharing my faith with a group of students.”

I wish it were different, but many of our students come from schools where they previously faced adversity: peer pressure, unwholesome influences, and more. Today, it is the norm for many students to face regular attacks on their faith, character and integrity. This is not okay.

The love parents have for their preschool children doesn’t suddenly diminish when they enter middle school. We want our children to flourish when they enter VPK, when they go to kindergarten, and through their graduation from 8th grade.

The decision parents face is not whether we should educate our children, but whether we should allow them to face the kinds of harmful influences in school, learning just to pass a test, bullying, or even the permission to pray.

So as we near the end of the school year and reflect on the amazing God-given opportunity we’ve had this past school year at FMCS to academically train and spiritually nurture students, there is no mistake that one student stood out.

This student overwhelms us with how what FMCS does impacts young lives for good. “But that changed at FMCS. It was a familiar place to meet because of attending church here, and I was excited and hopeful for a new beginning and being able to talk about God with my friends.”

This particular student stood out to me because of the description that was given about how life “changed at FMCS.”

If you can see yourself in the student whose story I shared, then you, too, belong here. Like the student who wrote such clear and important words about what it means to thrive in a school where you feel like you belong, you, too, will stand out here –

Because you belong here.