Killian Korkes

h9afnzeuWhen Kelly Korkes visited Christ the King Lutheran School for the first time, she fell in love with its small class sizes – 13 students to one teacher – and the safe atmosphere.

She also liked that the Palm Coast school, where her daughter, Killian, attends preschool and starts kindergarten in the fall, offered a strong academic program.

“It’s an embracing, family-type of environment,’’ said Korkes, who noted features, such as security cameras, and varied school activities like soccer, chorus, music and cheerleading. “I love Christ the King.’’

What made it even better for her was that Christ the King is a Lutheran school, where 20 percent of students and their families, like the Korkeses, practice the faith.

“So that was a double-plus,’’ she said.

Another bonus: The family qualified for a Step Up For Students scholarship which will cover all but $600 of the school’s annual tuition – $5,880 in 2014-15.

“We have to pay a minimum,’’ said Korkes, a part-time hospice nurse whose husband, Brett, works at a local Steak ’n Shake. “But if it wasn’t for the Step Up program, I don’t know what we would have done. We didn’t have a back-up plan.’’

Christ the King leaders require families pay a portion of tuition “because we want them to be stakeholders,’’ said Principal Jeff Loberger, a longtime private school principal who came to Florida two years ago from Omaha, NE. “We want them to be connected to teachers.’’

And now to the campus. The school doesn’t offer transportation services because, “I want parents to be on campus every day,’’ Loberger said. “We offer online grading so they can see immediately how their children are doing. My goal is to never have a parent say, ‘I didn’t know that was happening.’ ’’

Christ the King parents are active volunteers and fundraisers, collecting dollars with their kids to help pay for events like school field trips, known as Discover America Trips. Students travel to cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., with at least one college campus visit on the itinerary. But they have to earn the privilege to participate by maintaining good grades, attendance and behavior.

It’s all part of a complete education, Loberger said.

Parents also are at the heart of the school’s growth. The private school was founded by Pastor Phil Huebner, who started the church in his living room. A year later, he saw a need for more educational opportunities.

The tight-knit congregation had few options when it came to school choice in rural Flagler County, and even fewer opportunities to attend a school devoted to their faith. So Christ the King started a preschool and rented space from the school district to accommodate a handful of students.
As the church grew, congregants raised enough money for a new building and took the school with them. The following year, working moms and dads in the community pleaded with Huebner to add more children and, by 2010, those same parents successfully lobbied for a kindergarten class.

Today, demand continues to drive growth at Christ the King Lutheran School. Students in pre-K through eighth grade are housed in a modular building on church grounds. In 2013-14, there were 235 boys and girls enrolled. Future plans call for a $10 million new facility with a gym and cafeteria, and – to the relief of many Christ the King parents – all four levels of high school.

Filling those extra seats shouldn’t be difficult – usually all it takes is another parent’s referral and a school tour, Loberger said.

“It’s word of mouth, word of mouth, word of mouth,’’ he said. “You’re going to come in and you’re going to see it and you’re not going to want to leave it.’’

About Christ the King Lutheran School

Christ the King Lutheran School is a faith-based school in Palm Coast with 235 students in pre-K through eighth grade enrolled in 2013-14; of those eligible, 40 percent were Step Up scholars. Students participate in the Individualized Push Curriculum, which allows students to learn at their own pace. Academic gains are measured annually by the Stanford 10 test. Students get to choose extra-curricular activities such as chorus, music, cheerleading and/or soccer. And they participate in field trips to destinations such as Washington, D.C., and Chicago for additional learning experiences.

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