Orton Varona, NTCA President
New President Orton Varona on Board
In a bold move last October, the executive committee of North Tampa Christian Academy decided on a new innovative model that will insure the continued growth, relevancy and excellence of NTCA.
“By placing a President on site, we are committing to the future of NTCA,” states Allan Machado, chair of the executive committee.
And Machado is exactly on point. The role of the president is to garner the support of the community, look down the road, anticipate growth, imagine possibilities, and keep the momentum of NTCA rolling.
Orton Varona, who arrived from Dallas on June 4 eager and ready to work, is just the man for the job. “I am here to do everything I can to make NTCA a success—not only this year, but the one after that and the one after that, and the one after that,” he says with his characteristic smile.
Varona comes to us with a strong background in business and educational administration. Having served as an entrepreneur who has grown multiple businesses from concept to disposition and a strategic consultant on commercial development projects with a combined asset value in excess of $2.5+ billion, Varona knows what it means to take a project from vision to reality.
But that is not all. Varona has a heart for education. Most recently he immersed himself in the growth and development of a small private school, North Dallas Adventist Academy. Under his leadership, the school experienced 10 years of consecutive enrollment growth, acquired and developed a new 5 million dollar school property, and greatly expanded their offerings.
Most appropriately described as a “builder,” Varona’s greatest professional accomplishments have occurred in start-up and change environments. His passion for progress through the personal and professional development of people is a primary approach. Equipped with a unique history and diverse skill set, Orton now seeks to serve God in a position and environment to which he can contribute the greatest amount of value. “The timing is right to nurture and present innovative solutions for the immediate and future enhancement of Christian education. The goal should no longer be simply to survive but instead to thrive and create repeatable successes.”
We are all looking forward to working with Orton as he insures the continued growth, relevancy, and positive energy of North Tampa Christian Academy.
What About Student Research?
“Shouldn’t students be doing formal research? Don’t we need to prepare them for academic work in college?” This question was recently posed in response to our class, “Writing for Real Audiences.” And, of course, the answer is a resounding YES! How much more real can you get than doing research for a cause that matters?
The problem I see with the way research is traditionally taught in school is that we eliminate the most important step. I’d like to share more with you – please, read my full article available on our website about student research.
Sonia and Orlando Hernandez hiking on vacation.
A Warm Family Environment
If you have been wondering how serious we are about creating a family environment at NTCA, wonder no more! With 6 married couples on our staff, we are creating a space where teamwork, family dedication, and commitment are a given.
So who are these NTCA couples?
- Rowelyn and Michael Delacruz are a high energy couple with lots of humor and creativity. With a degree in product design from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, Michael, our Innovation Specialist and Practical/Visual Arts Teacher, comes to us with years of experience in the industry and as a high school vocational arts teacher. Rowelyn, 7-12 Life Sciences, holds degrees and certifications in secondary science and has experience teaching children from first grade through high school. Her ability to weave outdoor learning into her love of biology adds depth to her portfolio of experience.
- Sonia and Orlando Hernandez bring warmth, compassion and a heart for service to our team. As a trained clergyman with a Master of Divinity degree and a certified Bible teacher, Orlando will serve us well as our Campus Spiritual Director and Bible teacher. Sonia, sixth-grade teacher and science specialist, has a varied teaching background and spent the last year being mentored by a highly innovative science specialist to prepare for her new role at NTCA.
- Stan and Janette Miller come with an enormous amount of dedication and years of relevant experience. Stan, 7-12 Math teacher, has a passion for helping students learn to expect success in everything they do. Janette, Registrar, loves detail and is committed to creating and maintaining the systems that will keep our students and faculty up-to-date and on-track.
- Chris and Manouchka Louine are moving from Fort Lauderdale to realize their dream of joining a highly creative school where their sons can be part of the community from PreK to High School. Chris, IT Director, comes to us from the Renaissance Charter School, and will be gifting us with his computer technical skills, ability to solve problems, and calmness under pressure. Manouchka, third grade teacher and writing specialist, brings unique insights to the role, having taught for eight years in a city environment where she won the hearts of her students and parents alike.
- Ronnie and Marggie Pittman delighted us by agreeing to join our staff after being recruited towards the end of our hiring cycle. Ronnie, 7-12 Chemistry and Physics teacher from Collegedale Academy in Tennessee, was enroute to a theme park when I first contacted him, challenging his physics students to collect both “qualitative and quantitative data” about the merits of riding the cars in the front and back of roller-coasters! His wife Marggie, Administrative Assistant, is a talented artist, who looks forward not only to enhancing our office, but to enriching our classes with her many artistic gifts and skills.
- Rachel and Joseph Frescino anticipate arriving in North Tampa after they return from a trip to the Republic of Palau, re-visiting the spot where they spent two years teaching and learning to love the rich culture and beauty of island life. Rachel, third-grade teacher and social studies specialist, brings a natural ability for teaching and a deep love of children to her role. Joseph, School Ambassador, adds his multiple talents to our staff, enriching the outreach of our Bible and Music classes and working to create an inviting climate on campus.
Manouchka Louine (Grade 3 – left) and Helen Rivera (Grade 1) enjoy a team-building exercise.
April Nowotny (Grade 2 – left) and Heidi Gomez (Kindergarten) compare notes after a team-building event.
Teachers Enjoy Team-Building and Planning
NTCA teachers have been meeting online every Tuesday for the past two months, preparing for the task of creating effective assessments for our competency-based grading model. Imagine their excitement this month when many members of the group were able to assemble together for the first time. Planning, professional development, and team-building combined to make a full day of productive fun.
Amazon Wishlist Brings Joy
Our incoming faculty children were excited to discover a new wagon, bike helmets, science equipment, and concert choral folders that recently arrived in the mail from generous donors who took the time to order from our Amazon WishList. We deeply appreciate the gifts, the givers, and the sitting down, filling out the online order, and making it happen.
Since I am strongly encouraging all of our staff and faculty to share our list with family and friends, I decided to do the same yesterday. And guess what happened? In less than 24 hours, I heard from a niece who will be placing an order and my sister purchased 4 Gouache Paint sets!
So, once again, I encourage you to select something from our list and ask those in your circle to do the same. Together, we will stock NTCA with what it takes to foster creativity, solve problems, and inspire passion in our students.
With much work, our NTCA pond has taken on new shape and form, but one thing never changes: the Sandhill Cranes are still awaiting our arrival!