I was unsure what to expect when I toured HTLS in the spring of 2018. I remember Mrs. Douglas escorting me around the campus and I truly felt like this was a great place for my daughter, Tori, to complete VPK. I could even utilize the Wrap-Around program offered and either my husband or I could take and pick up Tori every day. This would be the first year we did everything alone, without my parents playing a major role in Tori’s daily care.
It was not until we entered the library that I really knew this HAD to be the place. I immediately recognized my elementary school teacher from St. Mary’s, Mrs. Lane. She greeted me with a warm smile, a big hug, and even said she remembered me! I believe she did because she provided an exact description of what I looked like as a child. This had to be a sign that HTLS was the right place.
The decision to enroll Tori at Holy Trinity altered our lives in a way I could never have imagined. Circumstances with a teacher moving brought Mrs. Knecht into being Tori’s VPK teacher: Knecht’s family has deep connections with mine so here was another sign of reassurance. I needed this reassurance because Tori had always struggled socially and sensory wise. She was in pre-school for two years prior and had a difficult time making friends and adjusting to being in a structured environment. Administrators and teachers that we had faith in told us that something was “off” with Tori’s behavior and we should do testing to get early intervention for “whatever” was wrong.
Thousands of dollars later and many sleepless nights resulted in there being nothing “off” with my daughter. Speech and sensory are not severe issues and both are manageable. Needless to write, we started HTLS very stressed over how Tori would acclimate to a full day and more intense academic learning in VPK.
Here, I am almost unable to continue because there are no words to properly express the changes I witnessed in my daughter. Tori began to thrive, to love school, to pray often and out loud, to sing songs filled with joy, to speak of friends she made, to speak of God and Jesus Christ as her savior, and most importantly, love to attend church at Holy Trinity on Sundays. We began attending at the traditional 10:30 service, but soon switched to the earlier, more contemporary service. This service has live music, open discussion of the sermon and scriptures, and Sunday school. There is not a better environment for adults and children of all ages. I am proud to say that we are now members of the church and finally feel we have found a church home for our family.
I have been a public school teacher for 19 years. I work at Plant High School, where I graduated in 1996 so I am well aware of the reputation of the South Tampa schools. I lived it and now I work it, on a daily basis. There is no doubt I am at the best public high school in the district, but I can say with NO hesitation, that the South Tampa public schools cannot hold a candle to a school like Holy Trinity Lutheran. The world is a scary place and I believe that we all need God. My daughter needs God. The administrators, teachers, staff, and church family at HTLS embrace the school children and teach the truth of the Lord’s grace every, single day. Christian education is a blessing and the teachers at HTLS are visible at all events and seen at church on Sundays. What they teach Tori in their classrooms, she witnesses them living. The HTLS staff “walks the walk.” As a teacher, curriculum is extremely important and the curriculum taught here is phenomenal. In addition to the academic subjects, HTLS provides computer class, STEM class, physical education class, music class, art class, and lower levels visit the library for the opportunity to check out books. There is a Spirit Squad, a Jump Rope Club, after school activities like karate and soccer, and so much more. Public schools do not have all of these opportunities and public schools have larger class sizes and maybe one aid per five classrooms. The kindergarten here has two part time aids, which equates to the teacher having an aid the entire day. The entire elementary is thriving and the kids are happy and feel safe. The students are learning the same standards as those in public school with our teachers having more freedom to teach. To be able to teach your students the way you know best is a public school teacher’s dream. This is my dream for my daughter’s education.
I have heard that HTLS is a “hidden gem” in South Tampa, but it is time to open the treasure box and reveal the worth of this school. Take a chance – take a tour – and you decide…I bet you will choose Holy Trinity too.