King family offers a dozen reasons why 'one size doesn't fit all' when it comes to education
LAKE MARY, Florida – The King family is together on a Saturday morning – and that means kids everywhere.
Christy and Troy King have 16 children, including 11 who were adopted. The oldest is a college graduate who lives on her own. Three are off to college in Ohio. That leaves 12 at home, and they range from first grade to 12th with two sets of twins.
That’s a dozen children, each with their own personalities, likes and dislikes and learning styles.
Those who think “one size fits all” when it comes to education haven’t met the King clan.
“That’s not realistic,” Christy said. “It doesn’t even fit every year with the same kid. It changes.”
Several of the children have special needs. Others have learning challenges. Christy and Troy like to homeschool their children during the middle school years.
Also, the Kings want their children to receive a Catholic school education.
With the help of education choice scholarships managed by Step Up For Students, Christy and Troy can check off all the boxes when it comes to their children’s schooling.
Five of the children receive the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities. Because of that, the remaining seven siblings are eligible for and receive the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options.
“The scholarship program that we’ve been using has been a tremendous part of our life and enabled us to continually try to push the boundaries of what our kids’ capabilities are and educate them in a way that we feel is best for each kid,” said Troy, a pediatric dentist. “Without it, who knows where it would have ended up, but I do know this, I do know that from the standpoint of the betterment of our kids and our lives, this scholarship has made a tremendous impact and continues to do so on a day-to-day basis.”
Three of the King’s children attend Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando, which is a 15-minute drive from their Lake Mary home. One just began the 11th grade at Chesterton Academy of Orlando. The remaining eight attend Annunciation Catholic Academy in Altamonte Springs, which is a 15-minute drive in the opposite direction from Bishop Moore.
The Kings love the educational flexibility provided by the FES-EO and FES-UA scholarships. Though this is the first year they are not homeschooling one of their children, the option remains.
“It lets us choose the educational path that they take that might change with the seasons of our lives,” Troy said. “Some might need to be homeschool at certain times of their lives because of things that we encounter in school, and to be trapped into not being able to do that because you might lose something is a burden, sometimes.”
Case in point is their daughter who entered Chesterton Academy, a private Catholic school with 30 students in grades 9, 10 and 11. The school plans on adding a 12th grade next year. She began Bishop Moore as a freshman but left after a semester to be homeschooled. After doing that for a year-and-a-half, she returned to a brick-and-mortar school.
“A big school wasn’t a good fit for her,” Christy said. “She does better in smaller classes, and we were able to do that. Now she has this opportunity that’s working out really well.”
Molly, the only one of their children the Kings allowed to be named in this story, is in the seventh grade at Annunciation. She has cerebral palsy and uses a walker.
Molly is one of 11 children adopted by the Christy and Troy.
“The first one was so awesome,” Christy said, “The experience of it, I knew right away that we were definitely doing this again, and you realize you have more room in your life.
“The youngest grows older, learns how to empty the dishwasher, or we go to a restaurant, and nobody crawls under a table, you think, we can probably do one more. Just one more. And we did ‘just one more’ a bunch of times.”
Which is how Christy and Troy came to own a Ford Transit, a full-sized passenger van that has a center aisle and seats 15. The kids are a little embarrassed when mom pulls up to school, driving what Christy calls her “Amazon van,” but their friends love to catch rides with the Kings.
Molly said the best part of having so many brothers and sisters is that she’s never lonely.
“Sometimes it gets noisy,” she deadpanned.
Molly once wanted to be a teacher and own a beachside restaurant. Now she wants to be an ophthalmologist, because she loves science and studying the human body,
“Eyes and stuff,” she said.
Molly finds is easy to navigate her school, though Christy wonders if that will remain the case when Molly enters high school.
“I don’t know what high school is going to look like for her,” Christy said.
But thanks to the education choice provided by the FES-UA scholarship, the Kings are confident they will find the right setting for Molly as they have been able to do for all their children.
“The scholarships have been awesome. Obviously, financially it’s helped us a ton,” Christy said. “I can change schools. I can homeschool for a year or two if I need to and have the flexibility to go back.”
Roger Mooney, manager, communications, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.