By Sheryl Young

It’s enrollment time at Christ Our Redeemer (COR) Lutheran School in nearby Temple Terrace. With the new fall semester starting on Wednesday, August 17, parents in the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel area who are looking for a good private school still have time to enroll their children.

COR, which has classes from preschool-3 through the eighth grade, is part of Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. The school is located off Whiteway Dr., south of Fowler Ave.

“We’re delighted to give tours to families anytime,” says Vickie Sufka, the parish administrator and a member of the church for more than 20 years. “Just call for an appointment and we’ll show you around.”

Although school was out for the summer when we visited, little Bailey was delighted to be there. Bailey is Vickie’s pooch and the school’s mascot. She’s always a source of entertainment for the students, but also is trained in how to handle students who might be afraid of dogs.

Speaking of training, COR is a fully accredited preschool/elementary educational facility. The accreditation comes from the Florida-Georgia District of the Lutheran Church, which is recognized by the State of Florida.

“We pride ourselves on the small class size, where children can get the attention they deserve,” Vickie explains. “Our maximum class size runs from only 16-24 students at various grade levels (a maximum of 16 per class in Pre-3, up to 24 per class in 1st-8th grade).”

“My children all attend the school,” adds Brenda Lamlein, the school’s administrative assistant. “The oldest has been here for seven years. I came to work here just over a year ago, but I had already realized that the school is a huge reason why my kids are thriving and succeeding.”

While challenging the students academically in the traditional courses they would get at public school, COR also is dedicated to providing a quality Christian education.

Among its listed goals and objectives, the school staff recognizes that every child is special in the eyes of God with regard to their talents and abilities, and hopes that the children will in turn realize that their talents and abilities are gifts from God to be used for service in His kingdom.

“Pastor Wally Meyer teaches one hour-long religion class two days per week and there is a chapel service on Wednesdays,” Vickie says. “The children also will sing, do skits and get acknowledged for accomplishments. The parents are invited, too.”


COR Excels In Academics & Extra-Curricular Activities

COR provides 5th-8th grade honors and advanced classes in math and language arts. At the eighth grade level, there also is an honors class in Physical Science.

The students consistently rank high nationally in Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) results. In 2010, the school averaged in the 84th percentile in Math, 85th in Science, and 78th in Reading.

“Our extra-curricular activities still include things that may have fallen to budget cuts in public school – like art, computer classes, music and physical education,” says Brenda.

Kids won’t be lacking in sports activities either, as there is flag football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and cheerleading.

At the middle school level come more even more added attractions. Electives include culinary arts, yearbook, Being Green 101, tennis, fitness classes and more.

“Our teachers range from those who are new to those with twenty-six years of experience,” Lamlein adds. “It’s a good mix, with everyone sharing their knowledge.”

What About Tuition?

In these tough economic times, people may not have a lot of money, but may still want to invest in their children’s education. COR acknowledges this by making grants and scholarships available to families who demonstrate a need for assistance. There’s also the option of paying the tuition in monthly installments, rather than all at once up front.


A Satisfied Blended Family

Bill Garabrandt and Jennifer Moriarty are parents of four COR students, as Jennifer has three and Bill has one. When Bill met Jennifer, her children were already attending COR. Jennifer had told him how her kids — Caitlin, Shannon and John — were thriving at the school, but Bill and his son Skyler lived in Seminole at the time. When they finally moved closer, he immediately enrolled Skyler. Everyone is thrilled with the results.

Moriarty had searched her New Tampa area for a well-rounded education in both faith and academics for her children. “From the moment you step on campus at Christ Our Redeemer, you know you’re in the right place,” she says. “We were welcomed like family. The teachers and staff provide a loving, nurturing environment where students feel safe to explore and learn. Morals are taught along with academics. The teachers encourage children to do and be their best.”

Caitlin Moriarty, now 15, attended the school from fourth through eighth grade. She now attends Tampa Catholic High, were she scored 24 out of 25 points on the school’s entrance exam to earn a first year scholarship. “The teachers are good and it’s a nice atmosphere,” she says.

Her sister Shannon, 13, is president of COR’s National Junior Honor Society. “The teachers are special because they incorporate current events with study topics. They push us toward awesomeness!”

John, their sixth grade brother, also enjoys school there. “It’s a great school; learning is fun. Art and science are my favorite classes.”

Garabrandt adds, “In one year, Skyler has become self-confident and a better person. He’s grown in ethics and morals that he wouldn’t get in 1 public school. The school gives love, support, understanding and patience. I know that he’s safe here and will never be in a ‘bad’ situation. I’ve never met a student or parent at COR that I didn’t like. With public school, I was never comfortable and always worried.”

Skyler, now entering seventh grade, says, “My favorite thing is the staff. They are willing to help me with any problems I have.”


About The Church

The ability to offer grants-in-aid and scholarships partially comes from the church’s fun, church-wide events that are open to the public.

“Don’t forget about us if you’re looking for a good church, or one that offers lots of neighborhood activities,” says Vickie. “We do Oktoberfest every year, and it’s already well-known in the area. This year it will be October 29, noon to 5 p.m.”

Pastor Meyer (who was on vacation at the time of this interview) speaks German fluently, teaches German songs and has been conducting a German language workshop at the church since 2001. The workshop currently is held on the second Sunday of every month at 3 p.m., and averages about 25 people.

But, the pastor also plays the banjo and is fond of bluegrass music. This could be the reason why bluegrass concerts also take place once a month at the church from October through spring, with bluegrass bands coming from all around the country.

Add to these a Christmas Festival and a Golf Tournament every year. Some of these events are free; others carry a reasonable admission charge.

Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church started in 1984 when Our Redeemer Lutheran Church merged with Christ the King. After selling one property, the two became the current church. COR (the school) had opened at the Lutheran church in 1978, so it has been a rock in the neighborhood for more than 30 years.

Brenda adds, “We’ve even had some former students come back to visit their teachers, and enroll their kids in the school.”

The church currently has about 450 members and a good range of age groups, according to Vickie. There is Children’s Church from pre-3 to third grade during the 10:30 a.m. church service (there also is an early worship service at 8 a.m., with Sunday School between the two services at 9:15 a.m.).

For more information, visit or the school and church at 304 Druid Hills Rd., Temple Terrace. Or, call 988-4025.

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