The year-round education and development of children with autism is a distinction of the LCS campus that is significantly impacting lives on a daily basis.

The Discovery Program is made up of two self-contained classrooms offered to students with a specific diagnosis of autism and/or related disabilities. This special education program is available for children five to 14 years old with an emphasis on academic skills and independent living skills. Classroom instruction is based on a blended model of best practice approaches to autism treatment including applied behavior analysis (ABA), incidental teaching, picture exchange communication systems (PECS), and social skills training.

The curriculum is specially modified to meet each child’s individual needs. Children are taught in a low ratio (1:4), structured classroom by teachers who have had extensive training in autism spectrum disorders and evidence-based practice. Each child’s individual education plan is reviewed annually with the parent to monitor progress and ensure program effectiveness. Tuition costs for the Discovery Program include weekly speech/language and occupational therapy and the extended school year program.

The Discovery Program began several years ago with four students in one small classroom. As the children moved into their new home in the George W. Jenkins Discovery Wing of the Elementary/Middle School Building, the program immediately tripled its enrollment, with others seeking to participate.

Families enrolled in the Discovery Program are extremely pleased with the quality and credentials of the faculty, and they are thankful for the many aspects of the program that are not available in the public school setting.

The presence of these very special children on campus is mutually “life-altering.” Discovery students and “regular-ed” students have formed close bonds. Children see that we are all unique and can help one another. Students are learning to build relationships and solve problems – a win-win situation.

Admissions Process

Discovery Program Admissions Procedures:

1.  The inquiring family must provide current ESE paperwork for review by the Elementary Principal.
2.  The Elementary Principal will perform a preliminary review of the ESE documentation and will schedule an initial family interview. For a checklist of the required documentation, click here.
3.  The Elementary Principal will schedule admissions testing for the student.  If the program seems to be appropriate for the student, an enrollment packet will be provided to the parents by the school registrar, Mrs. Mary Fairchild.
4.  Final interviews will be scheduled. The family meets with the Headmaster and the Elementary Principal to discuss the mission of the school. The family is also scheduled to meet with Matt Green, Chief Financial Officer, to discuss financial obligations of enrollment and tuition assistance programs.  If the student is not accepted into the program, parents are notified by letter or by the Program Coordinator when student testing is completed.

If you have questions regarding the Discovery Program, please contact Mrs. Luci O'Byrne, Elementary Principal, by phone at (863) 688-2771 or by email at lobyrne@lcsonline.org.

Tuition Information (2018-2019)

Payment Schedule

Tuition payments may be made annually, by semester, quarterly, over 10 months or over 12 months. All monthly tuition payments are made via electronic funds transfer to FACTS Tuition Management. The yearly fee for this service is $15 (if paying by semester) or $45 per family (if paying quarterly, over 10 months or over 12 months). There is no fee if paying annually.

Summer 2018 Program (6-Week Session)

Summer Hours: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Tuition: $2,400.00
(Tuition includes two sessions of occupational therapy per week.)

View the different tuition levels here:

2018-2019 Discovery Program Brochure

2018-2019 School Term (includes Summer 2019 Program 6-Week Session)

School Hours: 8:05 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

New Students: 

  • Application Fee: $150.00

  • Non-Refundable Enrollment Fee: $350.00

Returning Students:

  • Non-Refundable Enrollment Fee (January 8-February 28): $350.00

  • Non-Refundable Enrollment Fee (March 1-April 30): $450.00

  • Non-Refundable Enrollment Fee (After April 30): $550.00

Annual Tuition: $25,700.00

(Tuition includes two sessions of occupational therapy per week. Two sessions of speech/language therapy services are also provided per week at no charge through a federal grant.)

NOTE: The multi-child discount does not apply to Discovery Program tuition.

Food Service

The Lakeland Christian School cafeteria offers a variety of meal alternatives that cater to our diverse student population. Cafeteria menus and meal item portions are created to meet the varied levels of student preferences. All menus are reviewed and approved by a registered dietician to ensure menus meet nutrition standards and nutrient composition from a variety of food sources that support optimal nutrition.  Students receive three daily meal options ranging from “the classics” (home-style favorites), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and deli-meat sandwiches. Meal service transactions are processed through a point-of-service register system which allows parents to review and monitor student purchases on a daily basis. Parents are asked to place money in their child’s lunch account and maintain a positive balance at all times. Students may also opt to bring their lunch from home.

Daily meal prices:  $3.85 (Discovery 1), $4.10 (Discovery 2)

Overdue Payments and Early Withdrawal

A late fee of one and a half percent per month may be assessed on charges older than thirty days. For payments returned to the school because of insufficient funds, the school will assess a $30.00 service charge. No student may be enrolled in a new semester unless all previous semester payments have been made. If a student is withdrawn during a semester, the full semester’s tuition is due. Student transcripts/records will only be released after the family account has been paid in full.

Scholarship Information

Lakeland Christian School accepts the McKay Scholarship and Step Up for Students Scholarship.  Families may also apply for additional financial aid.

Contact the LCS Business Office at (863) 688-2771 for more information.

Meet the Discovery Teachers

Jessica Hunter – Discovery Teacher

As a graduate of Lakeland Chrisitan School, I feel blessed to be back serving as a Discovery Program teacher here. After attending LCS from kindergarten to 12th grade, I went on to Southeastern University where I obtained my bachelor's degree and master's degrees in exceptional student education. After teaching in the Polk County school system, I felt called to return to Lakeland Christian School.

My husband Shane and I have been married since 2016, and we have two daughters, Hadley and Anberlyn. We currently attend Access Church located in South Lakeland where we are able to worship with friends and family. 

Sarah Williams – Discovery Teacher

I attended a private Christian school, third grade through high school graduation, in Largo, Florida. The teachers there made such an impact on my life that I decided to pursue a career in education. I attended USFSP where I earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a dual certification in elementary education and special education, and two endorsements in reading and ESOL. 

After my husband and I got married, we moved to Lakeland and I began teaching in Polk County public schools. During that time, God began tugging at my heart leading me to return to the environment where I first fell in love with teaching. Lakeland Christian affords me the opportunity to guide children in their spiritual growth as well as their intellectual and emotional growth. 

My husband and I attend and are members at Redemption Church in Lakeland. There, we volunteer with the connections ministry and attend a weekly small group Bible study, which we love very much. 

Looking back through my life, I have seen how God has always been calling me to this position. He has placed people and experiences all along my journey that, at the time, I did not realize what a big impact it would have in my life. I am humbled and blessed by His faithfulness to lead me and guide me every day. I pray that He will continue to use me to lead others to Him. 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Sherrie Adams – Discovery Paraprofessional

I graduated from Lakeland Christian School, and I am so thankful for the teachers that made an impact on my life during that time. I have three children that have attended Lakeland Christian School since kindergarten. My family attends Kathleen Baptist Church. I have always loved working with children with special needs. I am so happy to be a part of the Discovery Program. The students are a blessing, and I love working with people who are not only my co-workers, but also my best friends. I love being around people who love, pray and challenge me spiritually.

Becky Aldridge – Discovery Paraprofessional

I am a parent of two LCS graduates, and my husband attended LCS from the time he was in third grade until he graduated in 1985.  I began working at LCS in 2007 in Special Programs and moved to the Discovery Program in 2011.  I love knowing that I get to be a part of helping each child’s world come alive every day as they learn to communicate and function in the world around them.  Even more than that, it is a special event each day to watch them during worship time and as they learn to know who God is and how much He loves them.  “But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God."  Luke 18: 16

Madisen Burr – Discovery Paraprofessional


Sarah Puebla – Discovery Paraprofessional

I grew up outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Around the age of 13 I moved to Valrico, Florida. I attended a Christian private school until 12th grade, and then graduated from Bloomingdale High School. I grew up in a home that had a heart for the orphan. My parents were foster
parents of teens, and eventually ended up adopting my younger sister.

I attended Southeastern University for one year, but met my husband and knew I wanted nothing more than to be a mom. My husband and I have since adopted 4 children, one of them having a severe mental disability, with a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome with Agenesis of the Corpus Collosum. I homeschooled my children through graduation. Even though I have no formal training or education, I have 17 years of informal training working with my daughter, who has struggled to learn, yet has superseded anything the medical community would say she could do.

I have a heart to work with special needs and count it an honor to be part of the Discovery Program at Lakeland Christian School. Each child is unique and created in the image of God to display His glory. Every single one!

Field Trips/Special Events

The Discovery students go to the Dollar General on a weekly basis. They also have opportunities for reverse inclusion with 5th-grade buddies on a monthly basis to build social skills and to develop language through peer interaction.  The students have regularly scheduled annual field trips to the pumpkin patch, grandma’s huggin’ farm, strawberry fields (for strawberry picking), bowling, and the Florida Aquarium.

The students rehearse and perform a Christmas program for all of the elementary students at LCS.

Here is a video from the 2016 Christmas Program:

Annual Schedule

The Discovery Program coincides with the LCS school calendar with a few exceptions.  In addition to the standard school year, the Discovery Program tuition includes an extended school year program.  This ESY program is six to seven weeks, half day and is an extension of the academic year with many interactive, fun activities and field trips for the students.

Discovery Program Hours

School Hours:

8:05 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Summer Hours:

9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.