Head of School

Sarah Northup, the Founder and Academic Administrator of Firm Foundations Academy, received her B.S. in Elementary and Special Education from Rhode Island College. She has additional certifications as an Educational Therapist with the National Institute of Learning Development, and The Institute for the Enhancement of Learning Potential. She has teaching experience in both private and independent schools as well as teaching in a co-op setting. She is passionate about classical education and teaching struggling learners. Originally from Rhode Island, Sarah and her husband Jon have lived in Lancaster for 15 years and have raised their four children here. Sharah enjoys spending time with her family, sewing, reading, and learning about learning! She is excited to launch Firm Foundations Academy and is awed at the work of God’s hand through the process!  

Dean of Students and Music Instruction

Heidi was the first recipient of the 2009 “Music Teacher of the Year” awarded by Music For Everyone. She was awarded a commendation by the superintendent of School District of Lancaster, Pedro Rivera (current PA Secretary of Education). She has enjoyed employment in both private and public schools.  Heidi has performed with Opera Lancaster and directed their first two tours of Opera tales (presenting a Children’s Opera to over 1000 school age children). Her most cherished roles are being wife to Steve and mother to her daughters, Ella and Layla. She is thrilled to be part of the team at Firm Foundations Academy and is excited to make and create music with the students! 

Lower Level Math, Reading and History

Verda Shirk, received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Eastern Mennonite University. Her certifications include Elementary and Special Education, Reading Specialist and English as a Second Language Program Specialist. Verda has taught Kindergarten through Fourth grade. She has worked as a Preschool Director and Teacher, an Early Intervention Teacher for IU 13 and a Title I Instructional Aide. Her educational experiences have included public and private schools, charter schools, a homeschool co-op and a micro-hybrid school. Verda is passionate about teaching and enjoys passing her love of learning on to her students. Verda and her husband, Dale, have two grown children Ryan and Michelle. When Verda is not teaching, she enjoys bike riding, hiking, baking, reading, listening to music and traveling. Most of all, she loves spending time with her family. Several of her favorite Bible verses are Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Verda is excited to join the team at Firm Foundations Academy! 

Cynthia (Cindy) Schulz received a BS in Computer Science with a Minor in Mathematics from University of Delaware.  Cindy will be teaching Bible and Mathematics. After serving 5 years as an Army Officer, Cindy began her 20-year career as a home educator. Besides teaching her own children, she has decades of experience teaching children’s Sunday School classes and weekday Ladies’ Bible Studies.  Cindy loves Math and enjoys seeing how it testifies to the glory of God. Cindy’s husband, Steve, teaches Chemistry in public school and is a homeschool evaluator. Together they have 3 adult children. Cindy is the part time secretary at Zeltenreich Reformed Church and enjoys knitting, reading and listening to podcasts.  Cindy is excited to share her love of Mathematics and the Bible and hopes to see many “Oooh, I get it now” moments.