The Impact of a Teacher – Natalie Santovenia and Mr. Kingman

We recently connected with one of our 2019 graduates, Natalie Santovenia. Natalie was involved in choir, soccer, National Honor Society, Key Club, and Sigma Iota Chi while at Florida Christian School. She is currently in college pursuing her degree in Physical Therapy and actively involved in her church serving in their youth group. 

Natalie recently sent one of our retired teachers, Mr. Kingman, a beautiful thank you letter on Veteran’s Day. Natalie’s letter to Mr. Kingman is such a beautiful testament to the faithful work our teachers and staff do everyday and to the fruit of their love and commitment in keeping Christ in the center of our classrooms. Thank you Natalie and Mr. Kingman for allowing us to share these words with others.

November 11, 2020

Dear Mr. Kingman,

Happy Veterans Day, my name is Natalie Santovenia. I was in your 7th grade world history class back in 2013-14 and graduated in 2019. You probably won’t remember me since I was always very quiet, but I will never forget you or the impact you had on my life.

When I look back to all my years at FCS, it’s not hard for me to say what my favorite class was, nor which teacher had the biggest impact on my life. It’s easy for me because it’s the same answer, and the answer is your class and you. I always enjoyed your class, but while being in it, I never thought that it would be my favorite class over all my years. Thank you for being such an amazing and caring teacher. You definitely impacted my life greatly as my teacher.

In your class, I learned a lot about world history, but also a lot about life. You started every class with a verse from Proverbs and imparted wisdom to us every day. While in your class I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t have to understand it for God to move in my life. You always told us stories in class which I was fascinated by, and some of those stories I will keep with me forever. You taught us to never be ashamed of our faith and to always keep His word in our hearts. You taught us that having a relationship with God should always be first and foremost in our lives. When I took your class, I had a relationship with Jesus and He will dwell in my heart for the rest of my life, but you definitely helped me stay strong in my faith through the good and the bad. I never would’ve thought that years later, in some of the hardest times that I have been through, I would be thinking of you and your steadfastness to the Word. So thank you for displaying your faith with such vulnerability to us, so that we could have an example of an unwavering Christian wherever we go.

Thank you for your service. I truly mean that from the bottom of my heart. I have always loved this country so much and understood how blessed I am to call myself an American. Although I came into your class as an America loving 13-year-old, I left your class as a proud American patriot and forever thankful to the sacrifice made by all who serve. I often find myself recalling quotes and saying what you used to say in class. The one that comes to my mind most is the quote “America is great because America is good. If America ever stops being good, it will stop being great.” This quote always resonates with me and takes me back to the fourth seat in the second to the last row of your class, looking at all the posters and treasures your class displayed. It makes me even more thankful for our armed forces and veterans because I know that as long as they are still out there standing up for us, America will remain good and therefore great. When I think back to those moments, I think to myself “how can I live a life as meaningful as Mr. Kingman’s, and point the next generation to be proud American’s and the most important of all strong Christians.” I am so grateful to have had you as my teacher, and I promise your stories will never be left untold for as long as I live.

I write all of this to you on this veteran’s day because it would not feel right to leave all of this unsaid. I am forever thankful for your service to this country and for being such a great teacher that has impacted my life in more ways than one. Thank you today and every day.

Natalie Santovenia

More about Mr. Kingman:

The day after his 18th birthday, Mr. Kingman’s older brother was killed in action in the Republic of South Vietnam, May 24, 1972. The helicopter he was piloting was shot down on a rescue mission; he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Mr. Kingman became a believer in the gospel of the grace of God in November of that same year, in a youth group meeting, in the home of Jack Weaver, (the elected president of the founding board of FCS.)  His father told Mr. Kingman that until his brother’s death there had been someone from his family on active duty since the Civil War. His Dad’s mother’s father had been a prisoner of war in the South for two years until he was released at the end of the war. Mr. Kingman entered West Point on July 2, 1973. He was active and on reserve duty for 11 years. He left active duty to attend Tampa Bay Bible College where he met his late wife Barbara Satterwhite Kingman, who was in her 25th year of teaching at FCS when one day (Aug. 16, 2014) after a long battle with chronic rheumatoid arthritis and its treatment was “absent from the body, and… present with the Lord.” Mr. Kingman is now enjoying retirement by memorizing scriptures, scanning and commenting on his father’s 700 letters from WWll and Korea and sending them to five generations of Dan and Nadine Kingman’s descendants, and contacting West Point classmates to encourage them to attend their 45th and 50th reunions.

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