Christine Ortiz is the Executive Director of the Lawton Chiles Preparatory School for Gifted and Talented Students. Her passion for education, dedication to students, belief in the power of learning, and desire for a youth-centered learning environment led Christine to develop this innovative school.
While a high school student at Lyman High School in Longwood, Christine took 13 AP classes, earned over a 4.2 GPA, represented her fellow students as class president, and played Varsity Softball. While in High School Christine was chosen by Governor Chiles to be the Seminole County representative on the Board of Directors for what would be the Florida Truth Campaign. Only a year later, Christine was chosen as one of only two Florida representatives to help develop what became the National Truth Campaign. Christine then started her first business, a consulting firm designed to assist organizations in the design of youth-based social change programs.
After high school graduation she attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While at M.I.T., she expanded her consulting firm and worked on social change issues for university and national organizations. She majored in Political Science, cross-registering with Harvard University, and secured a High School Chemistry teaching certificate. After completing her B.S. degree at M.I.T., Christine received both her Masters of Education and her Masters in Nonprofit Magagement at UCF where she has received the president’s fellowship.
While getting her first Masters Degree Christine tutored a student at Lyman High School in Chemistry. Friends of that student also expressed a need for Chemistry tutoring, and then they all wanted to get SAT tutoring. Christine began tutoring on the side wherever she could find space – classrooms, libraries, etc. The problem was, however, that in these places they had to remain quiet. Christine realized the students needed a space where they could be themselves and have a good time learning, and thus founded The Knowledge Laboratory. At The Knowledge Laboratory students can write their math problems on the chalkboard walls and do their homework on plush couches. Christine also hired a great group of tutors who know how to motivate teenagers in a way that embodies Christine’s primary goals – to make learning fun.
Christine’s vision has helped The Knowledge Laboratory become a place where students establish ownership in their education, discover how exciting learning can be, and make incredible gains in their grade reports and test scores. It is this same vision that Christine brings to Lawton Chiles Preparatory School.
Christine and all of her organizations have been featured in various publications including the M.I.T. Newsletter, Success Magazine, Alpha Phi Quarterly, USA Today, Seminole Voice, the Orlando Sentinel, and Entrepreneur Magazine. Christine has also been a keynote speaker at state and national conferences on topics of youth empowerment and social change.