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The Lutheran Schools Partnership represents more than 4,000 students enrolled in 17 elementary and middle schools across northeast Indiana, plus Concordia Lutheran High School in Fort Wayne. With so many options available, you’re sure to find the right fit for your child!

Lutheran schools are Christ-centered, nationally accredited, and follow Indiana state standards. Private tuition assistance, SGO grants, and Indiana Choice Scholarships are available to help make the Lutheran schools affordable.

Our commitment to education runs deep. Lutherans founded the very first school in northeast Indiana in 1837, and it still serves students today. Come discover why Hoosier parents have been choosing Lutheran schools for more than 175 years!

Best Practices
Mark Muehl | June 2, 2016
Critical Friend Visits
A Valuable Resource for our Schools This year, the Lutheran Schools Partnership has been doing Critical Friend Visits in six schools to keep academic programs strong and growing. This evaluation process allows a team of 5-7 people, including principals and teachers from other Lutheran schools, to collect data using an observational tool that covers six areas. These Critical Friend Visits help schools to either prepare for accreditation or to validate whether a school is headed in the right direction after accreditation. After the visit, the school principal meets with Cindy McKinney and me to discuss what was observed as a way to focus on improvements and celebrate positive gains. After receiving feedback, the school principal sets an area of focus for the next three to six months. According to Cindy, “Critical Friend Visits provide a structure to establish short-term goals for long-term benefits.” Through this year’s visits, the team is refining the observational tools to better meet schools’ needs, so that the Critical Friend Visits can be even more impacting next year. Six more schools can participate in next year’s visits, giving schools the opportunity to use this great tool to reach a goal in a particular area or to support their professional development growth. Several schools have already filled slots for next year’s visits, but a few spots remain open. Cindy states, “Schools can use a critical friends visit as a growth goal after accreditation, like a more connected professional development.” Two people from each participating school are trained on how to collect the data and what to look for on Critical Friend Visits. These people will participate in a visit where they will spend time in the classrooms collecting information and targeting a specific focus area. Cindy says that the long-range goal is to form networks of schools that work on the same goal throughout the year. These networks might ask higher level thinking questions, plan professional development days, or give each other feedback. Collaboration may spur questions that would be incorporated into curriculum maps. As a result, schools work together and support each other in the growth process, sharing ideas of how to reach a school wide goal. Ultimately the Critical Friend Visits are a valuable resource for schools to sharpen their focus and reach their potential. Cindy adds, “Anytime a school feels like they’re stuck or needs feedback, we want to have a team available to help.” Critical Friend Visits give schools the support they need to accomplish their goals. For more information or to participate in the Critical Friend Visits, contact Cindy at cindym@tlspartnership.org.
Quality Education
Mark Muehl | October 17, 2016
Bethlehem Lutheran: A Small School with a Big Heart
Lasting Friendships Highlight Layne Fisher’s Experience Layne Fisher doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that her family ended up at Bethlehem Lutheran School. “It was God’s plan,” she says. “I was getting my hair cut from a lady in Ossian. I was looking for a babysitter, so I talked to my hairdresser who recommended Susan Stoppenhagen. Susan recommended Bethlehem to us.” Aspen, now 15, joined a class of all boys when he was in kindergarten. That group bonded so well, they are still friends in high school. Besides the strong friendships, the kids who come out of Bethlehem are prepared for the rigors of the local high school. “My kids have a good foundation academically and spiritually. Five of the boys (from Bethlehem) made the distinction list this year in high school, which is having an A- or higher,” she adds. Even though the Fishers were not part of the church before coming to the school, they decided to try it and found the church to be a great fit for the family. Eventually Autumn and Aspen were baptized at Bethlehem. “I can’t imagine my kids being anywhere else,” Layne says. ”I know all the families of my kids’ friends. Aspen loves to go to youth group. I appreciate that sense of family. Those older kids have always had someone looking out for them.” Because Bethlehem is a small school, a big part of their success is parent volunteers. The board at the school recognized Layne’s gifts and outgoing personality were perfectly suited for the role of admissions. They asked her to host open houses, an important aspect for the school’s growth. Layne agreed to volunteer for the task and now works alongside Sheryl Bauermeister, coordinating the admissions process together. Connecting new families is an important part of her job and the family’s involvement is critical at a small school like Bethlehem. “This school runs on the parents. Our PTL tries to meet new families. When they come here as Kindergarten parents, we try to introduce the culture of our school, which is all hands on deck.” The relationships at Bethlehem often become long-lasting friendships, one of the most important aspects for the Fishers. “I love how deep my kid’s family has become,” Layne adds. “Any of the parents here would help my kids. They’re family.”
Christian Leadership
Mark Muehl | August 1, 2016
Sisters Giving Back to Suburban Bethlehem
Kelsey and Kayli Greener Impact Youth Kayli and Kelsey Greener, members of Suburban Bethlehem Church, decided to give back to the community that gave so much to them. As sisters who attended the school kindergarten through eighth grade, they are now youth group leaders trying to influence the next generation for Christ. “Suburban Bethlehem is so family oriented,” Kayli says. “That’s one of the biggest reasons we love it.” Kelsey and Kayli’s parents were longtime members and their dad served on the school board. Kayli says that being a part of the Suburban Bethlehem Church and School shaped her life and led her to become a teacher in NACS school district teaching second grade. “I loved school my whole life and now I’m a teacher,” Kayli says. “My second and third grade teacher Amy Greener was one of my big influences and I went into college wanting to teach second or third grade.” Both of the sisters said Suburban Bethlehem shaped their view of life. Extracurricular activities, like sports, taught them valuable lessons on character development. “We had good sportsmanship here and learned to respect the coaches,” Kelsey says. Her positive sports experiences led her to become Suburban Bethlehem’s 7th-8th grade volleyball coach and 5th-6th grade basketball coach. But the spiritual growth both girls had while attending Suburban Bethlehem has made the most impact. “We went to public school where we couldn’t pray or study the Bible,” Kayli adds. “That day-to day scripture, prayer, and devotional study shaped us into the people we are today.” “We have a better understanding of the Bible and its meaning,” Kelsey says. “If I wouldn’t have had that basis, where would have my life have been? I feel solid in my faith and it was easier to go through high school. There will be those students that go to public school. The kids are well trained and prepared for that.” Their experiences led the sisters to start a middle school youth group at Suburban Bethlehem and meet the needs of their growing congregation. “We want to emphasize that personal relationship,” Kayli says. “We hope kids come to us with concerns and struggles. We want to set them up for wherever they go.” One of the most impacting events was the death of their father, who passed away a few days after Kelsey graduated from high school. Though it was a difficult time for the Greener family, the church and school reached out in their time of need. Kelsey says, “If anything shaped us, that would be the defining moment.” Because of the love and support they’ve received at Suburban Bethlehem, Kelsey and Kayli Greener are looking forward to impacting the next generation.
Funding the Mission
Jon Dize | July 18, 2016
And They’re Off!
So, who’s tired of hearing about the SGO program yet? I’m not! I love Indiana’s premiere system (the envy of other states) that allows donors to school scholarships to receive a 50% tax credit on their Indiana state taxes. And more and more donors agree with me. The program has been accelerating over the past couple of years, to the point that Indiana donors ran out of available credits from the state in February and had to wait until July 1 to re-start their SGO support. And after 5 months of empty credit tanks, our schools are zooming ahead since July 1: Nearly $1,200,000 in credits, over 10% of what is available, have been taken in two weeks… this time last year, only $300,000 had been taken. Last year less than 200 donations had come in by 7/15; this year, over 400. For just the schools in the Lutheran SGO of Indiana family we have raised over $425,000, 30% of what we raised the entire year last year. In only two weeks. Quick Quiz: what does this all mean?   Donors want their credit and are therefore making their gifts earlier to ensure they get the SGO tax credit. We will probably run out of credits before December 31. Donors are making larger gifts than last year. We most likely will run out of credits before December 31. Donors continue to enjoy supporting scholarship and providing the chance for a quality, Christian education for families. We will run out of credits before December 31. Answer: All of the above. Yes, we think the SGO Tax Credit program will run out of credits before December 31. We typically receive the bulk of our donations in December, and most of those gifts come in the last two weeks of December. If trends continue as we expect, we may be returning gifts received in December. And we hate doing that.  
School Choice
Mark Muehl | March 24, 2016
Emmanuel St. Michael Invests in Students
Families Share How ESM Provides Strong Academics and Support “I didn’t realize the difference until after we switched schools,” parent Chad Loggins admits about the quality of Emmanuel St. Michael. “The care and compassion they give to the kids is eye opening to me. They take it to another level.” He and wife Erin, sent their children to ESM two years ago, after first trying a public school. Angela and Tony Hudson share a similar story. Their growing concern about the social environment caused them to seek a Christian education for their children, Sam and Stella. “When I helped at the other school, I felt like it was chaos. When I saw how organized it was here, I was sold.” Although the families didn’t know each other, their reasons for choosing ESM were based on a common feeling--they weren’t satisfied with their previous school and knew there was something missing. The Loggins family, whose children include Jake, Mia, and Ethan, wanted a small school atmosphere, where the teachers and parents could partner together more easily for a child’s success. “Every year we discussed whether we should send our kids to public or private school,” says Erin. “We realized that our son would do better in a small school atmosphere. It’s a partnership between parents and teachers that I didn’t see in the public schools.” For Erin, who attended Emmanuel St. Michael as a child, it was an easy decision. But husband Chad wasn’t convinced that a private school could compete academically. “I had reservations about transitioning to a religious school,” Chad admits. “But the curriculum is as good, if not better, than what they would have gotten in public school.” For the Hudson family, who transitioned here the same year, the previous school’s atmosphere was not a good fit for their son Sam. “The culture of the school did not emulate the values we have,” notes Tony. When Tony and Angela were looking for a school, a number of things fell into place that led them to ESM. Tony went to school with ESM’s current principal, Jacob Pennekamp. “I knew Jacob Pennekamp’s heart and ability,” Tony says. “When we saw the environment of the school, we made a conclusion that it starts with the leader and this is a place we want to move .” After visiting the school, he met another parent who also sent their child to ESM and gave it high recommendations. Angela was skeptical about sending her children to a Lutheran school, but after the teachers at ESM went above and beyond to help her children, she knew she had made the right decision. “My daughter was anxious about starting school here. Her teacher met with the kids at the beginning of the year and told them there was a new girl coming. They were very welcoming at the school. I couldn’t be happier,” Angela admits. “I’ll be the first one to say it: I was wrong when I said I wouldn’t choose a Lutheran school. They care about the success of your child.” Erin and Chad Loggins agree that the teachers have gone to great lengths to help their kids flourish at ESM. “It’s truly a partnership,” Chad says. “Every teacher is so caring and compassionate and willing to work with you. It’s like a family.” Angela Hudson adds, “You can get quality academics a lot of places, but you can’t get the love and nurturing like the kids do at Emmanuel St. Michael.”
Jon Dize | July 1, 2016
SGO tax credits again available
Give kids the freedom to attend the school of their choice. Please generously support our SGO scholarships. Donors will earn a 50% state tax credit on gifts made through the Lutheran Scholarship Granting Organization of Indiana—but only if they hurry. The State limits the total amount of tax credits awarded each year, and we expect that limit to be reached before December 2016. Donations from $5 to $5 million may qualify, so long as they are received before the tax credits run out. So act now! Raise a beacon of liberty, and give generously. Tax credits are available now!
News and Events
Mark Muehl | October 7, 2016
A Change for The Lutheran Schools Partnership
Change is part of the world we live in. We can fight it, embrace it, create it and ignore it. This year, TLSP will experience a major change as our Academic Excellence coordinator moves on from TLSP to begin working for Region 8. Cindy McKinney has been a trusted colleague, a valued resource to teachers and administrators and a welcome friend to our schools. Her move to Region 8 is a great blessing for them and we wish God’s blessings to Cindy McKinney in her change in vocation. For TLSP, the transition is cause for assessment and evaluation. The Board of Directors for TLSP has created a task force with its purpose to assess the value of present services to schools in the area of academics and also seek input on the goals and needs for individual schools to see if there are areas of need that could be addressed by TLSP. The AE Task force consists of two TLSP board members (Axel Gruen, Heide Adair), two administrators (John Weber, Andy Gavrun), two teachers (Holly Ehle, Crystal Castleman), someone who has The Lutheran Foundation and multiple school leadership experiences (Carrie Gutman) and Mark Muehl (TLSP Executive Director). The task force represents the diversity of our region’s schools- rural and city, big and small, K-12 representation. All task force members are passionate about the Lutheran education community. Two meetings have occurred so far; the end date for our work is targeted for the end of October. This group will not be responsible for the staffing of this area of need. However, the work of this group will help TLSP guide the pursuit of staffing needs. The process for the group has included a review of guiding documents for the TLSP organization (mission, vision, guiding principles), guiding and formational statements for academic excellence strategic initiatives, and a review of recent efforts for an academic roadmap for TLSP schools. Next, principals and teachers were surveyed for input on two open ended questions- What can TLSP provide for the ongoing academic success of your school? What are the future strategic academic goals of your school? 12 of 18 schools provided responses to these questions.  These schools represented rural and city, big and small, K-12. The following were the top issues/topics of needs and future strategies shared in the responses- curriculum development (mapping, textbook studies, Response To Intervention, Project Based Learning), resource (academic coach, mentor), building community (grade level meetings, daylong PD days, councils), technology needs  (integration to all school functions, curriculum, instruction), data (data gathering, data analysis), after school programming (for students , for parents ), meet and exceed standards (ISTEP, maps), establish regionwide vocabulary, higher order thinking skills. As the task force reviewed this list, an interesting (and affirming) conclusion was made- the three major goals Cindy has targeted for TLSP were affirmed. Cindy has formed our region’s academic goals under the following- Pursuit of Academic Excellence, Developing 21st Century Skills, and  Leading Edge Technology Tools. The input received from our schools affirm that the major goals of TLSP accurately reflect the needs of our schools. The strategies that are in  use are all valued means for addressing these needs. It may be an overabundance of information but note the following strategy Cindy has in place for the 1617 school year-   TLSP Strategic Imperative-Pursuit of Academic Excellence Plan-TLSP schools have historically enjoyed strong academic reputations.  To maintain this level of quality, our schools must constantly reflect on the rigor and relevance of our programs. Do-TLSP will continue to support two overarching processes that support the pursuit of academic excellence: establishing a guaranteed and viable curriculum (curriculum mapping) and making decisions based in data collection (lead teachers council, classroom walk throughs, Critical Friend Visits, accreditation team participation). Study-We will examine the advancement of our schools in their establishment and support of these two major undertakings by collecting data on curriculum mapping completion, standardized assessment results and professional growth plan development. Act-TLSP will use this data to determine if the current strategies are effective and need to continue or should be revised. TLSP Strategic Imperative-Developing 21st Century Skills Plan-Preparing our students for life in the 21st century has proven to be our largest challenge by far.  We continue to prepare our students for decades in the past and not the future. Do-TLSP will continue to offer growth opportunities that challenge our existing educators to create engaging learning opportunities through project and inquiry-based learning that shifts their role from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side” (IMPACT, Back to School Professional Development, foster collaboration ). Study-We will survey teachers regarding implementation of project-based learning and workshop instructional format.  We will also examine curriculum maps for evidence of higher order thinking skills and independent learning within our schools’ curriculum. Act-TLSP will use this data to determine if the current strategies are effective and need to continue or should be revised. TLSP Strategic Imperative- Leading Edge Technology Tools Plan-TLSP must be an example for our schools to follow if we are going to success in this imperative.  Our staff will continue to push ourselves to model effective uses of technology as we collaborate and offer professional growth opportunities. Do- As some of our schools begin to build momentum in this area, TLSP will provide opportunities for teachers to gather and share ideas and techniques.  Eventually, these teachers will be models for all TLSP teachers to learn from as we organize observation opportunities in the high tech classrooms (tech target teachers, promote tech specialist.) Study-We will survey teachers on the amount of technology they use on a daily basis prior to and after offering observation opportunities.  We will also use anecdotal data from our schools that have tech integration specialists to determine if this approach is effective. Act-TLSP will use this data to determine if the current strategies are effective and need to continue or should be revised.   What’s next for the task force and for TLSP? The task force will discuss possible scenarios for addressing these needs. Does TLSP revamp its job description for academic excellence coordinator? Does TLSP seek to address these needs through a multi-staffed approach using staff and contracted services? One thing is for sure (and it's of great comfort as we move forward) that while the world seems to be in constant change, the One whom we serve does not change.The writer of Hebrews says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). We cannot see the future.  Predictions based on history are our best guesses. We rely on our Lord for our individual futures and our collective future. Our task force will continue to remind ourselves, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” Ps 127:1. Your prayers are appreciated as we press on.  
Emmanuel St. Michaels
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