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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
Cindy McKinney | September 25, 2016
Grit
This is the new buzzword in education, but unlike other trends, this idea may have staying power.  Grit is a person's ability to carry through on particular long-term goals.  Grit is a blending of perseverance and passion.  There is a great Youtube video, called Grit:  The Power of Passion and Perseverance that I would recommend. The reason this idea is taking hold in our schools is because we find that many students give up too soon on challenges in learning.  At some point in their years of schooling, they hit a wall and stop trying.  But research tells us that if they possess grit, they push through and actually become better learners and stronger individuals.   Think about it in your own life.  Are your best learning experiences grounded in something you excelled at or something you had to work at?  One way we can help our children develop grit is by sharing our own experiences with them.  Kids really think they are alone in their struggles.  Knowing that adults they love and respect have made it through similar times is tremendously comforting. In his article, 5 Steps to Foster Grit in the Classroom, Andrew Miller also suggests that teachers model grit in the classroom by demonstrating their own thinking process in tackling difficult reading or math story problems.  He also recommends lots of formative assessments that are not graded.  This allows for students to grow in the learning process instead of dwelling on an evaluation of their work.   I also love the idea of asking students to reflect on what I like to call Biblical Grit.  Which people in the Bible demonstrated grit?  How did Jesus show His perseverance and passion?   Everything we do should be preparing our students for their spiritual and academic futures.  Let grit be a part of your conversations.
 
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.”
 
SGO
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 | May 9, 2016
St. Peter-Immanuel’s Preschool Eases Transition to Kindergarten
Preschoolers Participate in Chapel Families and School Activities When you walk in the preschool room at St. Peter-Immanuel, you can feel the energy of young minds ready to learn. Whether students are digging for treasures in the sand box or planting seeds and watching them grow, the preschool program inspires creativity and learning, preparing young minds for kindergarten and beyond. St. Peter-Immanuel began their preschool program three years ago, adding a great early education option to the school. Preschool teacher Lindsey Irwin started at the school when it opened, adding years of early education experience to the program and giving Mrs. Irwin the opportunity to build the learning environment from scratch.  “When we started, the room was completely blank,” Mrs. Irwin notes. “We had to buy everything.” Now the room contains creative play stations, learning activities, and plenty of space for active preschoolers. Mrs. Irwin’s focus for the preschool is clear. “The preschool program lays the building blocks for academic excellence later in life as kids grow. Our goal is to support each child with their needs and their transition to kindergarten.”  The school offers a three-year-old class on Tuesday and Thursday, as well as a four-and-five-year-old class that meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Both classes meet for half days, but extended care is offered for all preschoolers. She adds, “Being out in the country we make available for parents who can’t get out of work.” Mrs. Irwin takes special care to design learning activities that interest children, whether it’s a unit on dinosaurs, complete with digging for dinosaur bones or studying how seeds sprout in the spring.  By using hands-on learning experiences, students gain confidence and are assimilated into the whole learning environment at St. Peter-Immanuel. Middle school students from St. Peter-Immanuel also benefit through leadership opportunities with the younger students. During the school’s chapel service, middle schoolers are responsible for a “chapel family,” consisting of younger students. The chapel family leaders help preschoolers follow hymns and participate in service projects. This also provides preschoolers with a big brother or sister to look up to, giving St. Peter-Immanuel a family focus.  Julie Kowalke, principal at St. Peter-Immanuel, says, “Our pre-kindergarten students have daily contact with the older students in the school. This gives them more confidence around all age groups. They leave preschool ready for kindergarten.” Interest in the preschool program continues to grow; the class has tripled its numbers in three years with many students going on to kindergarten.  Because this transition can be a huge change for children, preschoolers at St. Peter-ImmanueI already have a head start on their peers. They are used to the building, recess, principal and library, making kindergarten an easy transition instead of a frightening change. Mrs. Irwin’s favorite thing about teaching this age group is watching their development and excitement for learning. “This is the most important time and they’re like little sponges. They get excited and it’s really fun watching them learn.”   The program is not only beneficial for students, but also has been a blessing for the entire school as well. “It helps bring in different families to the school,” Mrs. Irwin states. “They fall in love with the school.” “Because of the small size our students are truly part of a small community,” Ms. Kowalke says. “We are able to see each child as an individual and help them to grow in areas they are weak.” The future continues to look bright for the preschool program at St. Peter-Immanuel. Ms. Kowalke adds, “Our kids are being taught how to treat others and how to respect themselves by using God's Word. Our kids know they are valuable to God.”
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