Home

Faithful. Focused. For You.

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 | January 8, 2018
Feedback or Recognition?
Marcus Buckingham is a British author, motivational speaker and business consultant. With past experience as a researcher for Gallup, he uses interviews from around the world to draw conclusions about employee performance and engagement. Many of his encouragements center around self-awareness and building on strengths. At the Global Leadership Summit 2017, Buckingham stated, “We don’t want feedback; we want attention.” Fascinating. In the world of education, feedback is an expectation- for students, for teachers and for administration. Feedback is encouraged for comprehension, for assessment of teaching tools and for engagement. For example,  three popular classroom tools used for engagement include: Twitter- One can create a hashtag and then give students an opportunity for interaction on whatever topic the class covered or discovered. While Twitter certainly was not meant as a polling tool, it can work quite well. Google Forms- Free and simple to use. Google Forms has many templates and themes providing opportunities for shared information Kahoot- Kahoot is a web tool that delivers online quizzes and surveys. Simple to use, teachers can drag and drop to create all kinds of feedback opportunities. Frankly, Twitter and Google Forms work well for parent input as well. But this idea of feedback is not the idea of feedback that Buckingham is commenting on. His “feedback” idea is part of the whole idea of professional performance reviews. Often these reviews are based on collaborative professional development plans and the reaching of goals spelled out in these plans.  “360 reviews” are quite popular, and are especially used in our world for administrative reviews so that multiple constituents can provide input on the leader. Buckingham debunks reviews that are using a numerical matrix. His research indicates that all input is skewed by the reviewer. One may be a “hard grader” and never give a top score. Or the person may be an easy scorer with an inability to give a low score. Simply stated, he argues that most of the total score of the reviews are user biased and are worthless. So what is valuable? Research says we want to be informed and affirmed of our strengths. We want to know how well we are using these skills. We also want to know purpose- the organization’s purpose and how we plug into the purpose. Does this sound like you? Are you more interested in a little recognition vs feedback? Years of experience says there is much fretting over having a performance review. Administrators find limited time to get these accomplished and teachers and staff see little connection with the process and actual personal growth. More often than not, reviews are “check offs” for board approval or for accreditation reports. The reality is that having some critical eyes in the classroom are valuable for the growth of a teacher.  Hearing from teachers, students, parents and other leaders is helpful for the effectiveness of a principal. Students need to get information to improve their products- essays, projects, etc. But if Buckingham’s research is valid, might our review processes look different and become more effective if reviews are relational, intentional and ongoing or as Buckingham directs, we share purpose and we build on strengths? What are the implications of this research  in the classroom, for ongoing teacher development and for supporting and encouraging administrators? Our culture places much emphasis on success or at being the best at something. Parents will spend hundreds of dollars on club sports or for personal trainers with the hope of a child being the best volleyball player, basketball player or musician.  Much is discussed and encouraged from educational reforms that lean toward the exceptional. Educators are encouraged to be creative and avoid placing barriers so that the inner curiosity of the child can be fostered. The the child can find his/her strengths and grow those strengths to new impact into the world. One could argue that a classroom with few barriers for creativity might lose some direction and ..... purpose. What happens when purpose and and awareness of strengths are aligned with our theology?  A gold mine of joy can occur! Purpose? There’s a lot of Law here but there is also clear direction from our God. We should use our talents to the best of our ability (1 Peter 4:10-11) We are encouraged to be faithful (Revelation 2:10).  We are never directed to be successful We are witnesses of God’s grace and are salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16, Acts 1:8) Have children and be stewards of the world God has given us. (Genesis 1:28-30) Be patient and loving, ready to share the joy that we have (Ephesians 4:1-3) Knowing strengths? Self-awareness? We are a chosen people (1 Peter 2:9-10). We are Christ’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). What a gift to know and to be able to share these directions for life! These insights are especially helpful as we know the One who is the giver of the gifts, the One who knew his purpose. Jesus knew His purpose. He died for us so that heaven is ours. Life here has purpose. Our gifts are used for His glory. Our perspective on life and life eternal is still all about Jesus.
 
Quality Education
Alicia Levitt | December 18, 2017
Keeping the Brain in Mind
Last June, The Lutheran Schools Partnership hosted Ann Anzalone, a well-known educational speaker on brain development.  This November, Emmaus Lutheran School brought Anzalone back to Fort Wayne to speak to teachers and parents.  Anzalone demonstrates what she teaches - we all need to be active learners.  Anzalone led her audience through exercises as she spoke about how the brain develops, and how we support brain development in our classrooms. Dr. Robert Sperry’s research in the 1960’s began to shed light on the functions of the two hemispheres, or sides, of the brain.  The right brain was believed to control imagination, intuition, rhythm, arts, and the like.  The left brain was tied to linear thinking, mathematics, logic, and facts.  Current research says that while certain parts of the brain do control certain functions, our brains are not set for us to be simply “right-brained” or “left-brained” people (Schmerling, 2017). This fits with what research tells us about neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to make connections throughout life.  Research shows that brain development is not fixed in early childhood, as once believed (Merzenich, 2013).  We now know that while a tremendous amount of development happens in early childhood, we can help our brains close developmental gaps later in life.  Ann Anzalone’s presentations focused on activities that help the brain to close those gaps. One method for helping the two hemispheres of our brain to communicate and close gaps is by using cross lateral exercises.  Cross lateral exercises are those in which parts of the body cross the midline.  The midline is an imaginary line that travels down the middle of our bodies, from the top of the head to between the feet.  Performing exercises that cause our body parts to cross that midline are important to helping the two hemispheres of our brain communicate with each other.  This communication helps to coordinate our learning and movements by strengthening nerve cell pathways. All cross lateral exercises from toe touches to windmills are helpful.  One specific exercise suggested by Ann Anzalone is the Cross Crawl.  This is useful when you need to be alert and focused, such as before a test.  Try doing following the steps below as quickly as you are able, while sitting down: Puppet movements-touch your left elbow to your left knee, then your right elbow to your right knee. Do 28 sets.   Crossover movements-touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. Do 28 sets. Do 14 sets of puppets. Do 14 sets of crossovers. Do 10 sets of puppets. Do 10 sets of crossovers. In addition to doing activities that force us to cross the midline, Anzalone also encourages frequent movement and activity of all kinds.  She suggests regular “brain breaks” that allow students to move to get their blood flowing and reduces stress.  Brain breaks that involve crossing the midline are ideal, but any exercise is helpful. She shares that one’s basic attention span is roughly equal to age plus 2, so movement is required more frequently for younger students. As we seek to help our students develop strong minds and bodies, we can use these ideas from Ann Anzalone to guide our activities.  Remember, these things are not only good for students at school-they are useful for us as parents, helping our kids with homework.  They also apply to us as adults.  We need to get out of our chairs and move frequently, too!
 
Christian Leadership
Mark Muehl | December 11, 2017
Distraction or Focused on Christ?
The reason for the season. Christmas is all about Jesus. There’s no question about this. It might get a bit trivialized with catchphrases like this but it’s absolutely true. Christmas is about Jesus. Jesus’ birth is more than a warm story filled with joy and happiness. To celebrate Christmas, to witness to kids and families about the “reason for the season,” is to see the baby Jesus in the shadow of Calvary’s cross. The two cannot be separated. The true joy of Christmas is about prophecies foretold and the climax of the prophecies to be played out in 33 years. Why human? Why God? Why Mary? Why Bethlehem? Human, because Jesus needed to live and fulfill the Law....as a man. He needed to be a perfect man. He needed to be us to save us (Galatians 4:4-5).  As man, for payment of sin, He died in payment for our sin (Hebrews 2:14). God, because his life and death needed to be God-sized to pay for humanity's sin (Mark 10:45). As God, He overcame death and the devil (Hebrews 2:14). Mary, because he was human and to fulfill prophecy (Is 7:14). Bethlehem, to fulfil prophecy (Micah 5:2) You know all this. These facts center our Christmas celebration. But consider everything else that has become part of the Christmas season. Gifts, cookies, parties, travel, family and so much more. If Jesus is the reason for the season and our schools are uniquely purposed for sharing Christ, why bother with so much of what often becomes burdensome and takes the joy away from the season? Consider then, what are the traditions that point us to Jesus? What do we do that help us celebrate Christ’s incarnation? Gift-giving- The materialism of Christmas marketing certainly is proof of the sinfulness of this world, but giving gifts is a wonderful way to point to Jesus. Jesus is THE gift of Christmas. Giving presents also remind us of the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus (which also foreshadow Jesus death). Giving gifts to show love for families and friends also reminds us of the gift of love in Christ. Gift-giving also encourages generosity in our kids. Christmas tree- A quick survey finds the Christmas tree having all sorts of possible pagan histories. However, German Lutherans like to connect Luther with the Christmas tree. Also, as recently as 2004, Pope John Paul called the Christmas tree a symbol of Christ. This very ancient custom, he said, exalts the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life, and it reminds Christians of the "tree of life" of Genesis 2:9, an image of Christ, the supreme gift of God to humanity. (Zenit News Agency. December 19, 2004). Lights- Clark Griswold (Christmas Vacation) may overdo it, but Christmas lights can be a striking way to demonstrate light’s overcoming of darkness, something the Gospel writer shares with such depth in John 1 in describing Christ’s entrance into the world and exposing the darkness of sin. Memorizing the Christmas story and Christmas hymns- Luke 2 and John 1. Micah 5:2. Isaiah 7:14, Galatian 4:4-5. These verses have been memorized and recited every Christmas program and service.  “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, “Joy to the World”, and “Silent Night”- all songs that share the Gospel and the sheer joy of Jesus birth. Why memorize? Having God’s word quick to mind is invaluable; certainly God’s word is the Spirit’s means of growing faith. But doesn’t it make sense to fill our minds with the riches of the season rather than those things which can distract or deter us from Christ? Family gatherings- It wasn’t much of a family gathering for Jesus, was it? Step-dad, mom and cattle. However, the hosts of heaven did do a marvelous job of sharing the news and plenty of visitors did show up at Jesus’ birth....some later visitors even brought gifts. The focus was Jesus....and when families gather the focus is probably NOT on Jesus. We may find out quickly WHY Jesus came as bickering occurs, tempers flare and everything and anything squelches the joy of the season. But can those gatherings be about unconditional love? Can they share carols and devotions? Can the generosity of gifts be reflective of the greatest gift of all? Christmas really is not about feeling all warm inside (look what it did to Frosty the Snowman). Christmas is about Jesus redeeming a broken world. There are plenty of traditions that support a sense of the real meaning of Christmas and here’s to a festive Christmas celebration. Remember, when it comes to Christmas (and for our Lutheran schools), it’s still “all about Jesus.
 
Funding the Mission
Jon Dize | November 13, 2017
The Generous Samaritan
“No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he only had good intentions. He had money as well." --Margaret Thatcher What do you think about this quote? Is it true? I have had this quote on my home office desk since ripping it off of my “Quote of the Day” calendar in 2006. I always thought of the quote as reflecting on money as the source of action. That is, you can have all the intent in the world, but without the means to fund your goals, you can’t get there. What better for a fundraiser to have on his desk? We need to ask for money to fund our mission! But in our Lutheran education world, how does this quote stand up? For nearly 200 years, Lutheran schools in Indiana were started by well-intentioned leaders, either to instruct the children of a congregation or reach out the community around the congregation. Members gave, buildings were built, teachers were hired, students were taught. But many time the act of giving is hushed and pushed aside until there is a dire need (“The roof is leaking!”), a capital campaign comes around, the dreaded “Stewardship Sunday” is scheduled, or a board member notes, “if everyone tithed we wouldn’t have these issues!” However, we are instructed by Paul in Romans 12 to use our gifts of giving: “if it is giving, then give generosity.” And I have always considered myself as an evangelist of the Cheerful Giver from 2nd Corinthians 9:7: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Ultimately, using the term my pastor uses every week, we got to own it; if you have the means, give. And give like you mean it. That is your gift. And if Google defines “generous” as “showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected”, then perhaps the Good Samaritan is in reality the Generous Samaritan: he certainly did more than what was expected, he did it cheerfully, and he owned it. It was his gift from God. Anyway, I think I will keep the quote in my stable of funny lines for future presentations, but thanks to my work with TLSP over the last 6 years, my perspective on it has forever been altered. For the good. P.S. And I would be remiss not to note that man, the big sack of maggots that we are, received the ultimate, undeserving generosity through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. No money exchanged hands there (well, Judas might say otherwise, but you get the point), but oh, what an investment He made.   Picture source: Time-Life
 
School Choice
Jon Dize | November 6, 2017
It’s All about the Kids
In my role as administrator of The Lutheran SGO of Indiana, I get to report to everyone on the benefits of the program; the 50% credit, growth of funds raised by our schools to over $1.7 million since July 1, how we are nearing 50% of the credits gone, and how we think the credits will be out again before Christmas.  And I also rave of the program’s secondary benefit to our schools: SGO fundraising has been the catalyst for many of our schools to begin a systematic plan for annual fundraising. They could see the benefit of mailing letters to alumni, inserting a bulletin insert of their scholarship need, and the eventual benefit of asking for estate gifts from those with a heart for educating kids in the love of Christ. But I was reminded a few months ago of what the SGO, and school choice is really all about: the kids. After a $50,000 stock gift was received by The Lutheran SGO to benefit one of our schools, I went to lunch with the donor to get their perspective on why they gave. This donor had lived a few blocks from the school for decades; they would have faced a huge capital gains tax had they not donated the stock; they were familiar with how other state tax credits worked in Indiana; and since any unused SGO tax credits can be rolled over up to nine years afterward, it was a no-brainer after their accountant told them about the options. But then came the final statement from across the table: “It's all about the kids, isn’t it?” $50,000 could mean up to 100 scholarships for families who want a quality, Christian education who might not otherwise have the opportunity. It is easy to forget why we are here. Thanks for reminding me.
 
SGO
Jon Dize | November 6, 2017
It’s All about the Kids
In my role as administrator of The Lutheran SGO of Indiana, I get to report to everyone on the benefits of the program; the 50% credit, growth of funds raised by our schools to over $1.7 million since July 1, how we are nearing 50% of the credits gone, and how we think the credits will be out again before Christmas.  And I also rave of the program’s secondary benefit to our schools: SGO fundraising has been the catalyst for many of our schools to begin a systematic plan for annual fundraising. They could see the benefit of mailing letters to alumni, inserting a bulletin insert of their scholarship need, and the eventual benefit of asking for estate gifts from those with a heart for educating kids in the love of Christ. But I was reminded a few months ago of what the SGO, and school choice is really all about: the kids. After a $50,000 stock gift was received by The Lutheran SGO to benefit one of our schools, I went to lunch with the donor to get their perspective on why they gave. This donor had lived a few blocks from the school for decades; they would have faced a huge capital gains tax had they not donated the stock; they were familiar with how other state tax credits worked in Indiana; and since any unused SGO tax credits can be rolled over up to nine years afterward, it was a no-brainer after their accountant told them about the options. But then came the final statement from across the table: “It's all about the kids, isn’t it?” $50,000 could mean up to 100 scholarships for families who want a quality, Christian education who might not otherwise have the opportunity. It is easy to forget why we are here. Thanks for reminding me.
 
News and Events
Jon Dize | January 11, 2018
529 Program Changes for Our Lutheran Schools
If you haven’t heard, Congress recently made some big changes to various tax laws, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. I will highlight most of these changes in an upcoming post, but today I was tasked with focusing on the new opportunities for our area Lutheran schools from the changes to 529 plans. As The Wall Street Journal noted recently, “529 College-Savings Plans Are Even Hotter After Tax Overhaul”, But what are 529 Plans? Named after a section of the tax code, 529s allow individuals to contribute after-tax dollars to a savings fund that is invested and grows tax-free. Withdraws are also tax-free if used to pay eligible college education expenses, including tuition, books, room, board, fees, books, etc. However, thanks to the new tax law changes, as of January 1 withdraws up to $10,000 per year are now also eligible for K-12 educational expenses at private and religious schools, including our area Lutheran schools and Concordia Lutheran High School. In addition to providing more options when it comes to saving for K-12 tuition, other key points making 529s worth a closer look include the following: Gifts to approved plans in Indiana are eligible for a 20% Indiana state tax credit, up to $5,000  that could result in a state tax credit up to $1,000. (State tax credits sound familiar? See here how this tax credit is similar and different than gifts to SGO Scholarships.) Contributions to 529s qualify for the gift-tax annual exclusion, currently at $15,000 per recipient ($30,000 for married contributors). Contributors may be able to even make five years’ worth of gifts in one lump sum ($75,000 single, $150,000 for those filing jointly). Contributors can be anyone… parents, grandparents, uncles, neighbors, former babysitters, anyone. This year total contributions cannot exceed $298,770 for all accounts for the same beneficiary in Indiana sponsored plans. Some families have utilized a plan similar to 529s, called Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. However, 529s may be more attractive because they do not have the income or contribution limits of Coverdells, nor do they have the contribution deadlines or account time limits of Coverdells. The new act can allow rollovers to 529s from Coverdells without tax consequences. So, how can K-12 schools promote and benefit from the enhanced 529 plans? Promote saving, as early as possible: wanting to send your newborn to a Lutheran school but worried about elementary school tuition? Or, do you have your K-8 costs managed, but wonder how you can afford sending Johnny to a Christ-centered high school? Start adding “Gifts to the 529” to everyone’s Christmas lists as soon as possible. The sooner you start saving, the greater the benefit from tax-free compounding interest. According to Indiana’s plan FAQ, while you cannot create a 529 account for an unborn child, you can create an account, name yourself as beneficiary, but later change the beneficiary to a future child. In Indiana, there is not a waiting period between donations and withdraws as long as the 529 account stays open for at least a year from the initial deposit date. How many other ways are there for grandparents to directly impact the education of Little Sally than helping fund their 529 plan, grow tax-free, and receive a 20% state tax credit in return?! Families pay for tuition, anyway… why not plan accordingly and receive a state tax benefit? If done right, perhaps schools can even reduce their reliance on School Choice Scholarships if more eligible students have 529 plans. As with anything new, please keep in mind the following: The dust is still settling on all of this; watch the news in the coming months for any clarifications or updates to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Make sure to continue to save for college… make K-12 education an addition to your plans. Indiana requires that you pick their approved plan in order to qualify for the deduction, as can be found here: CollegeChoice 529. You can only donate cash to Indiana’s plan; no stocks, bonds, credit cards, etc. Will Indiana’s approved plans have the best performance and fee structure? Maybe yes, maybe no. You should investigate all of the options, and funds are not guaranteed; values can go up and down with the financial markets. Verify how the potential tax credit will mesh with your other tax credit donations, such as the SGO tax credit. And of course, we strongly recommend discussing any and all options with a certified tax and financial professional to see if the 20% tax credit or annual/accelerated gift exclusion will work for you. At least now you have more options to consider and something to talk about with family,  school leadership, and advisors.
Emmaus
Emmanuel St. Michaels
Zion School Logo