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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 | March 31, 2016
Lutheran South Unity School Encourages Young Authors
First Grade Teacher Inspires Students Through Writing Workshops In Judith Sabel’s classroom at Lutheran South Unity School, students are hunched over their desks, scribbling out words. Colorful signs remind students to use “sparkly words” and ask questions. These first graders are participating in a writing workshop, learning how to see themselves as authors who are developing their unique writing voice. Mrs. Sabel was inspired by a professional development opportunity last summer at Columbia University’s Teachers College, a weeklong intensive designed for teachers to learn how to conduct writing workshops. Mrs. Sabel is a veteran teacher, boasting 32 years of experience including 6 years at Zion Lutheran School in Fort Wayne and 7 years at Lutheran South Unity School. “Writing has become an essential part of our curriculum today,” Mrs. Sabel says. “When I went through school, there were no classes on teaching writing,” she notes. “Opportunities for young children to write reinforce their thinking, reading and spelling skills.” LSUS principal, Krista Nagy agrees, “Our aim is to get all students writing fluidly. Students think better when they’re actively engaged in thinking and writing. It’s really important for students to have a voice.” This workshop style is a different way of learning to write—one that allows for more of a student-directed approach to writing. For example, children begin by listening to a “mentor text,” a book introducing students to various aspects of narrative writing. After students decide on their own personal story to write, they tell their story in sequence, draw pictures to go with it, and then write their story. Mini-lessons on catchy introductions and conclusions, elaboration, punctuation, spelling and grammar are incorporated into each unit. This allows Mrs. Sabel to enrich her students’ vocabulary, language abilities, self-expression, and critical thinking skills through writing. “With writing workshops, you have to take a child where they are and work with them,” notes Mrs. Sabel of the individualized approach. Working with a partner to evaluate, proofread, and edit each other’s work is part of the approach. “One child wrote about something they liked and said, ‘It’s great and I love it!’ But the other kids noticed what was missing in her writing and said, ‘You need to give reasons.’” Mrs. Sabel teaches students that they must have reasons to support their ideas, a necessary skill for the future when students write research papers. Besides learning to evaluate each other’s writing, students are exposed to a wide variety of styles. They write reviews by bringing in a toy collection and writing about their favorite. When students cover nonfiction books, they teach something in the style of a “how-to” book and add pictures to emphasize their point. Mrs. Sabel takes it one step further, giving students the opportunity to give a speech on their writing topic. The impact on students is transformative, as kids begin to see themselves as authors who have a voice in the world. “Students see themselves as authors. It’s exciting to see their growth and ability to communicate,” Mrs. Sabel adds. “At the beginning of the year one student was writing only a few words on each page. Now he fills his whole page providing descriptions and dialogue. Another very capable student wrote very little during the allotted workshop time, but recently wrote an excellent review about Applebee’s that served as a model for other students.” Stories like this show us how the continued practice of writing transforms kids into authors at Lutheran South Unity School. Mrs. Sabel is pursuing that goal with the students at LSUS every week, inspiring budding authors to communicate through their words. “It was an amazing opportunity,” she says of her week at Columbia University. The opportunity not only benefits her personally, but every student in her classroom at Lutheran South Unity School and beyond.
Quality Education
Mark Muehl | May 2, 2016
Emmaus Helps Family Afford Education
Family Connects Emmaus with Starbase Indiana In 2011, Heather Dye was a single mom, homeschooling two children and struggling to make ends meet. She wondered how she was going to put food on the table. Heather needed some solutions and knew that sending her son, Lucas, to school would free her up to help her daughter, who was confined to a wheelchair due to a neuromuscular disorder. But how would she continue to foster Lucas’ love for learning in a Christian environment? Heather knew something had to change. She says, “While I enjoyed teaching my children, saw their obvious growth and success, I knew that with my daughter's growing health demands I needed extra help beyond our homeschool co-op.” That’s when the Dye family found Emmaus Lutheran School. “This new journey was a bit scary for our family, but everyone at Emmaus made it a joy. We were pleasantly surprised by Lucas's ease into school and happy to maintain schooling with a Christ-centered focus.” Emmaus was able to help the Dye family financially by providing a scholarship for her son, who was placed a grade ahead of his age. Because Lucas is a science nut, Heather nurtured her son’s love for learning through a science program called Starbase Indiana, a free STEM camp that is open to all area students. “As we struggled with new obstacles, Starbase was a delightfully welcomed, free schooling extension option in our lives,” she adds. After finding out about the program, Heather introduced Starbase Indiana to Emmaus Lutheran School. Starbase 1.0 is a five-day camp for fifth graders, while Starbase 2.0 is for sixth through eighth graders. The goal is to motivate students to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as they continue their education. The program engages students through an inquiry-based curriculum. Starbase has both a school-year program and a summer camp. Through Starbase 2.0, Emmaus middle schoolers were able to launch a weather balloon that went up almost 100,000 feet. They were the first school in the area to do it. Middle school science teacher, Jessica LaBrash, said the weather balloon allowed students to see the effects of altitude on objects they sent with the balloon, like eggs and water. With cameras, sensors and GPS, they were able to track the balloon’s location and answer questions like how pressure and temperature affect various objects. The weather balloon launch was a huge success, with students sharing their excitement on Twitter. “These pictures are blowing my mind,” one student shared. Another tweeted, “Can’t believe our balloon went 98,000 feet in the air. Absolutely incredible.” Through Emmaus’s partnership with Starbase Indiana, kids like Lucas are able to develop a love for STEM learning even more, both inside and outside the classroom. Since Lucas started at Emmaus, things in the Dye Family have changed for the better. Heather finished her bachelor’s degree, started working at Starbase Indiana and got married last year. She now acts as the strategic planning manager for Starbase and helps coordinate their summer camps. The program continues to grow with several Lutheran schools participating in the Starbase 1.0 and 2.0 program. Heather admits they couldn’t be more pleased with Emmaus Lutheran School’s investment in her son. “Lucas is without a doubt a shining example of how investing in kids like him who want educational growth in Lutheran schools, but may not quite be able to financially obtain , is paying big dividends,” she adds. “We are delighted to be looking to a future in which we can return the grace and favor the Lutheran Schools have shown to us, and help other families who may find themselves in similar situations.”
Christian Leadership
Mark Muehl | April 28, 2016
The Power of Relationships
Concordia Lutheran School Emphasizes ‘Relationships Over Rules’ Relationships matter at Concordia Lutheran School. Just ask fourth grade teacher Rich Schwantz. In his 25 years of teaching, he estimates he’s visited the homes of 400 students. “I am super old fashioned. Rich says. “I’m still that guy that gets in the car and visits every home of my students. It’s amazing to learn how pivotal it is to develop relationships with parents and children. It’s beneficial in so many ways.” One student, who was new and formerly attended public school, was skeptical Mr. Schwantz would visit his family at home. “I got there late and knocked on the door. Dad opened the door and said, ‘Teach, you came! You came!’ He couldn’t believe I kept my word. I was able to give CLS instant credibility,” Rich adds. “This is my way of letting them know that I will visit them on their turf, on their terms. It also lets the parents know I’m there and I’m willing to serve them throughout the year.” Home visits are one way that Mr. Schwantz builds a supportive network between parents and teachers at Concordia Lutheran School. It opens the door to better communication between teachers and parents and lets the students know how much the school cares. Sara Goeglein, a third grade teacher, has experienced that same care and support firsthand at Concordia Lutheran School. In October, her young son was at a routine doctor’s appointment when they found a heart murmur. He was taken to the hospital for further testing where they discovered a hole in the valve of his heart. The whole CLS community rallied in support. “The staff was so supportive. Each morning we have devotions together and pray. It was so nice knowing that I had a community of believers helping my family through this situation. They provided meals for my family when he had surgery. The kids would include him in the prayers in class and parents emailed to ask how he was doing. I don’t know how we would have made it without their support.” The CLS community cares for their families and staff, working hard to provide a great education while also encouraging a supportive network. “You don’t know how much people are there to help, until you need help,” Mrs. Goeglein adds. “It made me realize I want to know my families. I tell , ‘Let me know what’s happening, so I can pray.’” By focusing on relationships over rules, teachers, staff and parents create a compassionate school environment for students. Because of the Christ-centered focus, staff can pray with students and families, supporting their needs spiritually, physically, and emotionally. “I hope as a school we use communication that Christ has created in us—a love that can only come through him. Genuine care, love, empathy,” Mr. Schwantz says. “Many of us are parents too. We understand our wants and needs for our children. We wear our hearts on our sleeve.” Mrs. Goeglein adds, “I’ve never been anywhere where I’ve seen people so close. You all have to be on the same page.” It’s this commitment to relationships, whether working with parents or other teachers that unites the school into a caring community. “It starts with teachers, support staff and Lori Stout at the door.” Mr. Schwantz says. “It’s building that bridge. It starts with that attitude of ‘We’re here to serve and what do you need?’” By fostering close relationships through home visits, prayer, and close relationships, Concordia Lutheran School creates a caring community that supports its families and staff, even after students have graduated. “I still have students from my very first year teaching and I still check in with them,” Mrs. Goeglein adds. “I have two kids at home, but I have 22 others. Those relationships are built in your classroom.”
Funding the Mission
Jon Dize | April 22, 2016
Shaking the Apple Tree
Creating a Successful Fundraising Program “First I shake the whole Apple tree, that the ripest might fall. Then I climb the tree and shake each limb, and then each branch and then each twig, and then I look under each leaf.” -- Martin Luther If you have listened to me long enough, you will recognize this quote from Martin Luther as my favorite example of the successful fundraising process: schools have limited time, limited staffing, and limited resources; therefore, to help bake their fundraising pie they need to first approach their best donor prospects (the ripest apples) and after that list of prospects have been contacted, go to the next best group (each limb), and then the rest of their prospects (branches, twigs, and leaves). A school’s fundraising program can only be successful if someone actually shakes that tree; plenty of leadership boards and committees talk about the need for the apple tree to be shaken, or even talk about planting the tree in the first place, but to see donations someone has to do it. Branches do not shake themselves outside of a storm... Six of our area Lutheran schools took the step, and a few more are looking into the options, to hire a part-time or full-time advancement staffer to take control of that apple tree. And we couldn’t be happier. Photo Credit: www.Keyhubs.com Not only are current SGO scholarship balances and endowment matches growing for these schools, but their long-term success roots are growing in a promising pattern. One school reported that when their fundraising staff member recently reconnected with a lapsed major donor, the donor exclaimed, “I’ve been waiting for someone at to get going on this!” Another school reports raising the largest balance of SGO dollars ever, while another reached and surpassed its endowment match challenge for the first time in several years. What could make us happier? More schools with staff to shake the trees. Give us a call and we can explain the options, the opportunities, and provide a few suggestions on helping fund the startup of this position.
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 | February 10, 2016
Stop Sending
That is what the email from the Indiana Department of Revenue said this week: “Stop Sending”. While most people dread an email from the DOR, we get them regularly at The Lutheran SGO of Indiana as we secure SGO Tax Credit certificates for donors to the 48 schools in our SGO family. Unfortunately, this email told us what we already knew was coming: no more credits available. Return to sender, no one home. While last year we ran out of $7.5 million in credits in the middle of June, having to wait only a couple of weeks to have credits available again, this year across the state the SGO program went through $8.5 million in about seven months. Yes, we’re addressing these numbers correctly: even with an extra million of credits, donors zipped through the benefits of supporting scholarships coupled with a 50% state tax credit in record delivery time. First to good news: thanks to the SGO program, $15 million dollars were donated by individuals, couples, and businesses to support scholarships for families wanting a quality, non-public education in Indiana. $17 million; talk about a seal of approval! Unfortunately, on the flip side: there are now 5 months of no donations, 5 months of donors not giving, and 5 months of potential scholarship money that will either not be donated, or will be delayed until the fall. And with a potential backlog of 5 months of demand, no telling how quick the credits will run out this fall. The Indiana legislature did give us another million in credits for the 2016-17 school year, but judging by the handwriting on wall, we may be receiving next year's “Stop Sending” email even sooner. even BEFORE the calendar year-end. What does this mean for you? Better get your stamps and envelopes ready to go sooner than later this fall and not wait until December 15 to make that SGO gift, just to be safe. (Or, consider monthly automatic giving. Or better yet, use our online giving option! Don’t forget about donations of stocks and mutual funds, too...) P.S., please note that if you do not want or need the SGO tax credit, you can continue to support scholarships and continue to send those donations to us we’ll keep checking the mailbox and will open all emails, no matter what.
News and Events
Mark Muehl | April 18, 2016
Ascension Student to Compete in World Games
Spiritual Lessons Learned at Ascension Provide Strong Foundation Tess Barlow, a seventh grader at Ascension Lutheran School, looks like a normal middle schooler, hanging out with friends and finishing homework. But what you don’t know about Tess might surprise you. Earlier this year, Tess was selected for the U.S. Martial Arts Team and will be competing at the World Martial Arts Games in South Africa. But the building blocks for her success at karate started long before her selection on the national team, when the Barlow family discovered Ascension and started their daughter in preschool. “I can’t say enough good things about Ascension,” her mom, Chris, says. “She was baptized here and what I have seen is a beautiful confidence in her faith.” Her mom says that Ascension’s “Learn by Heart” Bible memory program has made an impact on her daughter by helping students commit scripture to heart. “It’s one of the distinguishing things about Ascension,” Chris adds. “They learn a Bible verse, catechism, and the first verse of a hymn every week.” The program has a three-year curriculum that builds on itself. After three years, students repeat the program with longer verses. By providing a strong Christian foundation for the students at Ascension, students like Tess learn to tackle the hard questions in life. “Several years ago, a family lost their son to an accident,” Chris says. “The Sunday after their son was buried, I was sitting behind that family and Tess was next to me. Tears were falling down my face. While we were driving home Tess said, ‘Why were you crying? Their son is in heaven and he’s okay now.’ That’s just an example of her confidence in her faith.” As Tess has grown up, she continues to make new discoveries—the most recent being a talent in the martial arts. After asking her mom for years if she could take karate lessons, Tess approached her mom with a coupon from the newspaper for a free lesson. That first lesson led to a dream come true experience. “She had only been training for less than a year and was at a conference where one of the head coaches from the U.S. martial arts team was attending,” Chris explains. “They saw her working, and they recognized that even though she had been training for a short time, she had natural ability and asked if she would join the U.S. martial arts team.” Tess accepted the invitation and will be traveling to the World Martial Arts Games in Johannesburg, South Africa this October. Her mom adds, “It’s been a great part of Tess’ life. learned a lot about respect, hard work and humility.” But no matter how Tess performs at the World Martial Arts Games, the lessons she’s learned at Ascension are far more important. These lessons, especially about faith, are why the Barlow family can’t say enough good things about the school. “I always encourage people to consider Ascension,” Chris adds. “It’s a special place students get to grow academically, physically spiritually.”
Emmanuel St. Michaels
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