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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 31, 2016
The Emotionally Safe Classroom
St. Paul’s Teachers Foster a Caring Learning Environment Jovita Nack, a fifth grade teacher at St. Paul’s Lutheran School, says that when a child does not feel safe, they cannot learn. “I came across a professor in college who understood classroom anxiety and said, ‘Think of me as someone who is like an editor and it won’t be as stressful.’ I flourished and came out of that experience and she helped me grow,” she adds. Brain research backs this up, highlighting how a child’s stress response system causes them to feel danger and impairs their ability to focus on anything else. Creating an emotionally safe classroom, where students can learn without having overwhelming stress, is the key to allowing students to flourish. She says there are three things that will foster an emotionally safe learning environment: A caring relationship and community Music, humor and movement An environment of relaxed alertness “The biggest thing is establishing caring relationships. The one thing I do everyday is smile at my kids,” Mrs. Nack says. “You don’t know what kind of morning these kids have had. Smiling and laughing make them feel better.” She emphasizes that establishing a relationship of trust is foundational to lowering their stress response in class. “That relationship is so important,” she adds. “They need to know you’re not going to embarrass them. You’re not going to point them out. You can choose to berate them or you can talk to them about making better choices.” These techniques include using humor as well as movement to keep students engaged. “Movement is important for ADHD kids,” Mrs. Nack adds. “They have to be engaged. Take that five minute break to do a stretch exercise. I also take a softball, wind it up like a pitcher and then when they catch it, they decide on a physical motion for the whole class, like jumping jacks.” Reducing stress helps to balance the neurotransmitters that control things like stress, well-being and calmness. “This all involves the brain God gave us. He knew we’d need the fight or flight response. All these things are there for a reason. But it’s not good to be there all the time. When the students live with that, they can’t remember things. The limbic system hijacks it.” So what can teachers do to relieve some of the stress responses in their students? It starts with making some simple changes. “There are so many things you can do in the classroom. I allow students to grade a paper and it eliminates a stress. It’s a learning tool. It gives them responsibility. Students need some control.” She also uses humor as a way to connect with students. “There are so many ways to redirect a student by using humor and implementing it into teaching techniques. Any chance you have to put humor in, it breaks the ice.” Mrs. Nack says as a result of using these techniques, she’s become a more relaxed teacher and that makes for more relaxed students. “After all the research, I realized if we don’t get to something today, I can do it tomorrow. The kids won’t be stressed out and I won’t be stressed out. It made me more aware of why we’re doing things.”
 
Christian Leadership
Mark Muehl | December 5, 2016
Farewell, Cindy McKinney
“This is my last newsletter for TLSP.  It has been such a pleasure and honor to serve our Lutheran schools.  I am thankful to Mark (Mark Muehl) and Jon (Jon Dize) for making the working environment so fun, yet productive.  I admire our principals who are asked to do so much with few resources.  And I love our teachers.  They are the hearts and souls of our Lutheran schools.  God speaks to our children through them, and I will truly miss the privilege of working with them.”             -Cindy McKinney It’s probably not a farewell that will go up there with Lou Gehrig’s, “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech in Yankee stadium. However, when a farewell was requested from Cindy, this was her response- simple, heartfelt and recognizing of God’s work in her and our schools. Over Cindy’s tenure as academic excellence coordinator, new programs were started, a variety of educational resources were shared and data has been emphasized in forming education goals and objectives. From Critical Friends Visits to curriculum mapping, our schools have been challenged to make productive and important changes. But probably the most important progress made for our schools is the move to collaboration and the growth of leadership within our network of schools. Andy Gavrun, principal of Wyneken Memorial Lutheran School shares about Cindy, “Your time, dedication, and service having been an amazing testimony of the leadership and support you have provided over the years.  I am especially thankful for all you have done with the target tech group, professional development, and your leadership in our administrative meetings.”  Andy’s thanks are representative of our schools’ administrators and teachers as we all have recognized Cindy’s subtle but effective efforts in growing an atmosphere of cooperation in our region. Cindy’s greatest gift is one of humility. Heidi Adair, vice chairman of TLSP’s Board of Directors says, “Your love for education and your desire to see our Lutheran Schools move forward was evident.  Your respect and enjoyment for the teachers in the Lutheran school system was also obvious.  I never felt as though you viewed yourself as the ‘person with all the answers’ but rather as a colleague coming alongside to share thoughts and perspectives in a way that moved the education ball forward.  You will be missed.” Peace and joy to you, Cindy. You have been blessed to be a blessing. God’s rich grace be evident to you in your new endeavors.
 
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 | October 24, 2016
Half of SGO State Tax Credits Remain
  The Lutheran Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) of Indiana raises funds from individuals and businesses to provide scholarship funds to all eligible students wanting to attend an Indiana Lutheran School. With a donation to the SGO of Indiana, donors can help fund scholarships—and receive a state tax benefit. The state of Indiana puts a cap on the amount of credits that can be applied each year. Once the cap amount is reached, no more credits are available until next July. As of October 17, 2016, half the SGO tax credits have been "shaved off"! $4.8 million in credits have been used, with $4.6 million remaining. By comparison, last year the halfway point was reached in mid-December. The 51 schools participating in the SGO program have raised a collective $1.2 million as of October 17, 2016, with $80,000 in donations submitted in one day!   Still wondering if donating to the Lutheran Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) is right for you? A. Do you have a heart for Lutheran education, and for providing scholarships for those wanting a Christian education from one of our schools? B. Are you interested in eliminating state taxes for yourself or your business? If you say “yes” to A and B, consider making that donation before Thanksgiving. Once again, the state of Indiana puts a limit on the state tax credits, and we fully expect the credits to be gone before Christmas! If you wait too long, you will miss out on the process for this tax year and you will need to wait until July 1, 2017 to once again be eligible for a state tax benefit. Please go to www.LutheranSGO.org for all the information you will need.  Jon at 260-203-4509 can answer any questions you might have about this opportunity to invest in Lutheran education and our Lutheran schools.   Image: Time-Life        
 
News and Events
Mark Muehl | November 11, 2016
Your Voice is Needed
The Indiana Non-Public Education Association (INPEA) is hosting a legislative engagement training meeting at the Indiana District office downtown Fort Wayne on November 17th from 6-7:30 PM. Come learn more about how to help the non-public school voice be heard. The event is open to anyone interested in connecting our parents and community with the upcoming legislative session in the new year. We invite anyone to attend this event, including pastors, administrators, student council/board members, and parents.   RSVP FOR THE TRAINING HERE November 17th, 2016 - Fort Wayne 6:00-7:30pm LCMS Indiana District 1145 S Barr St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802 We encourage all Lutheran schools to have at least one representative at this training because school choice legislation has had an impact on each of our Lutheran schools. For example: 15 of our 18 schools are benefiting from students in our schools receiving school choice scholarships (voucher). 40% of our region’s enrolled students are receiving a school choice scholarship (voucher). All schools in The Lutheran Schools Partnership (TLSP) are members of the Lutheran Scholarship Granting Organization of Indiana (LSGOI) Through school choice scholarships and/or donor tax credits, all TLSP schools are benefiting from the school choice program.   One more thought - does your school have a legislative liaison? Legislative liaisons are INPEA’s first stop for sharing important legislative information and asking for communication help. Make sure INPEA has the name and contact information for your school’s liaison. Email the information to Andrea Zimmerman at azimmerman@inpea.org
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