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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 | May 14, 2018
The Case for Advancement
Teacher, administrator, bookkeeper, education leader, secretary, counselor, admissions, PR, Athletic director, VBS, Sunday School, youth director, special ed. It’s quite the job description, that of a Lutheran school principal. For most Lutheran schools, the investment in staff is in the classroom while the administration of the schools is on the shoulder of a leader who hopes to have a strong, talented administrative assistant who can think ahead and work in effective support with the principal. It’s a taxing job, that of the Lutheran school principal. The roles are listed. Add to the responsibilities of state reporting, church leadership and its many meetings, human resource tasks and financial reporting and planning and the job is not just taxing but probably needs Superman/Wonder Woman to get it done. Years ago, the LCMS introduced the idea of an admission counselor. As part of the Funding Academy, administrators were challenged with addressing the empty seats in their schools. To do this, principals were faced with the challenges of getting the good word of their school out to the church community and beyond. Marketing efforts, admissions processes and retention strategies were listed. Yet how would one find 20 more hours to deal with this when a 60 hour labor of love was already being performed as a principal? Solution? Invest in an admission counselor (also known as enrollment manager). The rationale was clear- invest in a part-time person to own the enrollment process and by enrolling 4 or 5 additional students, the admission counselor’s part-time salary would be covered. It’s apparent that this plan has been well received synod-wide and the results have been effective. The wisdom (and desperation) that occurred to bring about this idea has been a healthy addition to many schools. 10 years later, the investment from school to school is realized. The admission counselor was about marketing as much as it was about funding. With tuition being a the #1 revenue source for many schools and a growing part of traditionally funded schools, the need for strong enrollments means better bottom lines and better programming. However, funding continues to be a challenge for schools. Expenses have increased due to the needs of the school. Expenses include increases in health benefits (but kudos to Concordia Health Plans for their strong efforts!), support for various student issues, responding to the growing realities of new teacher student debt and the effects of regulations imposed by the state and other regulatory agencies. While expenses have increased, funding sources have changed.  Congregational support has decreased, government support has increased, and tuition has increased. All of these issues contribute to funding issues. For many schools, salaries are in need of improving. Too often, the funding issues of the school land on the staff in a “fourth source” funding model- low pay and understaffed. So new funding models are sought. Some schools have looked to a higher ed model of funding that includes tuition, endowment, annual fund campaigns and grants to fund the mission. A growing number of Lutheran high schools are utilizing this design. But what is needed for a strong advancement effort? What expertise is needed? What tools are needed? As an example, consider the administration of receiving gifts. What policies are in place for the acceptance of a gift? How can a donor be encouraged toward the needs of the school? How can the donor be certain that his/her direction for the gift is honored? What happens when a gift is received? Who receives it? Who deposits it? Who says thank you? Who tracks the gift giving? What templates are in place for acknowledgement of the gift? What receipt is needed for the  gift? Is there a difference in terms of acknowledgement and receipt based on the type and size of the gift? How quickly should thanks be given? These are just the issues within the topic of gift reception. What happens when endowments are considered? How does one continue engagement with donors? How are potential donors sought and fostered? Those knowledgeable and with expertise in the area of fundraising talk about three major areas of administering an ongoing advancement effort. Pull away the marketing portion of the effort and the three major necessities are maintaining a database (including tracking donations), operating an annual fund campaign and growing the endowment. Operating a database is extremely valuable but takes time to manage. Carrying out an annual fund campaign needs planning that includes themes, stories, determining a campaign goal and being sure to follow-up with all donations. Growing endowment takes time as relationships are gained and fostered, opportunities to give are shared and gifts are received. If these efforts were easy, everyone would have these in place and everyone would invest in the ongoing efforts. However, fundraising takes time, takes expertise and takes an investment of people and money. There is no simple answer to growing advancement efforts. However, be sure that someone needs to own the effort and it will take time before the benefits occur. As the job of the principal is already diverse and taxing, consider staffing for this need. Advancement staffing may not be understood within our Lutheran schools. Now is the time to make this effort happen. As many are experiencing strong returns in financial investments of the past, it’s time for asking of support of school ministry to occur now. We need to talk and be better informed on this need and do our best to staff for this effort. Advancement and fundraising is about generosity. It’s about support. It’s about making sure the Gospel continues to be shared. Just as is the case for elements of the school, advancement as well is all about Jesus.  
 
Quality Education
Alicia Levitt | February 26, 2018
Brain Break Challenge
What do you get when you give a group of students an Ipad or a cell phone and a challenge?  Amazing videos! The Lutheran Schools Partnership sponsored a Brain Break Video Contest for our schools to celebrate National Lutheran Schools Week.  Many of our schools use websites like www.GoNoodle.com to provide “brain breaks” for students during the school day.  To celebrate National Lutheran Schools Week and to celebrate what makes us unique, we challenged our schools to create brain breaks that show who we are, and that we could use in our TLSP schools. Brain breaks are short, active times in the classroom that allow students to get out of their seats, get their bodies moving, and get their brains ready to learn more.  Having videos that students can follow along with for these brain breaks is fun for students and helpful for teachers. In a previous article, Keeping the Brain In Mind, I referenced the research on cross-lateral exercises, and their importance for children.  We encouraged our brain break video creators to include those types of exercises in their 1-3 minute videos. In all, eighteen brain break videos were submitted by six of our TLSP schools.  Some videos were put together by classes of students with teacher leadership, and some were created by small groups of students working almost independent of teacher help.  It is a true reflection of the excellence of our schools to see the creative, funny, and useful videos created by our students that also share the Gospel message.   A committee of four TLSP teachers judged the videos using guidelines that had been shared with schools when they were invited to enter the contest.  Honorable mention awards went to St. Peter’s sixth grade for their “Lit” brain break, Ascension Kindergarten and first grade for their “Can’t Stop the Praising” video, and St. Paul’s first and second grade for their “JESUS” video.  Each of these schools received a Meijer gift card.  First place in the Brain Break Video Contest was awarded to Mr. Buuck’s third grade at Emmanuel-St. Michael Lutheran School for their video, It’s All About Jesus.  Their class received a Visa gift card. The eighteen videos created for the contest are located on a Google Team Drive to which only teachers in TLSP have access.  Teachers can now use the video brain breaks in all their classrooms, sharing the talents and imaginations of our schools with one another.  
 
Christian Leadership
Mark Muehl | May 7, 2018
Teacher Appreciation Week
In recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week, here are TLSP staff reflections on their memories of a favorite teacher. Alicia: A teacher for whom I give thanks often is Mrs. Feuerbach, at Zion Lutheran School in Wilton, Iowa.  Mrs. Feuerbach was my kindergarten teacher, but so much more. She was my choir director, my volleyball coach, my friend’s mom, and my cheerleader.  She was loving and kind, but firm. Mrs. Feuerbach made her classroom a place I wanted to be, full of music and laughter. She showed me what it means to be “all in” with ministry- giving your time, talents, and treasures.  She encouraged me as a student, but has also been a kind encourager during my own years in ministry. Thanks, Mrs. Feuerbach! Jon: I still have my strongest “warm fuzzies” for my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Schwartz. Why was she my favorite teacher? That’s a hard answer to pinpoint; she was funny, she was fair, but most importantly, she was caring. You know she and her beehive hairdo cared for every one of us. Looking back with 40 years of hindsight, she seemed innovative (at least to me) in that she was the only teacher that had tiered spelling, reading, and math groupings for the students so that kids with like skill levels in those areas learned at the appropriate paces (I was a “Gorilla” in Math and Reading, but an “Orangutan” in spelling. If I only had spellcheck back then...). And she seemed to be able to do everything, from creative Halloween decorating skills to patiently directing the third grade play. If third grade/8 or 9 years old is when you start seeing the world for what it is, she made reality enjoyable and understandable, and encouraged us to do great things. All in all, as a 2nd grader, you usually prayed to get into Mrs. Schwartz’s class the next year. I was one of the lucky ones. Jessica: Mr. Henry Foote was my 6th grade teacher. I was new to the school and also new to the Church. In his class I learned a lot academically, but I also learned a lot about the faith having just been baptized that summer. I especially remember him playing kickball with us at recess and making up crazy stories during our Spelling tests using that week’s word list. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but it was Mr. Foote who showed me what it was to be a Lutheran School teacher. It was through seeing him volunteer as coach, pick up chairs after events, and do all those extra little things that come with being on a faculty at a Lutheran School, that I saw what it really meant to serve. It was Mr. Foote and his wife Karen (also a Lutheran School teacher) that really encouraged me to attend a Concordia and become a Lutheran School teacher. Now here I am; a Lutheran School teacher married to another Lutheran School teacher. I am now blessed to call Henry and Karen friends as they continue to teach and encourage me as I continue in my own vocation. I try to play kickball with students when I can but I have yet to really master those crazy Spelling test stories…... Mark: Stecker, Lau, Schumann, Tarble, Kopischke, Henning, Martens- those were my Lutheran elementary teachers in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Add to the list Pastors Messerschmidt, Krueger, Murray and Jansen. It was Pastor Messerschmidt who encouraged church work for me (he prodded me toward being a pastor though). But the teacher of note and not listed above- my Dad. Dad loved teaching. Dad loved music; he was choir director and church organist. He worked long hours but I never heard him grumbling. And he certainly loved (and loves) his Savior (83 years old, teaches Bible class and is the financial secretary of his church). Do I have stories? Sure do! Pull up a chair with me sometime- we’ll talk. For the record, the fad of “loud socks” was started by my Dad!  
 
Funding the Mission
Jon Dize | August 13, 2018
The Giving USA Report for 2018 is Ready to View
The Giving USA Report for 2018 is Ready to View Every year, Giving USA releases the state of giving in America. You can see the graphic below or view it here. … What does this report tell us for giving in 2017? Total giving topped $400 billion for the first time. Billion. With a B. Perhaps hitting common wisdom, over 70% of giving every year still comes from individuals. And when you add the 9% from individual giving by bequests (wills), and the estimated ½ of foundation giving that comes from Donor Advised Funds and personal foundations, then we are talking about 87% of giving coming from people. Conversely, then, not very much giving comes from corporations or foundations. Think about that the next time someone says, “Foundation grants are our saving grace.” However, writing grants and asking for corporate gifts have their place. However, meeting with people appears to provide a pretty good Return On Investment of time and resources. Giving to Religion is 31% of total giving; while this number is lower than in the past when nearly 50% of all gifts benefitted religion, it is important to note that this category only includes religious organizations like churches, synagogues, etc. Schools, like our 19 Lutheran schools in NE Indiana, are listed in the next category, Education, which is 14% of total giving (also includes universities, etc.) Therefore, while an organization may be religious, it will be classified by its operational sector. What does this mean? While giving to churches may be decreasing, giving to church-related organizations is holding steady. It also means that fundraising for cute kids in Lutheran schools should be (relatively) easy! Get out there and ask, folks, and feature stories and pictures of the students.
 
School Choice
Mark Muehl | April 23, 2018
Primer on School Choice
School Choice. It’s a controversial topic that is like a tsunami throughout our country. School Choice is about kindergarten through grade 12 options for education- public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling. School choice is about programs that give access to these options. School choice is about trusting parents to make the best choices for their children. It’s an exciting age that we live in. The days of choosing between the neighborhood public school or a community’s religious school is long gone. School Choice in its broadest sense has opened the doors to a variety of options for children. Public schools have created choices within their own system. Magnet schools (public schools organized around a theme such as STEM or global studies) and even local public choice have opened the door for new opportunities. Religious schools provide a stark difference in curriculum and culture that many parents desire for their children. Technology allows for new delivery methods in traditional school settings. Technology also can also support parents’ desires to homeschooling through online academies and the like, using the home’s nurturing environment to support learning. School choice programming supports parents’ ability to choose. Here are some of the ways states have made accessibility to school options possible (definitions from EdChoice)- Vouchers (choice scholarships)- Vouchers allow students to attend private school with the government providing a set amount of tuition money directly to parents for private schools. Programs vary, but in many cases, private schools accepting voucher students are not subject to most government oversight (for example- mandatory services for students with disabilities), though they often must meet certain organizational standards (for example- accreditation). Tax Credit Scholarships- Tuition tax credits can operate in different ways. One is as scholarship tax credits, which give individuals and businesses tax credits for charitable donations to private, nonprofit organizations that provide private school scholarships. Similar to vouchers, funds for these scholarships are raised and distributed in the private sector. Tax Credits- individual tax credits (or deductions), which provide families with tax benefits for private school expenses, such as tuition and textbooks. Education Savings Accounts- Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) offer “educational” choice, removing the requirement that public funds be applied to school enrollment. Instead, a state puts money into special savings accounts that parents manage for education expenses. These programs vary by state, but generally the funds represent all or some of what would otherwise be spent educating the child in a public school. The money can be used for qualifying expenses that may include private school tuition and fees, homeschooling materials, tutoring and test prep, homeschooling materials, therapeutic services, transportation, and more. Why share this quick primer on school choice? Much time could be spent in defending school choice programs. In many of our states, verbal and written battles rage on the right and wrong of school choice programs. At this point, courts have supported school choice programming but challenges continue. So for the purpose of this article, let the laws speak for themselves from state to state. But how does a Lutheran school consider the value of school choice? How does a school determine its involvement in various choice programs? What are the ramifications of such involvement? Three issues come to mind: Issue of trusting parents decisions- At its roots, school choice is about parents’ ability to choose what is best for their family. One can argue about access and about value. But if one peels aways the arguments against choice, one might conclude that school choice says to parents, “We know what’s best for your child” versus “You know what’s best for your child.”  Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), when serving as the U.S. Secretary of Education in 1992, asked, ”If we trust parents to choose child care for their children, and if we trust them to help their children choose a college to attend—and both those systems have been so successful and are so widely supported– then why do we not also trust parents to choose the best elementary and high school for their children?”  Lutheran schools have long understood that education is about partnerships- home, school and church. Children are gifts to and of family. Family is the cellular part of society- not institutions. It’s the church’s and school’s responsibility to empower, educate, and support families in their God given responsibilities. Issue of dependence- Lutheran schools are fiercely independent. School Choice participation may seem to be a challenge to that independence. Examining the programs and judging its impact on budgets, curriculum and community are important issues to dig into before choosing to be part of school choice. Choice may be beneficial short term but may be damaging long term. As is always the case, discernment is important. Issue of mission- School choice will impact mission. Schools must determine whether the program(s) support or challenge mission. Does the program offer a unique outreach opportunity? Does the program bring stipulations that can challenge statements of faith? Will the program bring a new way to support families ability to support their school and church? For our schools, for parents, the major subject is Jesus. Our schools are about the pure proclamation of the Gospel, the saving message of Christ and his redemptive work. It’s the biggest issue to address when it comes to a school’s decision to be involved in school choice....our schools are still all about Jesus.  
 
SGO
Jon Dize | August 16, 2018
Learn and Lead 2018
On June 4 & 5, 40 attendees basked in the light of the stained glass windows of Concordia Lutheran High School’s Worship Conference Center (see picture) as The Lutheran Schools Partnership hosted its annual Learn & Lead conference. As usual, we invited our schools and associated churches, but then also opened spots for schools that are part of The Lutheran SGO in the state, churches in the District, and then other Lutheran-based RSOs and nonprofits. This year we brought in the faculty from The IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy who taught their popular “Fundraising for Small Nonprofits” two day course. We wanted to bring this class to Fort Wayne because professional development is VERY KEY to success in the fundraising industry, but many budgets for fundraising staffers are limited. By bringing the IU School of Philanthropy to Fort Wayne, attendees did not have to travel, have overnight accommodations, nor worry about daytime meals (we fed everyone well for morning to afternoon shifts). While we could tell you how wonderful the instructional sessions were, let those that attended tell you in their own words what they thought of the two days: “I appreciate that the content and instructor understood the realities of a small non-profit and recognized the starting point at which most of us begin.” “I have attended many presentations in my career and this was by far one of the best speakers, along with useful material I can take and run with in my position.” “Bill was wonderful in explaining the the process.  He provided many real life examples and kept me engaged throughout the course.” “Very good use of the money and time I spent at the training session.” “Would highly recommend this course.” “Practical USEFUL information that can be implemented NOW (while providing plenty to review and become better at in the future).” We look forward to hosting more well-received options for our schools such as this year for years to come. P.S. SAVE THE DATE: June 3-5, 2019 We will be partnering with ALDE in 2019 to bring their Essentials in Fundraising Course for Executive Directors and their course for those new to fundraising. Plan your time and budgets accordingly!
 
News and Events
Jon Dize | August 16, 2018
Learn and Lead 2018
On June 4 & 5, 40 attendees basked in the light of the stained glass windows of Concordia Lutheran High School’s Worship Conference Center (see picture) as The Lutheran Schools Partnership hosted its annual Learn & Lead conference. As usual, we invited our schools and associated churches, but then also opened spots for schools that are part of The Lutheran SGO in the state, churches in the District, and then other Lutheran-based RSOs and nonprofits. This year we brought in the faculty from The IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy who taught their popular “Fundraising for Small Nonprofits” two day course. We wanted to bring this class to Fort Wayne because professional development is VERY KEY to success in the fundraising industry, but many budgets for fundraising staffers are limited. By bringing the IU School of Philanthropy to Fort Wayne, attendees did not have to travel, have overnight accommodations, nor worry about daytime meals (we fed everyone well for morning to afternoon shifts). While we could tell you how wonderful the instructional sessions were, let those that attended tell you in their own words what they thought of the two days: “I appreciate that the content and instructor understood the realities of a small non-profit and recognized the starting point at which most of us begin.” “I have attended many presentations in my career and this was by far one of the best speakers, along with useful material I can take and run with in my position.” “Bill was wonderful in explaining the the process.  He provided many real life examples and kept me engaged throughout the course.” “Very good use of the money and time I spent at the training session.” “Would highly recommend this course.” “Practical USEFUL information that can be implemented NOW (while providing plenty to review and become better at in the future).” We look forward to hosting more well-received options for our schools such as this year for years to come. P.S. SAVE THE DATE: June 3-5, 2019 We will be partnering with ALDE in 2019 to bring their Essentials in Fundraising Course for Executive Directors and their course for those new to fundraising. Plan your time and budgets accordingly!
Emmaus
Emmanuel St. Michaels
Zion School Logo