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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 | December 20, 2016
Christmas as a Lesson in Teaching
What did Mary see? An angel visiting at her front door. A bustling town so busy that there were no rooms at the inn. A barn full of animals. Excited shepherds worshipping her firstborn son and telling tales of angel choruses. The mother of our Lord saw a lot, and Luke says, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” What are you seeing this Christmas and what do you treasure? The joy of sharing Christmas programs and student-led Christmas services are highlights of Lutheran-school calendars. My wife and I include within our Christmas traditions Lessons and Carols at Concordia University Chicago and Christmas at the Embassy, presented by the Concordia Lutheran High School Fort Wayne’s music department. Each of these events beautifully share the Christmas story and seem to create a connection with all who attend. Why is it that Christmas tugs at our hearts? So many folks, even some non-Christians, connect strongly with Christmas. No doubt much of the tug is its “Immanuel” message (God with us). The reality of God in human form, the Creator walking with His creation–it’s “a great and mighty wonder” that God comes to us so uniquely. Christmas is about promises fulfilled, hope for the future, peace that transcends human initiative. Could it be that our love for Christmas comes from the full use of human senses in sharing the narrative of Christmas? Consider the fact that most people are visual learners. When words are connected with images, learning is maximized (Gwen C. Nugent’s article “Pictures, audio, and print: symbolic representation and effect on learning” published in Educational Technology Research and Development, Volume 30, Number 3 (1982), 163-174). Brain research also demonstrates that human eyes are capable of registering 36,000 visual messages per hour, and that over 80 percent of all information that is absorbed by the brain is visual in nature. Some of the best communicators in history–including our Savior (e.g., His parables)–taught using the power of the metaphor and image. (Consider reading more on the topic of visual learners on Tim Elmore’s blog.) In light of these facts, it’s no small wonder that the Christmas narrative is so ingrained in our hearts. The visual of angels breaking through the darkness of night and singing to a ragtag group of shepherds in the fields outside of Bethlehem is shared with hymns, carols, art, and actors. A barn as the initial home for the King of Kings is depicted with manger scenes in homes, at churches, and even in “live” settings outside of churches. Mary caring for the Savior of the world while travelers from a distant land arrive with kingly gifts–gifts of great riches, but gifts that also foreshadow the King’s future death. You’ve “seen” this message shared in many ways over your life–in picture books, videos, and programs. Really, when all is said and done, Lutheran schools teach Christmas with all the wisdom and insights of 21st century best teaching practices! Images are everywhere in the Christmas narrative, and through our many senses, the message is shared in a variety of ways–ways that become fixed in our hearts. Hearing? Oh, those carols and hymns! We hear the Christmas story from OT prophecy to angels songs to reflections of Mary. While the words are filled with familiarity, many of the carols and hymns also eloquently share the authenticity of Christmas with words directly from holy writ. Which carols and hymns do you most enjoy? The solitude of Silent Night? The full Biblical historical narrative of The Messiah? The festive announcement of Joy to the World? Isn’t it interesting that these carols never get old? Their message and music transcend generations. Smell? Certainly there were many smells that were a part of that first Christmas, and most of those smells are not anticipated. But what about today’s aromas and how do they connect. What’s the big deal about the smell of gingerbread or the the overwhelming aroma of cinnamon? It may not be the smells themselves but surely just a bit of intentionality can connect Christmas traditions with the joy of the Christmas message. Smells that remind us of Grandma’s house remind us that family is the how God blesses us with community. Family is the cellular unit of a civilization and family with mom and dad are the way that God furthers his world. Touch? This sense might be the one that we need to work on the most.  Thanks to pictures, we may be able to visualize and emotionally attach to the narrative of Christmas but touch means so much to the human condition. In the Christmas message is God in human form. He takes on skin and bones and his mother touches him, holds him, cares for him. There’s a physical bond with God and man and it’s one that is physically felt. Hugs, hand shakes, sitting on Grandpa’s lap are part of what creates the warmth of Christmas. Knowing the gift of touch and how the gentle touch of mom or the firm grasp of Dad are so meaningful in our lives, how does touch become ministry? Should part of Christmas be spending time in the neonatal section of the hospital? Do those with young children have a greater corner on the market of appreciating Christmas? Taste? Most of the tastes that come along during Christmas season are purely secular. However, those “tastes” provide some of the memories we connect with Christmas. That’s why it’s important for “tastes” to be shared with stories. Wafer thin sugar cookies that bring up memories of Grandma. Fruitcakes that make everyone enjoy their own version of “Why do we make these?”  The greatest taste of Christmas is the greatest taste of every Divine Service. In the Sacrament of the Altar, we taste and see that the Lord is good. We hear the words of our Lord as we share of His Body and Blood, as we commune with our fellow believers and as we commune with the heavenly hosts. The angels song of Christmas, Gloria in Excelsis of Divine Service, is joined with the saints and sinners of this time and place. Holy Communion is the highest point of the Christmas celebration. Oh, Christmas is good teaching! “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Col 3:16).  Merry Christmas!
 
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 | January 9, 2017
New Year’s Fundraising Resolutions
I was going to write a “the best of 2016 in Fundraising” article, but decided to not dwell on the past (besides, I have already written about the success of the SGO program, among other highlights). Instead, as we look to the new year, I challenge you to raise a glass with me and consider some of the following charitable topics that I will be detailing in future newsletters this year: Tax-planning with SGOs: while credits are gone now, they will be back starting July 1; as one donor who squeaked his donation in just under the wire this year, “I’m definitely donating earlier next year!” Take a gander at what your total state tax bill was for 2016 and consider how much you could save by supporting scholarships in 2017... Endowments: our 18 Partner schools have an endowment matching challenge from The Lutheran Foundation. Consider how your gift to the school’s endowment could be doubled or tripled, and live on forever. Speaking of forever, spring is always a great time to review your estate plans, the beneficiary designations for your retirement accounts and insurance, and other similar documents. Consider adding Lutheran education to those plans; Lutheran education in Indiana has been going strong for nearly 200 years, you can help it thrive for the next 200. Speaking of retirement accounts, if you are 70 ½ years old or older, and the government is telling you that you have to take a required amount from your retirement account, consider a possible tax-free distribution from those accounts to a charity like one of our schools or the SGO. As with any change, make sure you discuss any of these options with your family and financial advisors. To take from one of the less-sang lines from “Auld Lang Syne”, make sure to “... tak' a cup o' kindness yet,” and support Lutheran education in 2017. Photo Cred: Time-Life Archives,  New Years Party Times Square Photograph: Walter Sanders Date taken: 1956  
 
School Choice
Mark Muehl | January 19, 2017
Rally, Rally, Rally!
The Lutheran Schools Partnership schools along with schools from the Fort Wayne/South Bend Diocese and other area non-public schools are planning a school choice rally at Concordia Theological Seminary’s Sihler Auditorium on Tuesday, January 24 at 4:30 PM. This rally is a time to demonstrate support of the school choice initiatives here in Indiana. School Choice is a big deal as more than 34000 Hoosier students are receiving choice scholarships (vouchers), making it the largest and fastest growing program in the nation. What does that say about the program? #1- The program is doing exactly what it was set up to do- give families a choice in where their child is attending school. No rhetoric is needed to support that fact- families are making use of school choice and the numbers of choice scholarship recipients is likely to grow. The rally is a time for citizens of northeast Indiana to rally around school choice in a formal manner. While there have been frequent opposing views expressed here in NE IN against the program, school choice supporters and recipients have been relatively quiet. This will be a positive experience rallying supporters to be active supporters. This rally is a call to action and to thank legislators for their support of the program The rally will be supported by the area nonpublic schools association, EdChoice (formally known as Friedman Foundation), Institute for Quality Education (IQE), the FW/South Bend Diocese and TLSP. All those reading this newsletter are encouraged to attend and support the rally.  
 
SGO
Jon Dize | December 19, 2016
SGO Credits are Gone!
I hate to be the Scrooge-bearer of bad news, but the SGO credits are gone. Finished. We are out of coal for Bob Cratchit's office. For those wanting to support scholarships and receive the 50% state tax credit, you will have to wait until July 1, 2017 to make your gift. What does this mean? The Bah Humbugs: We received a number of donations late Friday, Saturday, and even Sunday (online credit/debit gifts). Since the Indiana Department of Revenue accepts SGO credit requests on a “first-come, first-get” basis, when they opened their emails this morning, they started down the list and many of these last-minute donations were too late. We will return checks and refund credit/debit card payments to these donors, strongly encouraging them to make their gift again in July. Per DOR rules, we cannot accept a gift and then hold the gift until July 1. (We hate returning gifts as much as Ebenezzer hated giving to charity.) If you have an autopay that sends us donations every month, you will need to suspend those payments until July 1. What is next? The Ghost of Christmas Futures: The Lutheran SGO of Indiana staff will continue to process non-credit gifts (matching gifts and gifts from donors not wanting the credit.) We still have two scholarship application due dates of January 15 and March 15. The 2016-17 fiscal year will be the 5th year of operations for our SGO, and we plan a few announcements to celebrate this milestone. We will be working with our School Choice partners to raise the credit amounts next and year and into the future, and may need your help convincing State House Scrooge's to free more credits for more scholarships; the more we raise, the more families we can help! We will still be available for questions (and answers!), donor presentations, etc. so keep calling and emailing. On the bright side, by going through $9.5 million in SGO credits, donors in Indiana have supported scholarships for families to attend non-public schools to the tune of $19 million. WOW. And, most of our schools raised the same or more than they did last year in less time than last year. We are therefore proud of our schools’ efforts to “get the word out” and start their fundraising efforts as early as the did. On behalf of the board of The Lutheran SGO of Indiana, Lynn, Jenny, and myself, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy, happy New Year. God bless us, every one!
 
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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