National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA) encourages and recognizes Lutheran schools that provide quality Christian education and engage in continuous improvement. NLSA facilitates Lutheran schools in evaluating their academic quality and the spiritual dimension of the school. Academic quality is determined by the school doing a rigorous self-study in which the school measures itself against nearly two hundred standards covering all phases of a school’s operation. A team of educators from other schools visit the school to validate the self-study and create a report that includes the school’s strengths and also areas for improvement. All TLSP schools are accredited with NLSA.
This year, for the first time, the visiting teams were asked to observe the pastor’s relationship with the school and consider if he should be nominated for The School Shepherd Award. In an interview for the Reporter online, Terry Schmidt, director of LCMS School Ministry explains, “The new School Shepherd Award–which will be given annually–’honors a faithful pastor who provides outstanding encouragement, support, and service to his school.”
Eleven LCMS pastors across the country were nominated for this year’s inaugural award. “All are considered champions for their schools,” Schmidt says, because they “go beyond in supporting and caring for the school, its workers, and the whole school community.”
Two of the elven pastors nominated for The School Shepherd Award are in The Lutheran Schools Partnership: Rev. John Stube serving Ascension Lutheran School and Rev. Thomas Eggold, serving Emmanuel-St. Michael (ESM) Lutheran School.
Ascension Lutheran School is in 18th academic year, and Pastor Stube has been there since the beginning. He helped start the school and served as the first principal. Mary Eifert, principal of Ascension, offered, “Pastor Stube feels strongly that the ministry of the congregation is the school; our school is an arm of the church.” That belief is evident in Pastor Stube’s daily involvement in the school. He leads chapel, which meets four times a week, and teaches 7th-8th grade confirmation. “We are honored he was chosen for this award,” Eifert said, “Pastor definitely exemplifies the qualification of a School Shepherd.”
Northeast Indiana’s second nomination, Pastor Eggold, is no stranger to the ministry at Emmanuel-St. Michael. He has served Emmanuel as the senior pastor for ten years, and before that, served as associate pastor. With a background as an English teacher at Concordia Lutheran High School, Pastor Eggold carries an understanding and knowledge as to the value of Christian education. Pastor Eggold is involved in the school by way of teaching religion class to 7th-8th grades, and leading devotions and Bible study for the faculty and staff. Jacob Pennekamp, principal at ESM, appreciates Pastor Eggold’s gift for “appropriately responding to the spiritual needs of families. Pastor is a generous leader with the way he cares for his people, and a great listener when it comes to concerns for our faculty.” The relationship between pastor and principal is vital to the health of the school, and Pennekamp adds he is extremely grateful for the team ministry he shares with Pastor. “I cannot overstate that having a partner in ministry in Pastor Eggold is something I value most here at ESM.”
May God continue to strengthen the relationship between church and school. May He bless our Lutheran Schools with many men like Pastor Stube and Pastor Eggold as we all work to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ together.