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Lutherans founded the first elementary school in Indiana, public or private. We’re committed to educational excellence.

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We are 17 elementary and middle schools across northeast Indiana, plus Concordia Lutheran High School. Find a Lutheran School near you.

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Faithful. Focused. For You.

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!

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Best Practices
Alicia Levitt | Dec 01, 2019
Putting the Vision in Writing
In my last article, I wrote about National Lutheran Schools Accreditation, or NLSA. One of my goals as Academic Excellence Coordinator is to help schools with Section 5 of the NLSA Self-Study, called “Teaching and Learning”. I seek ways to support our schools as they discover areas of strength and areas of desired improvement in the area of teaching and learning. In this article, I’d like to highlight the second and third required indicators of success in Section 5. The second indicator is “The written curriculum is developed and is implemented for religion, mathematics, science, reading, language arts, social studies, art, music, physical education and any other subject taught by the school.” This is a long statement that boils down to this: schools must have, in writing, a plan for what is taught in their school at all levels, in all subject areas. While this may seem simple, it is an ongoing process which requires attention to multiple areas that are ever-changing. The third indicator ties very closely with the second. It says, “The school community builds and maintains a vision, direction and focus for student learning.” Written curriculum can include many things: textbooks, online resources, teacher created materials, Scripture, and more. Most teachers today use a combination of these things to meet the standards their school has set for their course and grade level. Most of our schools begin with the Indiana Academic Standards as the starting point for those standards. While it may seem that textbooks should be written to meet all the standards in a meaningful way, that is not typically the case. Additionally, most mainstream textbooks also include their own worldview, which is often contradictory to our Biblical worldview. Textbooks can be a very useful resource, but teachers in our Lutheran schools must use them judiciously and supplement in many cases. Our schools must be more intentional with written curriculum than simply providing a list of textbooks used. That is a starting point, but what about all the other things teachers and students do? What novels are used in the classroom? What field trips supplement what happens in the classroom? How do teachers help students make faith connections to what they are learning? These things are not written in the textbook, but are essential parts of the curriculum. The Indiana District uses Atlas, an online curriculum mapping and planning tool, as a resource for teachers to organize curriculum. Many teachers no longer use traditional textbooks, but instead gather materials from a variety of sources. The standards, content, skills, assessments, resources, and more that go with each unit taught can be recorded in Atlas. Teachers can use Atlas as hub to keep all these things together in one place. Teachers can also collaborate on these maps, sharing them with others and working together to gather resources. In fact, teachers from the Lutheran Schools Partnership started developing some shared maps several years ago, and now has joined with the rest of the Indiana District to create shared maps for Social Studies. These curriculum maps are one aspect of building and maintaining a vision, direction, and focus for student learning. The maps can provide a written means to show how a school plans for education from enrollment to graduation. However, even more important is that schools have ongoing conversations about their curriculum. They should regularly revisit how they keep the written curriculum current, and how they ensure that their curriculum avoids gaps in a student’s education. Our schools and teachers can also be instrumental is helping students identify their God-given talents for use later in life. School administrators regularly monitor instructional practices and support teachers in ongoing improvement. Teachers must receive ongoing professional development, which the Lutheran Schools Partnership helps to provide. The development of written curriculum will never be finished. Needs and resources are always changing. The shared vision and direction of our schools to proclaim the Gospel and help children grow in their faith remains unchanged. Being intentional about what we do across the grade levels in all areas of teaching and learning is a critical part of the success that National Lutheran Schools Accreditation promotes.
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Christian Leadership
Mark Muehl | Sep 23, 2019
Custodians of Treasures
The Roman statesman Marcus Tullisu Cicero is quoted as saying, “Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.” I’ve heard countless times of accounts from pastors who have shared of folks with dementia or other failing memory issues the wonderful ability to recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, parts of the historical liturgy, Psalms and hymns. Why? These things were more than committed to memory but became part of who they were. It’s been shared many times of those who are jailed for their faith and how they rely on their memorized Bible verses and hymns. Those Bible verses and hymns were God’s strength and encouragement through their hardships, proof that in all cases, God gives us what we need to endure this life. It begs the question- what are your go-to passages? What hymns speak God’s peace and confidence to you? Even now, with or without major challenges in your life, how is God carrying you? As a parent, teacher, principal, board member- whomever is reading this post- what are your essential 10 (just to grab a number)? Here are a quick few of mine (in no particular order)- Romans 5:2-5- ...we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us 1 Corinthians 6:19-20- Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. Psalm 46:1- God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble Psalm 139:14- I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well 1 Corinthians 15: 57- But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. John 14:27- Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid “Abide with Me” especially vs 5 (Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes...”-https://hymnary.org/text/abide_with_me_fast_falls_the_eventide) “Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling” especially vs 4 (...Answer quickly when he calleth, Here am I send me, send me”- http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/lw318.htm) A Mighty Fortress (http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh262.htm) God’s Own Child I Gladly Say It (https://www.issuesetcarchive.org/issues_site/resource/archives/godsown.htm) Increasing the number of Bible verses and hymns will be a blessing to you so take time to remember and take time to learn. “When in the night I sleepless lie, my thoughts with heav’nly thoughts supply” (Lutheran Service Book 883, 5).
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Funding the Mission
Mark Muehl | Aug 18, 2019
Giving USA 2019 Report on 2018, Part 3: Where do We go from Here
We are last post look at the Giving USA 2019 Report. Part 1 summarized where 2018 generosity came from. Part 2 looked at where the charitable dollars went in America. So, where do we go from here? I will start with a quote from a Recent Post by Clif Christopher of Horizons Stewardship: “Financial resources are not our mission, but they are the fuel that propels the mission. Without money, there can be no mission and no ministry in these days when the faith is struggling around the world. What caused the latest decline? Some will blame the last tax law changes that significantly increased the standard deduction and thus reduced the number of people who itemize. Others will say that it just reflects that fewer people are in church and the world is more secular…” To summarize some of our findings: Over $427 billion was donated to charitable causes in America. over 85% of giving is coming from people.The stock market was in a bit of turmoil at the end of 2018 and curtailed December giving.⅔ of families give until 2008; now just over 50% give.Giving did not plummet as those opposed to the current White House occupant opined, but we need to determine if giving decline is a blip or a start.Expected changes in the tax laws may have affected decisions. Studies show that even if donors do not itemize, the possibility of loosing that itemization option could be a powerful mental block to donations. People may think they give logically, but they give emotionally a majority of the time.The recovery from the 2008 downturn is slower than expectedWhen compared to when Boomers were in their 20s, Millenials are not donating as much; either they aren’t going to church as much or have been shaped by their experiences through the Great Recession in some way.To continue that quote from Mr. Christopher: “...I do not buy into the theory that the causes are all external and thus any solution must be external. I still hold to the conviction that the solution is within the church to save the church, but we have avoided the hard work necessary to make the cultural adjustment to get it done. In the strongest possible way, I am encouraging you to re-examine how you are teaching and preaching financial stewardship. How are you moving your church away from the stewardship methods of the 20th century and responding to a new 21st century culture?” What should our Lutheran churches and schools be doing today and tomorrow: How about these: 85% of donations are still from people; engage them with your vision. How can you encourage giving from a place of joy rather than a sense of guilt?Individual giving as a percentage of disposable personal income as remained around 2%. What would happen if that changed by a percentage point? Engage with donors; get them to give stock when the market is up and consider monthly giving to minimize any market vagarities.Educate donors that giving to charity is a HORRIBLE way to save taxes! Sure, if you can itemize, a gift of $100 may only cost you $60, but you could just fold that $100 bill in half, place it in your pocket, and save $100. People give to where their hearts are. Turn them into Cheerful Givers.Donors may have created Donor Advised Funds for their charitable giving last year; try an appeal to your database of folks and remind them to give to you from those DAFs! And remember, the timing of their giving from DAFs may not fit the due dates of your light bill. Be prepared for changes in how your donations flow in.Religion and education are still the top giving destinations: take encouragement in that!The impact of high net worth donors is rising; it used to be “80-20”; 80% of the money comes from 20% of the donors. Reality is trending to 90-10. Even 95-5.How can your school or church increase your focus on gifts through estates and wills?If it is true that charitable giving is declining, and if children learn their charitable giving habits from their parents and grandparents, our churches and schools need to stop fleeing from discussions on Stewardship and support. We need to teach the joy of giving! Our futures depend on it.Create a vision to address any demographic changes happening to our congregation and enrollment sources now.Embrace technology like payroll giving, online giving, monthly/automatic giving.From Techsoup, survey your existing donors and nondonors to determine their propensity to donate given changes in the new tax law, for example.Focus your organization's fundraising efforts on diversifying giving options. Hire a fundraising staffer!Pray and Let the Holy Spirit do His work.And remember, it may still be complicated, but all we have and will have is from God. We are stewards. Let’s Catch the Lutheran Spirit, support quality, Christian education, and keep our heads up, looking forward.
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News and Events
admin | Nov 10, 2019
THE WINDOW IS OPEN!!!
A second window is now open for families to take advantage of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program. 15 of our 19 Lutheran schools are in the Indiana Choice Program. These schools provide great opportunities for families to consider for the learning needs of their kids. Interested parents can first take a look at Indiana Choice Scholarships and click “Parents/Guardians” to check out the document called “Second Period Application How to Apply” Do you wonder about eligibility? Check this link https://www.edchoice.org/school-choice/programs/indiana-choice-scholarship-program/ To check out the possibilities within one of our Lutheran Schools here in northeast Indiana, check out https://www.thelutheranschools.org/find-a-school for links to our schools and their corresponding contact information. Now more than ever, it’s time to Catch the Lutheran Spirit and encourage enrollment in Lutheran Schools!
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Quality Education
Mark Muehl | Sep 29, 2019
Are Lutheran schools worth it? YES
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”—Matthew 10:29-31 One of the first thing that the Saxon immigrants did when they settled in Perry County (Missouri) was to build a school to educate their children. While much has changed since that first Lutheran school, the need for children to be instructed in God’s Word and world has not changed. However, we live in a different era where the challenges facing the operation of Lutheran schools are great. Here are just a few examples: Recruitment and retention of qualified, Lutheran teachersRecruitment and retention of studentsRecruitment of qualified board membersFundingCurriculum developmentDeferred maintenanceMarketingUtilization of technologyParental supportCongregational supportThese are just a few of the issues that school administrators and leaders are dealing with on a daily basis. While there are many challenges, the singular reason that we operate Lutheran schools is so that every student who walks through the door will learn who Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. A Christian education is not permission for a mediocre education. Our schools are striving for excellence in all aspects of their work. The support that is provided to our schools through National Lutheran School Accreditation, the Indiana District- LCMS and The Lutheran Schools Partnership is to help our schools continue to provide an education that is both faithful to our Lutheran teaching, but also excellent in preparing young people for the future. Some may wonder if Lutheran schools are worth it. Lutheran schools can provide an education that public schools and mere private schools cannot. We are able to help every student to understand who they are as a child created in God’s image, one for whom Christ Jesus died, and what it means that the Holy Spirit calls us by name in baptism. Our Lutheran schools integrate the Christian faith into all subjects and the Gospel affects all of our relationships and discipline alike. While the financial pressures are real, we strive to practice good stewardship in light of the eternal mission of helping our students to know Jesus and that by believing in Him they may have everlasting life. Are Lutheran schools worth it? Each and every child was worth so much to God that He sent His only Son to die for them. The mission of our Lutherans schools is vital. My hope and prayer is that we will support our Lutheran schools as they begin a new school year and continue that work of making disciples for life and for eternity. Prayer - Almighty God, our heavenly Father, since You have bid that all those who are baptized be taught all that you have commanded, bless our Lutheran schools in the task of making disciples for life. As our Lutheran schools begin new academic years, enlighten those who teach and those who learn by Your Holy Spirit at work through the divine Word. May our Lutheran schools have faithful administrators, teacher and staff members as they work together for the common goal of helping children grow in Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen. (edited and shared with permission from Rev Dr Lee Hagan, Missouri District- LCMS President)
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School Choice
Alicia Levitt | Nov 03, 2019
Mark of Excellence
One of the great strengths of the schools within The Lutheran Schools Partnership is their desire to use all the gifts the Lord has given them in order to excel at what they do. One mark of excellence is accreditation. While there are multiple systems of accreditation, and some of our schools use more than one, the benchmark for excellence as a Lutheran school is National Lutheran Schools Accreditation, or NLSA. National Lutheran Schools Accreditation is an evidence-based accreditation process in which schools must submit numerous evidences in seven domains: Purpose, Relationships, Leadership, Professional Personnel, Teaching and Learning, Student Services, and Facilities. Schools undertake an extensive self-study of these areas, and then an accreditation team visits the school to review the evidence, do classroom observations, and meet with school constituents. Schools are then applauded for their strengths, affirmed in the areas of growth they have self-identified, and given additional feedback to support and strengthen their ministry. The Indiana State Board of Education recognizes NLSA as an approved third-party accreditation. Details on NLSA and its processes can be found on its website. One of the goals of The Lutheran Schools Partnership is to support our schools in their work toward National Lutheran Schools Accreditation. As the Academic Excellence Coordinator for our schools, my role is to provide particular focus on Section 5: Teaching and Learning. The heading for Section 5 says, “The school’s curriculum, instructional design, and assessment practices guide and ensure teacher effectiveness and student learning.” In my next several articles, I will share more about what this looks like in the schools of TLSP. The first required indicator of Section 5 is, “The teaching of the Christian faith is recognized as the major purpose of the school, is allotted appropriate time in the daily schedule, and is integrated intentionally throughout the curriculum and instruction.” This indicator is one of the primary things that sets NLSA apart from other accreditation systems, and is rightly placed first on the list. It affirms that a major purpose of our schools is to teach the faith. Teachers in our schools are trained to teach the faith across the curriculum, in all subject areas. One of our goals as an organization is to support ongoing training in the area of teaching the faith. When TLSP teachers come together for professional development, we worship together, pray together, and collaborate on ways in which we can point students to Jesus. We strive to choose speakers and leaders who exemplify what it is to teach the faith. For our upcoming Learn and Lead professional development in June of 2020, one of our keynote speakers will be Dr. Kim Marxhausen, an LCMS educator who will help us focus on our teaching the faith. You can learn more about Dr. Marxhausen here. On the topic of teaching the faith, this quote from Martin Luther seems as timely today as ever, “I am much afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount.” As the policies of so many organizations, including some public school systems, no longer align to Scripture, what a blessing it is to know that our Lutheran schools are intentionally teaching the true faith.
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SGO
Mark Muehl | Aug 25, 2019
SGO Results and Causes
The fiscal year has ended for the SGO program. As of June 30, donors across the Indiana supported SGO scholarships with over $21 million in donations resulting in nearly $11 million in SGO credits awarded to Indiana residents. This is a reason to celebrate! But wait, most SGO organizations are not dancing in the streets. Why? Because last fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, there were over $12 million in credits awarded to Indiana donors. Giving appeared to have gone down between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years. Indeed, our Lutheran SGO of Indiana raised about $500,000 less in donations this past year. What happened? After looking at overall giving data in America for 2018, allow me to break down what we think is some of the overall reasons for the decline in donations. See below: Perceived SGO Tax Changes. The IRS announced a change in how donors could use SGO donations as deductions on their federal taxes in August of 2018; any donation before August 27 would not see any changes, but gifts made after August 27 could be subject to these new limitations. As with any change in taxes, donors didn’t know what to do, and some withheld or lowered their donations. Couple this with the pending changes in the overall tax system that loomed starting in 2019, donors and their advisors were wary. In fact, we still are not 100% sure what can and cannot be done. One theory, therefore, is that this ruling hurt SGO giving.Bunching. To attempt to combat expected changes in the federal tax system, some donors “bunched” their year-end 2018 giving. By “bunching”, they would make a gift of double or triple the usual gift size to ensure they would be able to itemize their charitable giving on their federal taxes. But since the SGO gift for federal taxes was up in the air (see #1), those same donors utilized a Donor Advised Fund for their giving, not the SGO program. This is another reason suggested for the decline.The Stock Market. A third option cited is that not only do an increasing number of donors use appreciated stock and mutual funds to fulfill their charitable donations, but stock gains are used as their personal economic health. The stock market was in decline in December of 2018, and those donors who make their charitable decisions in December may have lowered or halted their gifts. Lack of Urgency. Another theory that I like is a lack of urgency this year. Indiana legislators authorize a set amount of credits every year. Once those credits are out, there are no more donations allowed until the following July 1 when the fiscal year starts over. In the fiscal year 2014-15, the state ran out of credits in early June. We only had to wait a few weeks for the credits to be back. And in FY 2015-16, the credits ran out in February. But then in FY2016-17, the credits ran out in December! With over 6 months of demand for SGO credits unfilled until the start of FY 2017-18, we experienced a “donation deluge” in July of 2018 as donors who normally would have donated between January and June raced to make their SGO gifts in July before they ran out again. These actions most likely boosted our total giving in 2017-18 beyond the norm of what it would have been if we hadn’t run out of credits, and therefore causing a lower comparison in dollars raised between the two years. Its a Blip. The other possibility is that there is just no “usual” in the Indiana SGO world. Especially since every SGO organization appears to be affected evenly. There are just too many factors that can affect our results since the SGO year spans two ½ calendar years. All we can do is promote the benefits to our donors and make it as convenient as possible to support scholarships with online giving, monthly auto giving, gifts of stock, gifts of grain, Paypal, and now we added ApplePay to the mix. At least that is how we see things. What additional ideas would you add to these 5? Contact me at info@lutheransgo.org.