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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 | Jan 19, 2020
All Smiles? Why not?
While this photo doesn’t include Jenny and Lynn or the gang at BIG, I’m sure their smiles would also be present as we consider the joy of working together even as we face the challenges in front of us. As this new year is well underway, it comes with opportunities. Opportunities in terms of relationships with school boards. Opportunities happening at the state legislative level. Opportunities to share the value of a Lutheran education. Opportunities to garner new support for our work with TLSP. However, there is no doubt that as the leader of this TLSP endeavor, I’m most thankful and aware of the opportunities God has given in allowing us to work together for the good of Lutheran schools. It’s not an accident that Jon in his knowledge and experience with fundraising is leading the efforts of our scholarship granting organization (LutheranSGO.org) and our new efforts to raise money for TLSP. It’s not an accident that as schools are challenged with an almost overwhelming amount of data, programs and social change that Alicia is guiding, informing and gathering our school leaders into opportunities to wrestle together to determine answers and courses of action. Jenny and Lynn? They keep us looking good with their eyes for details and their strong work ethic. It’s a joy to work as a team. It’s amazing how often these words from Paul ring in my head as I think of our TLSP staff- “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:3-5) While your prayers for our school ministries and TLSP are treasured, you will soon be asked to consider a new opportunity of support. Stay tuned!
 
Funding the Mission
Jon Dize | Feb 09, 2020
The Sweet Spot & Aging Congregations
As I work with the 19 schools in Northeast Indiana, I will often call myself the “Cheerful Giver Evangelist.” Recently, I have added emphasis on the “Sweet Spot.” According to the annual Giving USA Research:Top area of donor support is Religion (Lutherans…)Education is second (this area includes K-12 schools…) Couple these points with the following: Christianity has a tradition of giving (there are many Biblical passages on philanthropy…)Churches already promote the current holy grail of fundraising research: periodic, automatic giving (churches pass the plate every week…) Lately, I have been adding this consideration- many LCMS congregations are aging. Wait, how is that a positive? Refer back to my post last week [insert link to last post]- regardless of the validity of those numbers cited, if our congregations are aging, there is no better time than now to grow estate giving efforts. And thanks to a matching grant challenge from The Lutheran Foundation, by remembering our 19 partner schools in Northeast Indiana in your estate plans and choosing to benefit their endowment funds, your gift can live on forever. I suppose it is all perspective. I turn 50 this year. Aging can be bad. But when looking at the future, aging may be a very good thing to recognize and address now with your donors and members. How you talk with them about fulfilling their Cheerful Giver goals, that is, where their hearts are, will be a key part of success. If you don’t start the conversation now, I guarantee some other nonprofit will...
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News and Events
Mark Muehl | Feb 16, 2020
Be a VIP!
Introducing The Lutheran Schools Partnership’s first ever fundraising event, Very Important Partnerships (VIP). As a reader of this post, you are one of our VIPs as you value Lutheran education and follow the activities of TLSP. As a VIP, we enjoy your support through prayers, interest in TLSP and by attending TLSP activities. We are challenging our VIPs to even greater support this year. Recognizing 10 years of service to our 19 schools, we are hosting what we expect to be an annual signature event. This year’s theme is "Boldly & Without Fear" and will feature the inspiring message of the Rev Dr Greg Seltz. Rev. Seltz served for years as Speaker for the Lutheran Hour. Now as executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, Rev. Seltz is practicing what he will preach- being bold in confession and partnering with others who value religious freedom. Also as part of the night, we will award the first ever TLESPY recognizing our region’s Lutheran educator of the year. This event will occur at the International Ballroom, on the campus of Purdue Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN on Thursday, April 16, 2020 from 5:30-9:30 PM Tickets are $100 with a variety of ways for individuals and corporations to provide sponsorship. Contact Mark Muehl (markm@tlspartnership.org) or Jon Dize (jond@tlspartnership.org) with your interest in supporting this event.
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Quality Education
Alicia Levitt | Jan 12, 2020
NLSA 5:05 - Instructional Strategies
As I have written about National Lutheran Schools Accreditation (NLSA) Section 5, “Teaching and Learning,” I have tried to demonstrate that the process of accreditation is a rigorous one, with a focus on excellence for our schools. Schools undergoing the process of NLSA must examine their practices and provide evidence showing that they are focused on best practices in teaching that lead to learning for all students. The fifth required indicator of this section is, “Teachers use a wide variety of instructional strategies that engage students and ensure mastery of learning expectations.” While this statement isn’t long, it is full of meaning. The first part, “using a wide variety of instructional strategies,” indicates that teachers should be informed about best practices in teaching, be willing to try new strategies, and make new plans when the strategies they are using are not leading to the desired levels of success. Student engagement has become an educational buzzword. Edglossary.org defines student engagement as, “the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.” Generally, the term is used to indicate the involvement, attention, and investment students make in their own education. Certainly, teachers play a large role in engaging students in the classroom, and providing content that leads to high levels of student engagement. Research has shown that four things most frequently lead to high levels of student engagement by meeting important student needs: success (the need for mastery), curiosity (the need for understanding), originality (the need for self-expression), and relationships (the need for involvement with others). Teachers seek to help their students meet these needs, and NLSA visiting teams seek evidence that teachers are doing so. NLSA recognizes and places such high importance on relationships that there is an entire section of the accreditation process dedicated to it. Mastery of learning expectations is the final piece to this required indicator for which evidence is needed. How are teachers working toward all students mastering the standards set for the class? Teachers in our Lutheran schools strive not to only teach the content, but to teach the student. An accreditation visiting team looks for evidence that teachers are assessing students in a variety of ways throughout the learning process, seeking feedback about student progress, student needs, and the effectiveness of their own teaching methods. While each student is an individual that will attain mastery at a different pace, the goal should be that teachers strive to support all students as they progress toward ultimate mastery. It is exciting to serve on a National Lutheran Schools Accreditation visiting team, and there is always a great deal of learning on behalf of the team members. As students are observed, the visiting team sees new ways their colleagues are working toward this indicator-using a wide variety of instructional strategies, engaging students, and ensuring mastery of learning expectations. This can seem like a huge and overwhelming task at times, but with the Lord’s help, the teachers and students in our Lutheran schools are making it happen!
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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.