The Power of Relationships

Posted on Apr 28, 2016 by Mark Muehl - Christian Leadership

Concordia Lutheran School Emphasizes ‘Relationships Over Rules’Relationships matter at Concordia Lutheran School. Just ask fourth grade teacher Rich Schwantz. In his 25 years of teaching, he estimates he’s visited the homes of 400 students.“I am super old fashioned. Rich says. “I’m still that guy that gets in the car and visits every home of my students. It’s amazing to learn how pivotal it is to develop relationships with parents and children. It’s beneficial in so many ways.”One student, who was new and formerly attended public school, was skeptical Mr. Schwantz would visit his family at home.
“I got there late and knocked on the door. Dad opened the door and said, ‘Teach, you came! You came!’ He couldn’t believe I kept my word. I was able to give CLS instant credibility,” Rich adds. “This is my way of letting them know that I will visit them on their turf, on their terms. It also lets the parents know I’m there and I’m willing to serve them throughout the year.”Home visits are one way that Mr. Schwantz builds a supportive network between parents and teachers at Concordia Lutheran School. It opens the door to better communication between teachers and parents and lets the students know how much the school cares.Sara Goeglein, a third grade teacher, has experienced that same care and support firsthand at Concordia Lutheran School. In October, her young son was at a routine doctor’s appointment when theyfound a heart murmur. He was taken to the hospital for further testing where they discovered a hole in the valve ofhis heart. The whole CLS community rallied in support.“The staff was so supportive. Each morning we have devotions together and pray. It was so nice knowing that I had a community of believers helping my family through this situation. They provided meals for my family when he had surgery.The kids would include him in the prayers in class and parents emailed to ask how he was doing. I don’t know how we would have made it without their support.”
The CLS community cares for their families and staff, working hard to provide a great education while also encouraging a supportive network.“You don’t know how much people are there to help, until you need help,” Mrs. Goeglein adds. “It made me realize I want to know my families. I tell [them], ‘Let me know what’s happening, so I can pray.’”By focusing on relationships over rules, teachers, staff and parents create a compassionate school environment for students. Because of the Christ-centered focus, staff can pray with students and families, supporting their needs spiritually, physically, and emotionally.“I hope as a school we use communication that Christ has created in us—a love that can only come through him. Genuine care, love, empathy,” Mr. Schwantz says. “Many of us are parents too. We understand our wants and needs for our children. We wear our hearts on our sleeve.”Mrs. Goeglein adds, “I’ve never been anywhere where I’ve seen people so close. You all have to be on the same page.”It’s this commitment to relationships, whether working with parents or other teachers that unites the school into a caring community.
“It starts with teachers, support staff and Lori Stout [admission counselor] at the door.” Mr. Schwantz says. “It’s building that bridge. It starts with that attitude of ‘We’re here to serve and what do you need?’”By fostering close relationships through home visits, prayer, and close relationships, Concordia Lutheran School creates a caring community that supports its families and staff, even after students have graduated.“I still have students from my very first year teaching and I still check in with them,” Mrs. Goeglein adds. “I have two kids at home, but I have 22 others. Those relationships are built in your classroom.”