Year-end review

Lutheran schools are great places to grow. Nonetheless, as all schools, Lutheran schools aren’t perfect—although we continually strive to be. Lutheran schools, however, are distinctive in that students learn they are forgiven in Christ and they also can forgive others.Yes, we do thank God for great test scores. And we thank God for teachers, parents, administrators, boards, and congregations that continue to strive for excellence to serve our God, who gave us our gifts and talents and the ability to serve our fellow man.Join us in our continued efforts to ensure that our schools serve our students and their families by offering strong academics that foster skills for the future and by nurturing a passion for our Lord that will hold fast to the world. We continue to strive in three areas that will help us achieve our goals.Are our schools preparing students for 1990 or for 2025? It’s a probing question. Statistics demonstrate again and again how well our Lutheran schools help students grow academically. Ninety-six percent of our third-graders passed IRead-3 this past spring. Sixty-nine percent of our state-accredited TLSP schools received A’s (65 percent of nonpublic schools statewide received A’s; 37 percent for public schools). But we also know the world is changing, and with that change will come changes in the classroom.Recently, a leading educator commented that the kindergarten class of 2012–13 will be graduating from college and be in the workforce in 2030. That may seem like an eternity from now, but the reality is here.Lutheran schools must lead in our changing world. While our mission to teach about Jesus doesn’t change, and the message is always relevant, the strong academic standards that also make up our schools must be reviewed for their excellence and proven to be relevant. Our schools must lead so our graduates will be able to lead. That’s a big responsibility that can’t be neglected. The world is growing smaller, and it’s important to help our children realize the opportunity they have to be witnesses in it. They’ll need to be digitally literate, as well as proficient in all traditional subject matter. All who are part of Lutheran schools must embrace our mission to share Christ and to provide impact on our world through strong schools.Cindy McKinney, our academic excellence coordinator, will continue to work with TLSP schools in technology integration, curriculum mapping, and other professional-development opportunities.During its three years of existence, The Lutheran Schools Partnership (TLSP) has made strong efforts to ensure that everyone has an awareness of The Lutheran Schools. With the skills and talents of The Nichols Company, The Lutheran Schools have been seen and heard in television and radio ads, on billboards, and on the Internet. News of our schools has been highlighted by area media, and social media opportunities have been utilized. TLSP has also provided assistance in the public relations efforts of individual schools through open house support, website changes, and admissions counselors support.More has been done, and more will be done. The expected outcome of this activity is enrollment growth and more kids hearing about Jesus. The results at this point? Two consecutive years of enrollment growth for The Lutheran Schools in northeast Indiana.The third major service provided by TLSP is addressing advancement to enhance the fundraising abilities of its member schools. While the first two major efforts relate to growing enrollment and enhancing the quality of the academic offerings, advancement will help ensure the long-term viability of the partnership schools by strengthening their outside funding (i.e., funding from sources other than congregational support, tuition, and tuition discounting).The ultimate goal of advancement is to improve the “resource engine” of our partnership schools so that they can improve their financial security and sustainability.Through the direction of Jon Dize, TLSP’s advancement coordinator, we have a menu of programs that can assist schools in securing financial resources beyond tuition and congregational support. This includes encouraging use of The Lutheran Foundation’s Endowment Services, operating an annual fund, setting up a database, and hosting special events. During the 2011–12 school year, TLSP schools raised nearly $1.5 million.TLSP has also led the efforts for schools in using the state’s Choice Scholarship Program (vouchers) and scholarship granting organizations (SGOs). In fact, TLSP has helped form a new SGO, The Lutheran SGO of Indiana, to help capitalize on this unique program. (See www.lutheransgo.org.)Yes, 2012 was a good year for The Lutheran Schools—a second consecutive year of enrollment growth, an increased awareness of our schools, and our students continue to excel. And we thank God for giving us the abilities we need to do even better in the coming years.