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WELS teachers meet around the country

Annual District Teachers’ Conferences are an opportunity for WELS early childhood teachers and directors, Lutheran elementary school teachers, and high school teachers to enjoy learning opportunities, networking, and fellowship. Three conferences have already taken place. Conferences will continue this week in the Pacific Northwest, South Atlantic, and Minnesota Districts, Oct. 18-20.

The Michigan District Teachers’ Conference was held Oct. 4-6 at Trinity in Bay City, Mich. Psalm 46 was the focus of both the opening worship and the Bible study for all attendees. Prof. Paul Koelpin from Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., addressed the conference with a presentation on “The Blessings and Challenges of Teaching ‘Lutheran’ in the 21st Century.” Rev. Brian Keller presented a paper on the Evangelical Heritage Version Bible, the translation being worked on through the Wartburg Project. Conference attendees had an opportunity to attend a number of sectionals on topics that included early childhood ministry, technology, leadership, science, and others.

The South Central District met at Calvary Lutheran School in Dallas, Tex. Oct. 5-6. Several of the South Central District schools had students who were victims of Hurricane Harvey. With that in mind, Anita Smith, from Christian Family Solutions, presented a workshop called “Supporting Students Dealing with Trauma.”

The Nebraska and Dakota-Montana District Teachers’ Conference met at St. Paul’s, Rapid City, S.D., Oct. 8-10. They met under the theme “A Reformation of the Heart.” Devotions for the conference focused attendees on grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone, and Christ alone. The religious keynote presented by Rev. Nathaniel Biebert was entitled, “Your Baby Boy and His Names: Martin Luther on Isaiah 9:6.” The educational keynote was presented by Todd Whitaker and was based on one of his books “What Great Teachers Do Differently.” Sectional topics ranged from special education, accreditation, Google classroom, music, supervision of instruction, disruptive behaviors, burnout prevention, language arts, New Teacher Induction, and conflict resolution.

The Commission on Lutheran Schools associate director, Mr. Tom Plitzuweit, says, “District teacher conferences serve as a great avenue for teachers to continue learning and developing professionally and spiritually. At conferences, teachers connect with other teachers. They learn from each other’s experiences and share ideas. What is special about our WELS conferences is that they give us more opportunities to learn with and learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ, many of whom share similar ministry experiences. It is a blessing to lift each other up and grow spiritually and professionally. Not only does attending conferences benefit us as teachers, but it is also a tremendous blessing to our schools and to all the precious souls we have the privilege of serving.”

 

 

 

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Cultivating future school leaders

Participants in the Commission on Lutheran Schools’ (CLS) Apprenticeship Mentoring and Principal program met at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, Waukesha, Wis., June 20-22, to expand and hone their school leadership skills and repertoire.

About two dozen WELS educators attended between the principal and director apprentices and the leadership candidates. The apprentices are teachers who graduated from the WELS college of ministry, Martin Luther College (MLC) in New Ulm, Minn., within the last two years. As apprentices, they are getting additional training and mentoring having been assigned by the Assignment Committee as principals and early childhood directors. The leadership candidates are more seasoned teachers who have demonstrated the gifts for school leadership positions and participate in the leadership program to prepare for future principal roles.

The attendees participated in a module on school culture and climate presented by Cindi Holman, WELS Early Childhood Ministry national coordinator, and her husband, Mr. Jim Holman, director of Education at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Mr. James Otto, a principal apprentice serving at St. Matthew, Stoddard, Wis., says the value of attending the training extends beyond what they learn in sessions. He says, “The primary reason for being here isn’t just to learn but to connect with the other principal and director apprentices.”

The leadership candidates went through a book study on growth mindset and fixed mindset and how to continue developing their leadership gifts, along with the practical aspects of becoming a principal by getting credentials from MLC.

Mrs. Linda Baumann, a third and fourth grade teacher at Trinity, Jenera, Ohio, has been teaching for 22 years and serves as a mentor to teachers new in the field. She says, “It is valuable to go through the process of ministry development planning to help teachers of all levels of experience improve their instruction for the benefit of the students they serve.”

CLS Associate Director Mr. Tom Plitzuweit says the program started to help meet the need for WELS principals in the schools. “There are people out there who have the gifts, and sometimes they need a little bit of encouragement to get into the principalship, and we know that strong schools need strong leaders. The challenge is finding these individuals and encouraging them to use their gifts for positions of leadership in their schools,” he says. CLS Director Mr. Jim Rademan will address the synod in convention this August on the critical need for well-trained school leaders.

In addition to leadership training, CLS also has an active and nationally recognized accreditation process called WELSSA. In June, Plitzuweit was elected as the vice president of the National Council for Private School Accreditation (NCPSA). This is a two-year term, which will be followed by a two-year term serving as president of NCPSA. As part of the NCPSA, any WELS school accredited through WELSSA can receive state, regional, and national accreditation as an educational institution.

 

 

 

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