23 Dec

Lutherans Engage: Lutheran Education Under God’s Grace

New safety procedures enable Grace Chapel Lutheran School to continue providing a Christ-centered education to children in Bellefontaine Neighbors, Mo.

On a recent September day, seventh-graders at Grace Chapel Lutheran School in Bellefontaine Neighbors, Mo., studied the parts of a plant cell, while kindergarteners practiced sight words down the hall. READ MORE at engage.lcms.org

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10 Dec

LESA E-News – December 2020

Our December 2020 E-News is out!

In this month’s issue:

  • LESA Christmas CardsOrder Link
  • LESA News: 2019-20 LESA Annual Report
  • Christmas Giving: Brew in the Lou Passports – Order Link
  • School News: LESA Teachers Win Emerson Excellence Awards
  • Funding the Mission: Year End Giving Plans
  • Supporting the Mission: Amazon Smiles

Click here to read more at https://conta.cc/37PjgJD


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22 Nov

LESA Teachers Receive 2020 Emerson Excellence in Teaching Awards

Congratulations to teachers Lyn Biesendorfer, 7th Grade/Language Arts at Messiah Lutheran School  in Weldon Spring, and Ann Roth, Math teacher and Math Department Chair at Lutheran High School North, for receiving Emerson 2020 Excellence in Teaching Awards!

Mrs. Biesendorfer and Mrs. Roth were among 100 educators in the St. Louis metropolitan region selected to receive the prestigious award this year. The annual program recognizes St. Louis area instructors, selected by their schools’ administrators, for their accomplishments and dedication to their students and the teaching profession. 

Mrs. Biesendorfer, who is in her 40th year of teaching at Messiah, was nominated by her principal, Joanie Smith, for her lifelong dedication to Lutheran education.

“Lyn is passionate for students and educators all over our state and country. Recently, she mentored a first year teacher in a different school, giving freely of her lesson plans and tips on teaching novel units to middle schoolers. She even gave this new teacher several copies of a book to share with her students. She cares for the education system as a whole, not just what is going on in her own classroom. Lyn also teaches those who are interested in becoming teachers. Last fall she sat on a panel for students enrolled in Concordia’s education program.”

Mrs. Roth, who was nominated by administrators at Lutheran North, has taught Math for 27 years and serves as the school’s Math Department chair. In congratulating Mrs. Roth, Lutheran North’s students, parents, colleagues and alumni praised her for being “a very special teacher and person” who shows God’s “love and forgiveness to all you teach!” Mrs. Roth said she feels “humbled” by the recognition.   

“I have loved the opportunity to watch all my amazing students grow and learn. I am humbled by the award and thankful for the ministry of Lutheran North.”

The Excellence in Teaching Awards program began in St. Louis in 1989 and is sponsored annually by Emerson, the St. Louis-headquartered global technology and engineering company. The Excellence in Teaching Award recipients who teach grades kindergarten through high school also have the opportunity to apply for a Gold Star Grant from Emerson. These competitive grants fund educational projects that reflect the key pillars of Emerson’s identity – technology, innovation and leadership. Since 2006, Emerson has awarded $689,000 to area teachers and schools through its Gold Star Grant program. Promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is a key tenet of Emerson. 

This year, LESA was pleased to receive two nominations in the elementary school category from our 34-member schools. Lissa Williams, kindergarten teacher at Child of God Lutheran in St. Peters, was nominated by her principal, Dr. Melissa Sandfort, and her assistant principal, Brandi Hallemeier, who praised her for nurturing her students’ God-given gifts. 

“Lissa … balances unending love, kindness and patience for her students while still challenging them academically. It is obvious by watching the interactions between her and her students how much they feel loved, cared for, and confident in their academic abilities. Lissa consistently delivers instruction that is student-centered by relating to their interests and meeting their individual needs. It is evident that teaching and nurturing the development of children is her passion.”

“More than ever, in this environment affected by COVID-19, Emerson is proud to champion the critical role of teachers in guiding and shaping the lives of young people in our community,” said David J. Rabe, vice president of corporate social responsibility for Emerson. “With the Excellence in Teaching Awards, we celebrate the achievements and commitment of teachers across the St. Louis region who truly demonstrate excellence in education as they support students with their time and talents.” 

Nationwide, Emerson donated $8.3 million in 2019 to support the development and training of future generations through schools, universities and related education programs. 

About Emerson 

Emerson (NYSE: EMR), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global technology and engineering company providing innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial and residential markets. Our Automation Solutions business helps process, hybrid and discrete manufacturers maximize production, protect personnel and the environment while optimizing their energy and operating costs. Our Commercial & Residential Solutions business helps ensure human comfort and health, protect food quality and safety, advance energy efficiency and create sustainable infrastructure. For more information visit Emerson.com.

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17 Nov

LESA Scholarship Families Share Messages of Thanks

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”   James 1:17 


When you support Brew in the Lou, Cooking for Kids and our annual LESA Christmas Card fundraiser, your generosity changes the lives of children and families. That assistance is even more crucial this year, as families struggle to overcome the medical and financial fallout of the Covid-19 crisis. In September, we were blessed to send more than $505,000 in scholarship assistance checks to our member schools – our highest amount ever. (See LESA to Award Record $505,000 in Scholarships for 2020-21 School Year)

Soon after sending those checks, we began hearing from the families who benefited from those funds. Their stories and words of thanks remind us why our mission to make Lutheran education affordable for every child is needed and valued. Read on to experience the grace of their gratitude firsthand. 

“Our family was hit hard by the pandemic, losing a lot of income – so just to have that extra support really means a lot for me and my family. My son’s smile is so bright everyday going and coming from school and that makes my heart smile as a parent. Not sure if this school year would have been possible without the assistance of LESA. May God bless you and keep you.”


“I am a single mother of two. It has been a challenge financially raising my children. However, I make sure God is implemented in our household. LESA’s assistance has lifted my spirits and a huge burden off the household.”


We have had to navigate through a very difficult year. COVID impacted not only my job, but also my husband’s job this spring. The financial assistance during this unimaginable time has helped tremendously. Please pass along our sincerest thanks to the donors and to the board. Through hard times, we are blessed.” 


“We are so very grateful for the opportunity to be part of a Christ-centered school for our kids, and it is through your generous scholarship that we are able to send our kids to a Lutheran school.  Being able to worship freely at school has impacted our boys in such a great way. We thank you for what you do and pray that God’s blessings continue to flow through this scholarship program.” 


“Thank you to the committee and really to everyone surrounding the decision to assist our family with a first time LESA grant for my three children. Without the award I do not think I would be able to afford tuition as a single parent of three struggling to make ends meet. Thankfully God provides!”


“If it wasn’t for you my children wouldn’t have been able to attend school this year, because I was laid-off due to Covid 19. Our Lutheran school has made a big difference in my family’s life – my kids really enjoy their school and the staff is excellent. Thank you so much!!!”


“I want to take the time to thank LESA for assisting my family with a scholarship. Receiving the scholarship award email was like winning the lottery. I was thrilled to tell my child I could now afford for her to go where she wanted to go.”


“The tuition assistance that LESA provides is a huge blessing to all of us. The school administration, the teachers, the curriculum, and the resources provided at our Lutheran School are second to none. And especially this school-year, allowing our children to attend school in person with their classmates, has been an added blessing to all of us.”


“Just a note of gratitude for the assistance you have given to help my grandson receive a quality education. There are not enough words to express my appreciation for your help.  The Lutheran education system invests in the lives of the children with a meaningful impact that changes the way children value who they are and can be in Christ. Once again, thank you – we couldn’t have done this without you.”


“Thank you so very much for your generous gift. It was very much needed and appreciated. It made the difference in continuing a Christian education or going to a non-Christian school, which is very important to myself and my son. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity.”


“Thank you so much for the scholarship that has made it possible for our children to receive a Christ-centered education. We are incredibly grateful for your generous support.  May the Lord continue to bless your efforts to make Him known!”


“The LESA community has been a true blessing to my family. As a single mom with no extra support, this additional scholarship came out of nowhere as I was trying to make ends meet. This is definitely a hidden blessing. LESA gave me and my family hope in knowing that there are good, caring individuals out there that are willing to bless people that are definitely in need.”


“Thankfully, God provides! One of the ways that He provided for us in this situation is through LESA.  We are eternally grateful for your assistance in allowing our son to attend a Lutheran school.  We realize every day how blessed we are!”  


“Because of this scholarship, my child has access to an excellent Christian education.  Although we are living in unpredictable times, it is very important that my daughter continued to thrive in her academics. LESA has been a blessing to me and my family by offsetting the cost of full tuition, making my daughter’s tuition affordable.  Thank you again for your generous financial support.” 


“As soon as we walked in the doors of our Lutheran school, we knew this special school was the right one for our family. However, without the aid we are receiving from the LESA Scholarship, we would not be able to send both of our children to Lutheran school. We are so grateful for your donation that greatly impacts families like ours who wish to give their children not only quality education, but quality Christ-centered education.”


“I am a single-income grandmother raising grandchildren. When I walk outside the school doors and look up at the steeple on the church, I often get choked up, and I often wonder if some of the other parents even know what an eternal impact is being made on their children’s lives.  My greatest appreciation and comfort comes in knowing that my grandchildren are learning about how much Jesus loves them, what He has done for them, and how they can live their lives following Him.”  

Thank you for making Lutheran education possible for these families and so many others. Please keep us and them in your prayers and personal giving plans in the coming months as we work to support our schools, families and communities in Christ’s name. Click here to donate now. 


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15 Jul

LESA Volunteer Spotlight: Ken Horvath

LESA Volunteer Spotlight: Ken Horvath

Retired teacher Ken Horvath has been sharing his time and talents with Lutheran school students for 40 years, first as a teacher and now as a volunteer for LESA. Ken and his wife Gail are also creating a lasting legacy for Lutheran education through planned giving.

Read on to learn more about Ken’s commitment to LESA and our member schools.   

How & why do you volunteer for LESA?  

When called upon, I help sort, organize and inventory the Lego Education WeDo 2.0 and Mindstorm EV3 robotics sets after they come back from use at one of our Lutheran schools. 

I taught at Green Park Lutheran School for 30 years ending in 2010 before I took a call to serve in Vietnam at Concordia International School Hanoi before I retired in 2016.  For ten years at Green Park I helped with an after-school First Lego League robotics team.  Managing, organizing, purchasing parts and obtaining funds was part of that.  Using that experience to help LESA inventory their sets seemed like a good way to continue to help serve kids in our Lutheran schools in a small way.

(Click here for news coverage of Ken’s time at Concordia International School Hanoi.)

How did you become involved with LESA and Lutheran education? 

Both my wife and I are graduates of Concordia University Nebraska and have been Lutheran Elementary educators all our lives. Coming to St. Louis introduced us to LESA and their workshops for teachers.  My wife, Gail, served with LESA’s Educational Resources director Laura Montgomery at Abiding Savior Lutheran School. With those relationships it was easy to say “yes” to volunteer some time.  I like the saying, “Many hands make a burden light.”

Why is Lutheran education important? 

It is vital that families nurture their children with the Word of God in their homes, worship life in church, and in their formal education.  This provides continuous exposure to the work of the Holy Spirit as He brings His message of salvation.  Children are receiving the same message and values from home, church and school. Along with that and motivated by God’s love, Lutheran schools strive to provide the best possible education.  

You recently decided to support LESA through planned giving. Why? 

Yes, as part of our estate planning we have included LESA through The LCMS Foundation that will provide ongoing support. This was an easy decision to help support Lutheran schools locally so that the Gospel will continue to be proclaimed to children for generations to come. Gail and I understand the financial struggle to send children to a Lutheran school and – as Lutheran teachers – making each school dollar stretch and going without. By supporting Lutheran schools financially, we hope to ease that burden a bit, making it easier for families to decide to send their kids to a Lutheran school. 

What do you do when you’re not volunteering for LESA?

Currently we are members of Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in the Soulard area.  I enjoy helping to upkeep the grounds and do some painting around church.  Gail enjoys singing in the choir.  We help take care of our grandsons two days a week and like to travel. 

Hobbies or interests, in addition to LESA?  

Gardening, traveling, family history, science.

Favorite Scripture Quote?

1 Corinthians 1:18-25, at the moment – I guess particularly verse 25: 

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

But the whole thing is quite good especially in giving us a point of view as we teach the knowledge of men and the good news of salvation in our Lutheran schools. God’s Word comes first.

Thank you, Ken, for supporting LESA and Lutheran schools! 

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09 Jul

LESA Lutheran Schools Prepare Back-to-School Plans

LESA Lutheran Schools Prepare Back-to-School Plans

Updated 7/21/20 – As parents throughout the St. Louis area navigate changing information for schools and childcare in the age of Covid-19, LESA’s 34 member Lutheran schools are planning carefully for fall. Since LESA member schools serve a wide range of communities – from suburban to urban to rural – schools are facing different guidelines according to their locations.
Here’s a look at what some of our member schools are doing to share the blessings of Lutheran education in-person this fall.

Abiding Savior Lutheran – St. Louis County (South)
“When our interaction with our students is limited to computer screens and shortened periods of time, it interferes with our ability to invest in them at a personal level and even at the spiritual and academic levels. To that end, it is our fervent desire that we be able to open our campus to in-person schooling this fall on August 12. Guidelines and requirements from the CDC, St. Louis County Executive and Health Department will influence or determine the manner in which we deliver school, and the processes and procedures we will use.”
Megan Arnold, Director of Admissions

Child of God Lutheran – St. Charles County (St. Peters)
“The St. Charles administrators meet weekly to discuss and talk through health and safety protocols. We are all planning on opening as scheduled in August. Child of God opened June 1 for summer camp and we’ve been using it as a pilot for fall. So far so good.”
Dr. Melissa Sandfort, Principal

Christ Community Lutheran School – St. Louis County (West)
“CCLS will begin the 2020-21 school year on its four campuses August 19. We have developed a Back to School 2020-2021 Plan for reopening that provides a tiered approach with actionable steps that will be taken before students and employees return to school buildings, along with school actions that will be taken given the possibility of varied levels of community spread of COVID-19 throughout the school year. As a People-Focused school, the health and safety of our students and staff is of utmost importance. We look forward to being together in person after many months of separation.”
CCLS Charger Newsletter

Grace Chapel Lutheran – St. Louis County (North)
“At this time we are planning to start “regular” school August 24. We will be taking precautions such as taking temperatures as students/staff enter the building, streaming chapel instead of gathering, as well as not rotating classes for middle school and elective courses. We will also follow any CDC or state regulations that come up as time goes on. We are prepared to have virtual learning again if that becomes a requirement.”
Irene Desmond, Director of Admissions

Holy Cross Lutheran – Illinois (Collinsville)
“At Holy Cross, we are asking parents to fill out a survey on an in-person or remote learning platform for this fall. In the meantime, we will continue working on a Final Live Document for how our schedules might look. Then, after gathering all of the necessary information, I will meet with my staff on August 3, 2020, to develop our final plan.”
Darrin Houck, Principal

Lutheran High School South – St. Louis County (South)
“At Lutheran South, we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming our students back to campus in August. We are planning for in-person, face-to-face learning experiences that begin August 13. Our school leadership team has worked with various members of our community and public health experts to develop the plan for a return this fall, including following all of the guidelines as described in St. Louis County’s “Return to School Guidance” document, published July 7, 2020. As we continue to study the best information to ensure health and wellness, we will update this plan and our communications with honesty, clarity and transparency.”
Jonathan Butterfield, Principal 

Messiah Lutheran – St. Charles County (Weldon Spring)
“We plan on returning to full-time in-person school on August 19. We put out two surveys (Early Childhood and K-8 families) that proved to be very useful in getting our fingers on the pulse of what parents are thinking and feel comfortable with. Overwhelmingly, parents just want to see their kids back in our building with as normal a school experience as possible. As far as plans and protocol, we are creating a plan to integrate and maintain educational best practices which promote student learning as well as social, emotional, and spiritual development in the safest manner we are able.”
Cat Van Hook, Director of Admissions

St. John’s Lutheran – Jefferson County (Arnold)
“We announced to our school parents in early June that we are planning on in-person school, five days per week … and this announcement was well-received! Along with the announcement, we reminded parents that there will be some “changes” and preventive measures … yet to be determined.”
David Florine, Principal

St. John School – St. Louis County (Ellisville/West)
“St. John School’s plan shows the three possible conditions for the next school year.       Our intention is to function within the yellow tier: “Campus Open with Accommodations.” This plan shows the actionable steps that will be taken before students and employees return to school buildings, along with appropriate actions that will be taken depending on the level of COVID-19 risk. While careful consideration has gone into the creation of this plan, we recognize that this plan must provide flexibility to allow us to respond to potential changes in local health regulations. In all of this planning, we blend the best of human wisdom with an ultimate reliance on the protection of God.”
St. John School: 2020-21 School Year Re-Entry Plan

St. Paul’s Lutheran – St. Louis County (Des Peres)
“Opening St. Paul’s Lutheran School to in-person instruction on August 19 is our main priority this summer. We pledge to review all mandated and suggested policies and guidelines from the CDC, pediatricians, and St. Louis County leaders while maintaining our Lutheran heritage, our St. Paul’s identity, and family culture. We will use our best judgment, seek best practices, use good-faith measures, and create reasonable and common-sense approaches to this health pandemic in our nation and world.”
Janet Profilet, Principal

Word of Life – St. Louis City (South)
“Word of Life’s plans for re-opening for the 2020-2021 school year are the in final stages and should be ready to release to our families in the upcoming week. Our goal, as we have worked through this, is to be open for parents that would like to return to the traditional 5-day in-school model with great care given to social distancing recommendations. But we also will have an option for parents who would like to continue with remote learning. We have indicated to families that this is the plan we are working on. Technology to accomplish this has already been ordered. We are now working out details as we think all of the options need to be fully prepared and shared so that families can make the best decision. These plans continue to be fluid, as they are for any school and district, based on the severity of the spread of Covid-19. An increase high enough to recommend schools in the entire area go to distance learning (as they did last spring) would have an effect on these plans. And should the spread and concern decrease, we can then start altering the plans for less restrictions when they are possible.”
Melissa Bergholt, Principal

Zion Lutheran – Illinois (Belleville)
“We are planning in-person school with our first day of the year to be August 17. All public and non-public schools in Illinois serving Pre-K through 12th grade must follow the guidelines set forth by the Illinois State Board of Education in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Public Health. Face masks, wellness checks, social distancing as much as possible, and an increase in schoolwide cleaning and disinfecting will be part of our new daily routines. We have a task force in place that has been working diligently on reopening plans this summer, and more specific information will be given to our enrolled families in the coming weeks. We started our summer program on campus in June, so we have a lot of processes in place to keep kids safe and healthy. We look forward to having our students back in classrooms and on our campus very soon.”
Erica Stelling, Director of Admissions

Zion Lutheran – Illinois (Bethalto)
“Zion Lutheran School Bethalto is planning to open for Fall 2020 and has every intention to do so. The first day of school in our building for Kindergarten through Grade 8 students is scheduled for August 12. We are following the State of Illinois guidelines for reopening and making the necessary adaptations for our school.”
Laura Warfel, Director of Admissions

Click here to contact schools directly about enrollment or opening plans, or to find a Lutheran school near you.  And check back for updates to this story as schools finalize their plans.

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09 Jul

LESA Updates Communication Arts Curriculum

LESA Updates Communication Arts Curriculum

In June, a committee of 12 teachers from seven LESA member schools gathered at Glendale Lutheran Church (one of four CCLS Early Childhood campuses) to begin updating LESA’s Communication Arts Curriculum Guide. Their mission? To help students share their faith and the love of our Savior through Communication Arts.

The ability to read, comprehend, and construct the written word and language is essential to student success. Updating curriculum allows for continuing improvement of the educational programs offered at our schools and provides an opportunity for teachers to grow in their profession. As educators are better prepared to teach, children in prekindergarten – eighth grade are better equipped for the world in which they live and function. As a result, God’s Kingdom can flourish and His gospel can be more effectively spread to all. 

The aim of the Communication Arts Curriculum Guide is for teachers to instill in students:

  •         The ability to decode, comprehend, and process information
  •         A love of literature leading to lifelong appreciation of various genres
  •         The skills to be life-long independent readers and learners

In order to achieve these goals, the curriculum writing committee identified three major strands for instruction which include Reading, Language and Writing, and Speaking and Listening.

The committee reviews the current Missouri English Language Arts standards and Illinois standards, which are the Common Core State Standards, in formulating the LESA Communication Arts standards.   

The LESA Difference

How can our Lutheran faith be integrated into the teaching of Communication Arts?   The ultimate goal of Communication Arts is children fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), by sharing their faith and the love of our Savior with the world.  As “missionaries in training,” this includes reading and memorizing the Bible and Lutheran confessional texts and responding through written and spoken word.  As instructed in 1 Peter 3:15 (In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.), we are training students to defend their faith through written works and scripture imprinted upon their hearts.

The updated Communication Arts Curriculum guide will be shared with member schools in August.

Thank you to the LESA educators from CCLS, Abiding Savior; St. John’s, Arnold; St. John, Ellisville; Word of Life; Child of God and St. Paul’s, Troy who are taking time away from their summer vacations to carry out this important work!

To learn more about the Educational Resources LESA provides to our member schools, click here.

Laura Montgomery, Director
Educational Resources

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01 Jul

LESA Statement: Supreme Court Ruling on State Aid to Religious Schools

LESA Statement: Supreme Court Ruling on State Aid to Religious Schools

(July 1, 2020) St. Louis, MO – “The Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for families who deserve the right to choose the best educational system for their children, and for the educators in faith-based schools who are committed to preparing children for whatever their futures may hold – academically, emotionally and spiritually. On behalf of the 34-member schools and 8,300 children we serve in the greater St. Louis area, the Lutheran Elementary School Association believes this ruling will have a positive impact on educational opportunities for children and families in our community.”

Sue Nahmensen, CEO
Lutheran Elementary School Association (LESA)

Related Coverage

Supreme Court lifts ban on state aid to religious schooling
By Mark Sherman, Associated Press

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09 Jun

LESA Volunteer Spotlight: Marilyn Brickler

LESA Volunteer Spotlight: Marilyn Brickler

The heart of our LESA Ministry lies in its supporters, volunteers and caring staff, which is why Marilyn Brickler, Chair of the LESA Board of Directors, is a true gift to the students, families and schools that we serve. Marilyn’s dedication to supporting and strengthening Lutheran Christian Education reminds us why our ministry matters.

Read on to learn more about Marilyn’s servant leadership for LESA.

How did you first become involved with LESA?

This is my sixth year on the Board, and my third year as Chair. I first became involved with LESA when Kit Auble, LESA’s Director of Fund Development and Marketing, asked me to attend a LESA Fund Development meeting. Kit and I previously had chaired the Green Park Lutheran School auction, so we knew each other well. I was then asked to be a Board member, and a year later Kit asked me to chair the Fund Development Committee.

In addition to LESA, I’ve been involved in many Lutheran service organizations. I served 12 years on Green Park Lutheran School’s Board (six as chair). I then “graduated” to the Lutheran High School Association Board where I served six years (one as chair). I then went on the Board of Lutheran Family and Children’s Services (three years as chair). An interesting side note for me is that one of my sons now serves as Vice Chair of Lutheran Family and Children’s Services, and later will succeed to the position of Chair. I also have served 15 years on the Board of the Arcadia Cottage Colony Association and nine years on the Board of Lutheran Camp Association.

Most of my involvement has been with educational organizations. My degree is in elementary education through Lindenwood College. I taught kindergarten in the Bayless School District for four years. When my husband, John, joined the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, where I did some substitute teaching and our oldest son was born. We now have five sons, and, although they are all grown, elementary education is still important to me. We also have 10 grandchildren.

Why is LESA’s mission important to you?

Over the years I’ve seen Lutheran education evolve. Academically, it’s grown. The new K-8 STEM Program is so vital for kids going forward, and the schools are doing a much better job of marketing themselves. LESA has had an important part in that. LESA also plays an important role in curriculum development by reviewing every part of curriculum on a revolving basis every five years. LESA also is involved in professional development for teachers and administrators. So, basically, LESA’s mission is important to me because I feel very strongly about Lutheran Christian education. It goes back to the Bible verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.

If students get that foundational eight years of Lutheran Christian Education – where every course is taught from a Christian perspective and the love of Christ is ingrained in them – that’s just invaluable. I feel strongly about the good things happening in our schools and that LESA is supporting that in many ways.

Fundraising is important to sustain LESA’s mission. This year, because of COVID-19, LESA’s auction (its most important fundraiser) had to be virtual rather than live. That didn’t stop LESA supporters from raising a phenomenal total of $263,000. That is so important for providing scholarships. With many parents furloughed or out of work, the need for tuition support is larger than ever. The LESA Board and staff also have done a tremendous job, moving quickly to secure the Paycheck Protection Program loan to help protect the operating budget, and being proactive in arranging a short-term loan, if needed. LESA also has been blessed to receive a $50,000 Partner Stability Grant from Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, as well as an increase for scholarships in a grant from the Wayne C. Kaufmann Charitable Foundation. LESA is succeeding because God has blessed it with great people.

What is your favorite part of what you do for LESA?

I like recruiting Board and committee members. I know many dedicated people that I’ve worked with on other boards. I also like the fund development aspect of it. I am not afraid of asking – that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. (WARNING: If “Brickler” appears on your caller ID, it’s likely Marilyn “Asking”). I really enjoy the people I work with – the LESA staff, Board members and other committee members. It is personally rewarding to share time and ideas with them.

What is your personal experience with Lutheran Schools?

I grew up in St. Louis and attended Ascension Lutheran School (now Word of Life Lutheran School) through the 4th grade, and then transferred to Mount Calvary Lutheran School (now part of CCLS). I went on to Lutheran High School South.

My husband and I joined Resurrection Lutheran Church in Sappington in 1973 where we are still members. Resurrection is one of four parishes that own and operate Green Park Lutheran School, and John serves on its Board. All five of our sons went to Green Park, and, until a year or so ago, we held the record for the family with the most kids continuously enrolled there.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering for LESA?

We go to Michigan every summer, usually from the first of June until early October, where we have a summer home connected to Camp Arcadia Lutheran Summer Camp. I’ve been going there since I was three years old. It is a beautiful place of faith and fellowship, and I spend time with friends I have grown up with. We play bridge and do dinners. My other hobby is collecting recipes. I subscribe to 26 cooking magazines and I collect and catalogue recipes by veggies, meats, desserts and the like. I love to cook, especially creative everyday recipes. These last few months have been great for that. I love to experiment and to host dinner parties.

What are your hopes for the future of Lutheran Education and LESA?

I really believe it is important to involve our congregations more and to reach out to parents and grandparents who can help support LESA. We look for help with fundraising activities such as Brew in the Lou or our annual Cooking for Kids Tribute Dinner-Auction at whatever level of involvement they can do. I think many of our families don’t really realize what we all do at LESA, and I think that is an area where we can improve. We’re still kind of the new kid on the block. God has blessed LESA this year in terms of donors and large gifts, and we’ve even picked up some new donors from the online auction.

People really do value Lutheran Christian education for their children and grandchildren and I believe that they want to see it continue and thrive. For many that will require some level of financial assistance. I also believe that if a Christian foundation is laid – train up a child in the way he should go – with Lutheran education through confirmation, that will form the basis for a Christ-centered life.

Another plus is the way the academics have improved over the years, and my hope is that they will continue to improve. As we look to the future, I know that God will bless us.

Thank you Marilyn for being a blessing to LESA and our Lutheran Schools!

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04 Jun

The Lutheran Difference: LESA Co-Hosts 2020 “Virtual” LuthEdCampSTL

The Lutheran Difference: LESA Co-Hosts 2020 "Virtual" LuthEdCampSTL

LuthEdCampSTL 2020: Teachers’ turn to learn virtually

At the end of each school year, LESA teachers typically have had the chance to close out the year with a professional development event, LuthEdCampSTL. They would gather for breakfast, have a devotion, brainstorm topics for discussion, then break out into 12 or so classrooms and, over three sessions, converse in small groups covering a plethora of education-related topics and celebrate the end of the year together.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, on May 28, 2020, the learning event continued in virtual format. Members of the planning team, comprised of teachers from LESA schools, LCMS School Ministry staff, and Laura Montgomery, LESA’s Director of Educational Resources, thought it was still important to continue this year’s LuthEdCampSTL and ventured to move the event online using Zoom.

The result was an amazing online learning event in which nearly 200 educators registered. The day was expanded to a full day with five themed sessions, each session hosting fourteen online discussion rooms, for a total of 70 sessions.

“It’s been a tough spring for our teachers and we wanted to support them by giving them a chance to reflect and discuss experiences from this school year, share best practices and resources, and be thinking ahead for next school year,” said Laura Montgomery, LESA’s Director of Educational Resources

The spiritual component of the day was provided by a video devotion led by Rev. Will Hanke of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church and members of the Missouri District Churchworker Care Team were also available to address spiritual/emotional needs of the participating educators.

Based on the early survey comments from attendees, it’s clear that those efforts and the day’s events were appreciated:

“Truly, thank you for an awesome Professional Development that left me feeling energized and encouraged!”

“I always look forward to LuthEdCamp as my favorite professional development each year, and this year was as amazing as ever!!!”

“The LuthEdCamp was extremely well done! Kudos to everyone involved as it shows how a really good electronic conference can be done.”

On behalf of LESA and the LuthEdCampSTL team, thank you to all who attended. We hope to see you in person next year!

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