Leading Schools, Reaching Families: 2019 Administrators’ Conference

The isolation that comes with being an administrator isn’t a challenge everyone knows about, but it means administrators can’t easily compare ideas and experiences freely with people in similar roles. There’s no sitting with a colleague at lunch or after a long day. It begs the question, who leads the leaders?

Leading a school isn’t easy. There’s enrollment, fundraising, recruiting and retaining teachers, curriculum and much more—all while working towards the goal of sharing Christ with children and families.

Alan Freeman, Assistant to the President for Schools, says,

“Studies tell us that leadership is second only to the classroom teacher in impacting student learning and growth. Not only are school leaders impactful on student learning, but they are also the key element to the sustainability of Lutheran schools. School leaders set the vision, goals, and direction of the school through strategic planning and ensure its longevity by financial planning.”

To support administrators, the Missouri District organized a two-day conference for school administrators, hosted by Campus Lutheran Church. Beverly Gruenwald, Director of St. Pauls Early Childhood Center in Des Peres, says she really appreciates the Missouri District’s emphasis on supporting administrators. At events like this, “the people you meet are from all over the state, but we still will bump into them throughout the year. We really can build relationships with other directors and treasure these professional relationships.”

Diana Meers, the Principal at Immanuel Lutheran High School in St. Charles, says it can be hard to lead the school so that it grows and innovates. She explains that many schools have stakeholders who are more traditional in their ideas of what a Lutheran school looks and feels like.

Meers says, “Our theology doesn’t change. Christ doesn’t change. But in previous times, most of our students came from our congregations and that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Many of our students are unchurched and their parents enroll them for the arts, music, technology—for the programming. Once we get them in the door, then we can preach Jesus to them.” Meers says that helping to stay up to date with new approaches in education is critical to continuing to get students in Lutheran Schools.

Meers says that conferences like this one make it possible for administrators to help each other in their quest to keep their schools growing and improving.

This month, administrators from all levels—from early childhood to high school—attended the conference organized by the Missouri District. Gruenwald says, “It’s really great they include the early childhood directors with the principals, there’s a lot of learning they can do alongside each other.”

In her 25 years serving in the Missouri District, Gruenwald says these conferences are a blessing, because “administrators don’t have a peer group in their school.”

To learn more about how the Missouri District can support educational ministries, contact Alan Freeman at alan.freeman@mo.lcms.org or (314) 590-6209.

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