Lutheran North Middle & High School

Located in unincorporated North St. Louis, lies the successful and diverse Lutheran North Middle and High School. With an enrollment of almost 270, this private Lutheran school works hard to keep pushing for academic excellence while balancing accommodations for COVID-19. Dr. Tim Brackman, principal for Lutheran North, explains the many different aspects that have been incorporated, “North has a large percentage of families that want to be in the school building and a large percentage of families that aren’t comfortable for their children to be in the building. So we have an all virtual option, where students can never come in the building, then a two day option [with classes divided alphabetically]...we have a four day option too, where they can be in the building most of the time.”

The flexibility of meeting families where they feel safe during COVID-19 owes much of its success to its faculty and staff adapting to many changes. In addition to physical safety measures, such as mask wearing, air cleaners, and temperature and wellness checks, Dr. Brackman notes that there were many small changes in regards to teaching and scheduling in the first semester, and that it’s an ongoing process. The school has developed extra support for hybrid learning, such as starting an earlier dismissal so that students behind on work have the opportunity to check in with teachers daily. Also Wednesdays are virtual learning days at Lutheran North, with classes taught virtually in the morning. The afternoon is a time for students to connect with teachers for additional help. This also allows teachers to develop their material for a variety of classrooms. “That’s been probably the largest challenge,” says Brackman of having students at many different levels of hybrid learning, “Just trying to adequately teach your group in front of you that you see everyday (or almost every day), your group that you’re going to see once or twice–but not the next couple of days, and then the group at home who are not in the building, but still part of the class.”

The school is not just diverse by the different styles of hybrid learning, though, it is a very racially and socially-economically diverse school. Dr. Brackman describes the school neighborhood “...we are a more diverse school. Traditionally our Lutheran schools have been kind of white, German-Lutheran in heritage, and so forth. That’s not necessarily the picture here, as many of our communities have changed, and the schools have opened their doors to people from the community. ...but so often I feel that we limit our definition of diversity to black and white–especially in St. Louis–to black and white. And we’re so much more than that. Social-economically, we’re really diverse. From a Lutheran standpoint, we’re probably about 30-35% Lutheran. So there’s a lot of diverse Christianity here with Baptist, and non-denominational, and Methodists, and Lutherans, and so forth, not to mention the racial and ethnic, which, of course, we are really excited about too.”