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Welcome to a new ShapingtheFuture feature—iWhy. LEA members tell why they became Lutheran school educators—something we started at the 2016 convocation. Student members of LEA may find these pages especially interesting, but I’m sure all our members can relate to some of what you’ll read here in the next several issues. If you want to share an iWhy, send the story of how you became a Lutheran school teacher to ed.grube@lea.org with the subject line iWhy. (Try to keep it to 600 words or so, if you can.)—the editor

iWhyWhy I Became a Lutheran School Educator

 

You Wait; God Is Going to Call You!

lacey hooglandI grew up K–8 at Lutheran school and wanted to go to Concordia, St. Paul for years. As I entered my junior year at CSP, I actually dropped out of the Lutheran teacher program and remember distinctly when my adviser, Dr. George Guidera, told me, "You wait; God is going to call you to a Lutheran school." I told him if that happened, so be it. I graduated, took a job at a non-denominational school for two years, worked as a consultant for five years, and then started at Black Hills Lutheran School. The words of Dr. Guidera came right back to me, and when I told him where I was working, he said, "I told you so."

I love working in a Lutheran school because we want all students to come to us no matter their church affiliation or non-affiliation, and that to me is what makes Lutheran schools great! We are different from the non-denominationals in this matter, and it makes us stronger and makes our Gospel reach greater! Praise God for our Lutheran schools.

 

Through Many Twists and Turns

I love being around students and learning and growing with them. (I did a lot of growing, especially in those first several years, and still am.)My path to the education ministry meandered quite a bit. My parents were teachers, and as a young child, I experienced how taxing and rewarding teaching can be. I learned it so well that I decided I would never become a teacher myself. At the end of my high school experience, I was enrolled in a pre-med program, but God began tugging at my heart, pulling me into the ministry.

At the time, I believed that ministry to be the pastoral ministry, and I enrolled in a pre-seminary program. Following the advice of my mother, I adopted an education minor, “because much of what a pastor does is teaching.” In the middle of my sophomore year, I transferred from Concordia, River Forest, to Concordia, Nebraska, and was forced to choose between continuing with a pre-seminary program and an education program. Since most of my coursework aligned more closely with an elementary education major, I chose to continue in education, graduate on time, and just know I would still go to the seminary. Eventually.

As a young parent, providing for my family was a paramount concern, so my wife, Allison, and I sought calls to St. Louis so that we could establish ourselves, and I could eventually have a smooth transition to attending the seminary while she would continue teaching. However, being in the classroom and ministering to children and families was really a good fit for me, and the longer I did it, the more confident I became that God, through many twists and turns, had led me into the correct ministry. I love being around students and learning and growing with them. (I did a lot of growing, especially in those first several years, and still am.) I love seeing students experience the joy of learning, and I love being able to witness to them and be edified by their demonstrations of unquestioning faith.

Seven years ago, I began serving as a principal. I am blessed to impact the lives of many more children as I lead, but I do miss having my own class. I make up for it by visiting classrooms every day to see the awesome ministry of the stellar teachers God has placed in the schools in which I have served—and I still make it out to recess a few times each week!

Remembering her first day

I soon was pleased to realize that a teacher could do many things with 17 students that one could not do with 25 or 30 bodies.“Do we have to write in cursive?” was the first question I was asked as I began teaching fifth grade at Trinity Lutheran School in Portland, Oregon. My answer was, “What did you do in fourth grade?” “We got to write in manuscript,” was the response. I had no idea what that child was talking about!

It was then that I knew I had a lot to learn in this first year of teaching in 1973! I had always referred to marks on paper as either printing or writing. I had never heard the terms manuscript or cursive. I quickly realized what the child meant, thankfully.

So began, my first year of teaching, with 17 fifth graders. What a wonderful experience it was! We learned and grew together. I soon was pleased to realize that a teacher could do many things with 17 students that one could not do with 25 or 30 bodies.

I continued to teach at Trinity, Portland, my entire career. My class sizes ranged from 17 in my first year to 33 a number of years later, which included one of my own sons. The staff with whom I taught and worked was the binding force for my life. We all learned and grew together too. My principals served as mentors, for which I am eternally grateful.

As I reflect on my long career in Lutheran education, I realize that what I provided for my students in terms of learning was many times over repaid by them. I grew as a person, as an educator, and as a forgiven child of God. Thank you, my dear students!