Rebecca Lindenberg, MS Ed

Lindenberg2As a language arts instructor in the upper grades at St. John-Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, Becky Gohr Lindenberg’s days are always interesting. “I tell my students I have the best job in the whole school, because my assignments aren’t just math problems and multiple choice questions. Every time I assign a paper or essay, I get to read and learn from 60 different individuals who have 60 different ideas and experiences.”

Becky also has a pleasure not every teacher can enjoy: teaching a content-area curriculum she designed herself from the ground up. It’s a fifth grade spelling curriculum she created while a student in the MLC master’s program.

“Writing curriculum has always been really fun for me,” she says. “One of my favorite parts of teaching is the lesson planning. I enjoy researching different ways to reach individual children. I enjoy finding activities and assignments that meet all of the students’ interests and abilities. I love matching my curriculum to the state standards.”

With that love of curriculum driving her, Becky began looking for the right master’s program immediately after graduating from MLC in 2003. Four years later, she found it—back at MLC. “I loved the idea that my classes would be centered on Christ,” she says. “And I absolutely loved my professors while attending the undergraduate program. I always felt like they genuinely cared about my future and took my education as seriously as I did.”

She admits she was a little concerned about the workload. “The demands of a called worker can be very intense,” she says. But she found the MLC professors to be flexible whenever students’ ministries or family lives got stressful. “I cannot tell you how much their sensitivity was appreciated,” she says.

Becky also appreciated the professors’ feedback—“always so thought-provoking and kind”—and the interaction with fellow students. “They were colleagues who had the same struggles, the same kinds of students, and the same issues in their schools,” she says. “I feel like I have my very own network of educators who have shaped who I am as a teacher. And now they’re lifelong friends as well.” Finally, she liked the relevance of the coursework. “I cannot tell you how many times I was excited to go to school so I could try an idea or technique that I had just learned in class.”

She began the program in August 2007 and graduated last May with a diploma and an original curriculum in hand. In fact, that grade 5 curriculum she designed evolved into a grade 5-8 spelling program that is proving very effective for St. John’s students. “It’s very neat,” she says, “when you get to see a project you’ve poured your heart into be so successful.”

Becky Lindenberg

Hometown: Menomonee Falls

High school: Kettle Moraine LHS 1999

College: MLC 2003, elementary education with music emphasis

Teaching career/ministry: Director and teacher at KinderCare Learning Center-Minneapolis (2003-2006); K-2 teacher and athletic director at Crown of Life-Hubertus WI (2006-2009); and upper grade spelling, composition, and forensics teacher at St. John-Wauwatosa WI (2009-present)

Family: Married to Erik, a financial representative for the John Hancock Financial Network; two boys—Joe (8) and Jack (6)

Hobbies: “Cheer on our sports teams, watch the Packers, coach cheerleading, and drink coffee! The best part of living in Milwaukee is being surrounded by friends and family.”

Something special: “I am an accomplished flautist, having played for 22 years. I have studied at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and under the direction of professional flute players. I frequently play flute in church as well as perform in free concerts to the general public.”

Favorites: homemade pizza, Jen Lancaster books, Harry Potter books, The Help, Pirates of the Caribbean, daffodils and tulips, Green Bay Packers, the TV program Parenthood, the song “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz

Written by Laurie Gauger

Jeffrey Loberger, MS Ed

lobergerJeff Loberger (MLC 2003, MLC MS 2012) believes that good schools begin with good leaders.

As a leader at Good Shepherd-Omaha, he wears a number of leadership hats, but, interestingly, not one of them says “Classroom Teacher.”

“I spend my day as principal of our school, development director of our building program, and member ministry director of our congregation,” he explains.

It’s an unconventional, forward-thinking calling that Jeff’s congregation has given him, but then again, Good Shepherd-Omaha is a forward-thinking congregation. And God has certainly blessed their efforts. In Jeff’s first two years there, the school has grown from 68 to 101 students. When some other WELS schools are closing due to low enrollments, Good Shepherd is turning students away due to lack of space—thus, the vision for the addition of classroom and office space, along with updated bathrooms, additional parking, and, further down the road, a new sanctuary.

“We are praying this building project will help us to add more families in our school and church family, thus exposing many more to this wonderful peace we have through God’s Word,” Jeff says.

To accommodate the growth, the faculty of five teachers, which, in 2008, many thought might need to be reduced to four, has now grown to 7.5.

As one of the 7-1/2 teachers, Jeff has the most varied daily schedule. “Every day is different,” he says. “There are days where I am down at city hall filling out documents for waivers and applications for leased parking. The next day, I will be working with various members, discussing gifts and amending wills to give a gift to our building program. The next will be handling discipline of a child or observing one of our classrooms. Sometimes, I get a little of all three of these during the day.”

With so many avenues for leadership, it was important to Jeff that he become the best leader he could be. “If I could learn to become a better leader and visionary for my school, this would greatly benefit the children attending our school. Also, I would hopefully be a better resource for my faculty to come to in times of need. Finally, with greater vision and climate in the school, we would become more of an option for our community families when they look to enroll in quality schools.”

In 2008, while he was serving in Salt Lake City, the desire to be a better leader led him to begin his master’s coursework with a leadership emphasis. He notes that the WELSSA accreditation process and the encouragement of the Salt Lake City congregation were catalysts as well. He will finish the program in 2012 or, if he completes a second emphasis, in 2013.

He says the program has made a dramatic impact: “This program has completely changed who I am and how I operate. I have been a principal for eight years. Since enrolling in this program, I have learned so many practical things to help with time management to classroom observation to curriculum mapping to handling issues with families. These benefits are seen by my wife, who has been by my side the whole way through. She can see the confidence in my way of running and handling school issues.”

Jeff began his ministry as an emergency teacher at Nebraska Lutheran High School (2001-2002). He taught at Immanuel-Hadar NE (2003-2006) and Prince of Peace-Salt Lake City (2006-2008) before being called to Good Shepherd. In his spare time, he enjoys playing men’s league basketball, camping, watching a good comedy, reading nonfiction books about World War II, and spending time with his wife and children.

He humbly admits that he has the gift of gab—and lots of opportunities to use that gift in his many leadership roles. “God has given me the ability to talk! I have no problem talking to anyone, anywhere about our school and church. I get to talk with community families, sharing with them the opportunities they could have attending a parochial school where Jesus is the center of everything we do. I get to help people understand the blessing of giving to church (particularly the building program) and the opportunities this giving will have on our ministry of being able to reach many more people who need to hear the Word. I get the privilege of helping current members find something they want to do to help grow the ministry. I get to see the smiles on their faces during times where they now feel part of what we do here.”

Finally, Jeff notes that leadership is tied to ministry. And ministry is ultimately about souls. “Everyone who is privileged to serve in the public ministry is in it for the souls we serve each day. As we serve, we need to remember we can best serve if we keep up with the changes in standards and techniques that are unique to each generation. As we continue to improve in our methods and strategies as teachers, we will ultimately be improving the output of the children and families we serve.”

And of the many blessings God has bestowed on Good Shepherd-Omaha, Jeff humbly says, “It makes me realize that the Lord can use someone like myself for the benefit of his kingdom. ”

(Article written by Laurie Gauger)

Timothy Mueller, MS Ed

Tim Mueller - PictureServing to the Best of His Ability

Like most WELS principals, Tim Mueller (MLC BS ’06, MSEd ’11) is a busy man. But he feels privileged – overjoyed, in fact – to be so. “My joy is in serving my God to the fullest of my abilities out of thanks and praise for all that has been done for me,” he says.

His day at Star of Bethlehem in New Berlin, Wisconsin, starts early: “Up before the sun, a cup of coffee, me and my inbox,” he says. “Then I begin the school day in God’s Word with my faculty. I greet students and parents with a smile, handshake, or fist bump. I get into God’s Word with my upper graders and just talk about life as Christians in this world. I communicate with the secretaries and enter the office for all things principal.”

The afternoon is spent with students: lunch, recess, math, and English class; and after school he talks with faculty and staff. “I say my faculty and staff because I love them much; they are near and dear to me,” he says.

More office time follows: “emails, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings with any and all stake holders of the school.” Then it’s home briefly for supper and play time with his boys, and back to school to meet with school and church committees—lay people also busy serving the Lord. And finally, he says, “I end the day with my dear wife, without whom my service to the church would not be possible.”

Yes, a busy day, but every conversation, every effort, it seems, is laced with love and joy. “My joy,” he says, “is in knowing there is nothing I have to do, because it has all been done for me. And what’s more, I am given the privilege of telling this to others. Each day I get to tell our Savior’s little lambs about how much Jesus loves them. Each day I get to sit around a table with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and as a team, go and tell the good news of Jesus’ love. And, even more, we get to collaborate and offer an outstanding education as we prepare our students for this life and for eternity. Does it get better?”

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In a way, Tim’s choice to enter a master’s program was inevitable. “Growing up,” he says, “my father always told me I could be a garbage man, McDonald’s worker, teacher, pastor, or anything I wanted, as long as I used my abilities to their absolute fullest to give glory to our God.” As he began teaching, he realized how much he didn’t know. To use his abilities to the fullest, he says, “I knew I needed to keep learning.”

Many master’s programs were available, online and right in La Crosse, Wisconsin, but Tim knew it had to be MLC. “I went into teaching to teach kids about the love of Jesus. I wanted to know how specifically to do that. I knew that at MLC I would learn practical knowledge based in best practices, and it would be centered on the love of Jesus. At MLC I’d learn from experts as instructors and with extremely knowledgeable individuals as peers.”

While Tim was working on his program from 2007 to 2011, he was principal at St. John-Sparta, Wisconsin. “My dear St. John in Sparta took great ownership in helping me financially with master’s program costs,” he says. “They gave freely that I might learn how to serve them and their children to the fullest of my ability. I then took a call to New Berlin. It may be easy to think they’d have negative feelings over the fact that they supported the learning financially and then I went to serve in another location. However, I’m confident that they know it’s not just about the ministry in Sparta, but rather our Lord’s ministry everywhere. I pray that we all, across the United States, might share this perspective.”

Principal Mueller urges other teachers to consider pursuing their master’s degrees, remembering their high calling as Christ’s ambassadors. “Let us ‘use whatever gift [we have] received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in various forms.’ May the love of our Savior and our God’s grace motivate us to continue growing in our faith and in our abilities serving in our various callings – not because we have to, but purely out of love and thankfulness for all that has been done for us.”

Tim is quick to encapsulate the goal of further education: it’s the goal of ministry itself. “It’s all about love,” he says. “Jesus loved us so much he died to save us. It’s as simple as that: faith like a child. Now we go and serve. We serve to the fullest of our abilities out of glory and thanks to him.

“The graduate program at MLC helped me do this. It helped me expand the knowledge and improve the skills God has given me, which he allows me to use daily as I teach his little lambs about this love. Thank you, MLC. Thank you, Lord. To God be the glory.”

Tim Mueller at a Glance
Family: Wife, Megan, and two sons, Timothy III (2) and William (5 weeks)

Hobbies: Being outdoors, golfing, playing with the kids, having a glass of wine with his wife

Media: Books on leadership, communication, teambuilding, and faith; the music his middle school students listen to; kids’ movies (for his sons) and chick flicks (for his wife)

Biographical tidbit: Teaching is his second career. Before MLC, he first earned degrees in business administration and management and worked in resort management.

(Article written by Laurie Gauger)

Kurt Rosenbaum, MS Ed

rosenbaumprocess-closeBS 1984 DMLC

MS 2011 MLC

In 2009, after 25 years of elementary school administration, Kurt Rosenbaum was called to a different kind of ministry: principal of Arizona Lutheran Academy. Fortunately, the change did not interrupt his pursuit of his master’s degree through MLC. And he was pleased to find that the skills and competencies he gained from his coursework in the leadership emphasis transferred seamlessly from a K-8 school to a 9-12 school and from a single-parish ministry to a federation of parishes.

After his graduation in 1984, Kurt served as a principal at three different elementary schools: Good Shepherd – Burnsville MN (1984-1993), King of Kings – Maitland FL (1993-1999), and Ascension – Sarasota FL (1999-2009). “For 25 years,” he says, “I had the pure joy of serving in a parish ministry. I loved the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of the congregation’s ministry and the intimate person-to-person interactions that it provided.”

An accreditation team visiting Sarasota told Kurt’s congregation it was essential that he pursue his master’s degree. The congregation agreed. “So I began with their blessing and encouragement, and the rest is history,” he says.

Kurt had actually started his master’s twice before, but the demands of ministry had made it impossible to finish. MLC’s program was a different story. “I liked the online approach for its flexibility. That was probably the main reason I could finish it.”

A move from Florida to Arizona is no small thing, but Kurt was able to continue working on the master’s program. “I love the fact that the work applied so directly to my ministry and that my classmates were like-minded in their backgrounds and ministries. The fact that the instructors were able to relate quickly to our special needs and our unique ministries was a big plus. I’ve taken some graduate courses at other institutions, and I admit that having some ‘outside of the WELS’ paradigms and approaches has great value too, but when it comes right down to it, I think this program offered much more in my ministry. I feel that the instructors made great efforts in keeping our classes pertinent and current.”

He finished his program at Christmas during his second year at Arizona Lutheran Academy. “I have been extremely pleased with the coursework and applications and how easily these things transferred from my LES ministry to the ALHS world. My degree has allowed me to enter a new world of ministry (LES to ALHS) feeling more competent than I would ever have felt otherwise.”

On a personal note, Kurt has eclectic tastes. He loves travel and has visited all 50 states. He likes gardening, landscaping, reading, cooking, baking, and playing and watching tennis. A social studies concentrate back in 1984, he continues to enjoy history and calls himself a bit of a political junkie, especially in an election year like this one. When not tuned to political talk shows, his radio plays swing, Christian contemporary, or Broadway. And church music has always played a big role in his ministry.

When he retires, he may look into a bed-and-breakfast, maybe in a place like Virginia where he could also offer his services as a historical tour guide.

But for right now, he says, “I’m living my career dream! Since first grade I’ve never wavered on being a teacher as a career, and I’ve enjoyed my years immensely. This is coupled with the fact that I always desired to play a role in missions and in ministerial education, and I’ve been blessed to serve on governing boards of three of our ministerial education schools as well as the Board for Ministerial Education, and I served about eight years as school counselor in Antigua. I’m humbled by both experiences.”

To those who may be on the fence about pursuing their master’s degree, Kurt offers his encouragement: “I waited until I was in the ministry 25 years to complete my program. I now wish I would’ve completed it earlier for the benefits I’ve received. I would encourage others to jump at it to gain the maximum benefit. I would encourage congregations and calling bodies to make it possible—both in time and in finances—for called workers to continue their education and pursue advanced degrees. It’s essential for our treasured WELS school system to remain current and our teachers to be experts in the arena in which we serve. I consider it a privilege to have served now for 28 years in this kind of work, where God’s Word and people meet.”

(Article written by Laurie Gauger)

Jenny Johnson, MS Ed

Schopper, JenniferJenny Johnson Schopper MLC ’98,’14 took a path familiar to many women who graduated from D/MLC. After teaching a few years, she got married, started a family, and resigned from teaching to stay home with her young children. A few years later, when the time was right, she wanted to make herself available again for full-time ministry, which necessitated taking three credits to renew her certification.

That’s where Jenny’s love for God and children, as well as her love for learning itself, rose to the forefront and asked the question: Why just take three isolated credits? Why not make them count toward something bigger? Why not learn more about the science of education so I can better serve children?

With those thoughts in mind, Jenny decided to pursue her master’s degree at MLC. Her choice of emphasis – special education – has a rich and personal history of its own. “My oldest daughter, Corynn, was my inspiration,” she says. “She has difficulty in school. She was very late in talking, and for quite a while, she was extremely difficult to understand out of context. She is now diagnosed with ADHD (the inattentive type), an expressive speech and language disability, and dyslexia.

“She struggled to simply learn her letters and sounds,” Jenny continues. “This made reading extremely challenging, and I didn’t know how to help her. The school she attended was unable to help her either, so I decided to home-school her, praying that the individual attention would help. I was nervous, so I took every special education class MLC offered.

“My first class was probably my favorite: Diagnosis and Remediation of Reading Difficulties. We were supposed to do a case study on a student and set up a plan for helping them read. I used Corynn as my student. It was invaluable finding out exactly where she was at and figuring out ways to help her.”

When Jenny was halfway through her master’s program, she was called to teach grades 3 and 4 at Loving Shepherd-Milwaukee. With the tools and confidence she received from her master’s courses, she became a resource not only for Corynn, who was in her classroom for two years, but for all the students with learning challenges. Especially helpful, she says, were Cognitive Psychology, Behavioral and Emotional Disabilities, Human Exceptionalities in the Classroom, Communication Disabilities, Diagnosis and Assessment of Students with Special Needs, and Teaching Children with Learning Disabilities.

“When my daughter was young, I could tell that she didn’t learn the same way as other students, but I couldn’t explain it,” she says. “Now, I can talk with medical professionals and representatives from the public school system and explain exactly what I’m seeing. I can also talk with the parents and doctors of other students in similar circumstances. I’m able to share my experiences and offer suggestions.”

Jenny admits that initially she had some worries about going back to school. Would a rigorous course of study fit into an already busy life? Could she manage the workload? While online courses are flexible and convenient, would the technology be too much for her? Would she even remember what she had learned about education as an undergrad?

“I need not have been so worried,” she says now. “The classes were very manageable, and the professors were extremely supportive, flexible, and understanding. Moodle was also easy to use. And the program made me remember how much I love school and learning. I looked forward to each class’s beginning!”

Although Jenny entered the program as an individual and a home-schooling teacher, she finished it as a full-time teacher at Loving Shepherd, a school where people value continuing education. They urge all their teachers to pursue it, and they also help fund it.

“Education has greatly changed since I finished my bachelor’s degree, and it continues to change,” she says. “It’s important that teachers stay current on the research behind the many different educational theories as well as the technology available to aid the lessons being taught in the classroom. When teachers further their education, they show a commitment to life-long learning and are a wonderful example for their students. MLC provides an online program that makes it convenient for participants to do their work at a time that works in their schedule. The technology is not intimidating. I appreciated the fact that the classes are taught by instructors who understand what it’s like to teach in WELS classrooms and the issues that WELS teachers face. Finally, every class is taught from the perspective of God’s Word.”

And that emphasis – on the Word of God and the ministry of the gospel – is what makes MLC’s program truly special.

Meet Jenny Schopper

Education: MLC ’98: BS-Education (STEP Parish Music), MLC ’14 MS-Education

Family: Husband Curt Schopper and daughters Corynn 12, Kyra 10, Kirsten 7

Ministry: Grade 3-4 teacher, organist, junior choir director, and senior choir accompanist at Loving Shepherd-Milwaukee

Hobbies: Hiking, biking, swimming, water-skiing, playing volleyball, and reading (favorites: The Lord of the Ring series, theHarry Potter series, and the Divergent series)

If only there were more time: She’d travel more

A small but important fact: Schopper is pronounced with a long /O/.


Written by Laurie Gauger DMLC ’87

Minori Yamaki, MS Ed

Minori Yamaki MS

Minori Yamaki      Preschool Director St. Matthew-Niles ILMinori Yamaki (MLC 2002, MLC MS 2011) feels that her MS is making her even more of a professional in her unique ministry setting – a Lutheran Japanese preschool in the Chicago area.

Ms. Yamaki was assigned as a kindergarten/ preschool teacher for St. Matthew, Niles, Illinois, when she graduated in 2002. But in 2006 her role was changed to the director and teacher at St. Matthew’s Japanese Preschool. “This includes promoting my school to Japanese families in the greater Chicago area,” she explains. “It is a great honor to reach out to these families with the gospel. I also coordinate community events with the local Japanese families. Finally, I teach the 5- and 6-year-old students in the Japanese program.”

Minori’s day is very busy. “It starts with a faculty Bible study,” she says, “and continues with welcoming the students and their families to school. Once the students arrive, everything is done in Japanese: the Bible study, the guided play, the ongoing learning, and everything else too! After school, I meet with the families again before making notes in the parent’s language about the student’s progress during the day. Finally, I update our website so that Japanese relatives living far away can see the students’ daily growth too.”

Minori loves the connections she makes with her students and their families. “I get very emotional when my graduated students show up at school with their old grade cards in their hands,” she says. “They still feel they have a place to come back home to.” These relationships are especially valuable because she deeply misses her own family back in Japan.

She also notes another distinct joy: “Since most of the families I’m serving aren’t Christian, they look up to me for my faith. I’ve been invited into homes and asked to lead the table prayer—moments like these are humbling opportunities to share Him with the whole family!” She shares the gospel with some urgency because many of the families are only in this country for a limited time due to business.

Although Minori is very busy, she still finds time to take pictures, listen to music (Simon and Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin), go thrift shopping, socialize with her friends, and read Japanese novels. “I can’t remember the last book I read in English,” she says. “Maybe To Kill a Mockingbird. I am a big fan of Atticus.”

Her interest and expertise in education for Japanese children has expanded into other areas as well. “I write articles about school and children for a midwestern Japanese newspaper and a monthly magazine. I also teach traditional Okinawan dance to a local group of Japanese children between the ages of 3 and 8.”

Her busy schedule did not deter Minori from pursuing her master’s degree, with a leadership emphasis, at MLC.

“I wanted to be a professional,” she says. “To me, to be professional is a verb—it is to keep moving forward, to continue seeking to be the best one can be. Being involved in the master’s program has definitely helped me as a professional as I work with families, lead the Japanese program, and work with the Illinois Department of Child and Family Service. I also have a much greater appreciation for how to make a healthy school culture at St. Matthew’s.

“I still feel uncomfortable with calling myself a ‘professional’ educator,” she adds, “so I keep trying to improve.”