It was easy for Ginger Oestreich (Morning Star-Jackson WI) to list a dozen reasons why she and her husband, Mark, have hosted MLC student teachers.
“Being able to see what the Lord was doing with these kids and knowing some lucky classroom was going to receive one of them is probably the best reason,” she says.
Over the last five years, Mark and Ginger (pictured, center, with their family) have hosted nine student teachers, eight women and one man. The college students stay in the bedrooms her older boys used to sleep in, and since she makes suppers every night anyway, the student teachers make an easy addition to the family.
“I like to discuss their day with them at night,” she says. “We can sometimes answer questions or listen as they work out difficulties. The result is growing friendships that last a lifetime. We’ve been invited to weddings. We get pictures of babies. We even receive plain ‘how are you doing?’ notes. It’s like we have a large extended family all over the US.”
Professor Paul Tess DMLC ’77, MLC director of clinical experiences, is deeply grateful to families like the Oestreichs who host student teachers. “Giving student teachers a comfortable place to stay helps them put forth the best effort in the classroom,” he says.
About 100 MLC student teachers need housing every year, primarily near Wisconsin cities with an abundance of WELS schools—like Milwaukee, La Crosse, Watertown, and Appleton—but also near area Lutheran high schools in outlying districts. The teaching semester is 10 weeks, and MLC offers up to $790 in reimbursement for room and board, although many families donate some or all of that money back to the college.
The only requirements are a private bedroom for sleeping and studying, bathroom access, internet access, a parking spot for their car, and simple meals. Some families are fairly involved in their student teachers’ lives, and some are more hands-off, just offering a relaxing place to eat, study, and rest.
Hosting called workers and workers-in-training is a ministr y of hospitality with a rich scriptural histor y. We all remember Lydia, the seller of purple, who said to the apostle Paul very simply, “Come into my house and stay.” Professor Tess hopes that even more WELS families will participate in this tradition, joining families like the Oestreichs and saying to MLC student teachers: “Come into our house and stay.”
Would you like to learn more about hosting a student teacher in your home? Contact your school principal or Professor Paul Tess at email@example.com.
This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.