A Strong Principal for Every School

The 21st Century Lutheran Principal Initiative

The 2017 Principal Cohort with mentors and CLS staff: (front) Lowell Holtz (mentor), Charles Galecki ’15, Nathan Schultz ’05, Brett Bengel ’07, Justin Krause ’09,’18, Kyle Seim ’11; (back) Ben Washburn ’97 (mentor), Tom Plitzuweit ’97, ’16 (CLS associate director), Dave Schroeder DMLC ’93 (mentor), Jim Rademan DMLC ’82 (CLS director), Philip Gustafson ’09, ’16

Goal: Every WELS school will have a strong principal— with the training and experience needed to manage today’s complex educational environment, with adequate time for all duties, and with a compensation rate commensurate with the demands of the call.

Problem: WELS loses 25 principals a year, only six of those to retirement. Others go back to classroom teaching or leave the ministry altogether. Those who leave cite insufficient time, training, and compensation as the main reasons. Those same insufficiencies also hinder recruitment of new principals.

Proposed solution: The 21st Century Lutheran Principal Initiative was approved by the WELS 2017 Convention (resolution 14-2) to meet all these needs, thereby strengthening schools and increasing student learning. Dr. John Meyer DMLC ’87, MLC director of graduate studies and continuing education, explains: “The 21st Century Lutheran Principal Initiative is a plan to stop the attrition and give principals the tools they need to be successful. We want to recruit and fully prepare experienced teachers prior to calling them to principal position —positions that will provide sufficient administrative time and compensation.

“This is a radical departure from the historical approach to Lutheran school leadership, where we called teachers with little training to the principalship. We even assigned new graduates to teacher-principal positons. With scant training and experience, these graduates, often the most promising teachers, burned out. From 2012-2016, for example, 30% of the 31 principal assignees left ministry completely.”

The 21st Century Lutheran Principal Initiative addresses these concerns with three key components:

  1. Only proven teachers with at least three years of
    experience will be recruited to the principalship.
  2. These candidates will be fully trained before being
    called to a principal position.
  3. These candidates can be called only by schools that
    provide at least the synod-adopted minimums for
    administrative time and compensation.

The training (#2 above) is a program developed jointly by the WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools and Martin Luther College. It involves three years of leadership experiences and the completion of MLC’s MS-Educational Administration. Annual cohorts of 15 people will be recruited. Two cohorts have already begun.

Scholarships: Because graduate studies tuition may be an impediment, we’re seeking a quarter million dollars in scholarship funding to incentivize experienced teacher leaders to join the principal cohorts.

“The 21st Century Lutheran Principal Initiative creates a new WELS organizational paradigm for leadership recruitment and preparation,” says Dr. Meyer. “We ask God to bless our efforts to prepare strong leaders for WELS schools, that we may even more effectively educate our children, nurture our families, and share the good news of life in Jesus Christ.”

Interested? Contact Dr. John Meyer at meyerjd@mlc-wels.edu.

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

Lindemann Named All-UMAC

Junior Alison Lindemann (Luther Prep / St. John-Lewiston MN, pictured) became the first player in MLC women’s golf program history to earn All-UMAC honors this fall. Lindemann earned the honor after taking seventh place at the UMAC Women’s Golf Championships with a three-day score of 278 strokes. She started that tournament with a round of 98 in tough conditions, but came right back to tie for the lowest round-two score at the event (87) before closing the tournament with a 93 on the final day.

Lindemann recorded a strong fall season, finishing sixth in the conference with an average score of 92.9 strokes in 11 rounds of competition. She tied for first place at the UMAC Preview event on September 6, and also took home individual medalist honors at the UNW Invite on September 25 with a career-best round of 86.

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

Luther Interpretive Trail & Environmental Site

Established by a Faculty Initiative Grant requested by Professor Steve Thiesfeldt in 2006, Luther Interpretive Trail & Environmental Site (LITES) is a seven-acre plot adjacent to Flandrau State Park that has been patiently developed to serve as an outdoor classroom for environmental science students.

Ongoing improvement of the site includes removing invasive species, reestablishing native prairie flora, creating an interpretive trail with markers noting points of natural interest, building a pavilion/shelter with benches for classes, and beginning the collection of data: vegetation, animal life, soil conditions, temperature and moisture, and so on. MLC Grounds Supervisor Tim Rambow oversees all physical improvements to the property. Professor Thiesfeldt envisions that every MLC student will visit LITES at least once during a required science course. Science education majors might use the site in many different ways. Visitors from elementary and high schools could also participate in outdoor activities on the site.

“Ultimately,” he says, “the project will emphasize the wise stewardship of resources entrusted to us by our gracious God. Students will enhance their knowledge of the natural world and learn to appreciate the delicate balance required to sustain life on this planet.”

Professor Dan Fenske has already utilized LITES with his biology students to do tree, bird call, and animal-track
identification. He also plans to do a study of the invertebrates in the pond. “And no,” he adds, “there have been no Bigfoot sightings so far.”

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

To The Ends Of The Earth – Serving Abroad Right Now

About two dozen 2018 graduates are now teaching abroad for a year or more. Some were assigned to congregations, and some opted to teach in conjunction with a WELS mission abroad.

In the last 10 years, 145 graduates have opted for international service in 13 countries and have made their mark on the world—and on people’s hearts with the gospel.

They’ve come back enriched and renewed—with minds and hearts more open to all kinds of people and with spirits even more responsive to a world hungry for the Word.


Santiago Botero (Bogotá, Colombia) to Metro Los Angeles: evangelist (one-year assignment)
Tassia-Channel Clement (Corinthe Estate, Gros Islet, St Lucia) to Grace LSGrand Anse, Grenada: teacher mentor
Eric Dorn (Crete IL) to St John LS-St John’s, Antigua & Barbuda: gr 3 (one-year assignment)
Aimee Duncan (Mechanicville NY) to St John LS-St John’s, Antigua & Barbuda: gr 5 (reassigned second year)
Josiah Nommensen (Cudahy WI) to Grace LS-Grand Anse, Grenada: gr TBD (one-year assignment)
Elise Rosenbaum (St Joseph MI) to St John LS-St John’s, Antigua & Barbuda: gr 1 (one-year assignment)


Sarah Couture (Ottawa, Ontario) to Dominican Republic
Madeline Helwig (Mequon WI) to Southeast Asia
Samuel Helwig (Richfield WI) to Southeast Asia
Sarah Kell (Zumbrota MN) to Southeast Asia
Caleb King (Lomira WI) to Chile
Caroline Madson (Acworth GA) to Dominican Republic
Erich Osterman (Milwaukee) to Southeast Asia
Zachary Satorius (Annandale VA) to Peru
Mikala Schmitz (Fort Atkinson WI) to Dominican Republic
Morgan Schnose (Dearborn MI) to Southeast Asia
Michael Schoenfeld (Lake Mills WI) to Southeast Asia
Sarah Schoenfeld (Fort Atkinson WI) to Southeast Asia
Laura Schoenherr (New Ulm MN) to Southeast Asia
Kylah Schroeder (Modesto CA) to Southeast Asia
Ethan Schultz (Waukesha WI) to Southeast Asia
Justin Steinke (San Antonio TX) to Southeast Asia
Jason Zweifel (Lake Mills WI) to Ecuador

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

SAMS Gift Recognized

At his retirement dinner April 15, 1999, MLC Professor of Music Ames Anderson closed his remarks to the faculty with these words: “As I leave the college, I would like to share one dream that I have for this place. Could we find monies for a college artist series with perhaps three offerings per year? Our students deserve to hear string quartets, lieder programs, woodwind quartets, chamber orchestras, and the like every year. How can we develop acquaintance and understanding with the classics without the opportunity to hear great music live?”

Because of his foresight and initiative, this dream is now a reality. The Summit Avenue Music Series (SAMS) is presenting programs of the highest professional and artistic caliber and has earned a loyal and responsive following among students and the community. We thank Mrs. Ruth Anderson for a gift of $15,000 toward future seasons in honor of her husband. She pledges her continued support of SAMS.

For information on upcoming SAMS concerts, please visit summitavenuemusic.com

Performers from the September 16, 2018 concert entitled “Brahmsfest” with Peter McGuire (violin), Richard Belcher (cello) and Bethel Balge (piano).

What’s all the Buzz About?

By Julia Schibbelhut ’21 (St. Paul-Onalaska WI)

A buzz swept the hallways as mysterious boxes were hauled in from LITES (the Luther Interpretive Trail & Environmental Site). Inside each case, frames filled with honeycomb oozed golden honey. The Ecology class, taught by Professor Greg Diersen ’96, spent their lab period processing the first harvest of MLC honey and marveling at the role of bees in Creation. The MLC grounds keeper Tim Rambow is also the MLC beekeeper. He set up the hives and assisted with the harvest.

“I never expected to have this experience,” says Emmalie Olsen (Good Shepherd-West Bend WI). “Everyone got really into it. We had so much fun!”

First, students scraped off the waxy layer that capped the honey-filled cubbies.

Pictured from left: Sofia Spiegelberg (Trinity-Castries St. Lucia), Moriah Poehlman (St. John-Maribel WI), Emmalie Olsen, Noah Arnold (St. Paul-Oconto Falls WI)

Next, students spun the frames to force honey out of the combs and collect it in a tub.

Pictured: Nathan Curtis (Faith-Sharpsburg GA), Luke Willems (Bethany-Fort Atkinson WI)

Finally, students filled honey bear after honey bear with the freshest honey they’d ever tasted. In all, 144 bottles and several extra quart jars comprised this year’s harvest. The honey was dispersed among MLC honey fans, and the wax was saved for another science project to come.

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

We’re fairly certain Dr. Seuss wasn’t thinking of MLC students when he wrote his 1990 children’s book, but with students like fifth-year senior Zack Scharlemann (St. Paul-New Ulm MN), the sentiment fits.

As a member of the College Choir and the Wind Symphony, Zack has gone on nine full tours and about a dozen weekend tours. He estimates he’s traveled to 25 states plus Canada, played or sang at 111 schools and congregations, and stayed overnight with 60 host families. The tours have put 25,000 miles on his voice and his percussion equipment. It’s been hard work and great fun—and amazing preparation for his future service as a musician and teacher at your congregation or school one day.

This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.

13th Annual Thalassa Prize

Martin Luther College has now begun accepting submissions for the 13th annual Thalassa Prize. This
$1000 prize is awarded to the best photo-and-essay submission from an MLC student or graduate who has served in an international ministry.

PAST WINNERS: mlc-wels.edu/thalassa

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: mlc-wels.edu/thalassa

DEADLINE: April 30, 2019

MLC Day 2019

Promote and celebrate ministerial education by hosting an MLC Day in your congregation!

MLC Day is a day to . . .

  • PRAY for our mission and ministry
  • SHARE our story
  • GIVE to support ministerial training

Help us celebrate at MLC too! Anytime between now and May 1:

  • Photograph your school, class, or faculty creating an MLC greeting.
  • Videotape an MLC shout-out, song, or skit.
  • Write a prayer for our students and staff.
  • Share all of these with us by email or Facebook!
  • Gather an offering for your College of Ministry. Your gifts on MLC Day will help fund the Congregational Partner Grant Matching Fund, directly supporting MLC students!
  • Find more ideas at mlcday.com!

On MLC Day, May 1, we’ll have a grand unveiling of all the schools’ and congregations’ prayers, posts, shout-outs, and songs!

26th Annual Golf Classic

Ninety-three golfers teed off at noon on June 11 to support Martin Luther College. The winning foursome on the New Ulm Country Club course (pictured) were Joey Schugel (formerly of New Ulm Park and Recreation), Matt Pearson ’97 (MLC professor), Jeff Anderson (SouthPoint Credit Union, New Ulm), and Toby Freier (New Ulm Medical Center).

This community event raised $31,685 for campus improvements and student scholarships, raising the 26-year total to $838,134. Thank you to all our friends and supporters in New Ulm!


This feature was originally published in the MLC InFocus, Fall 2018 issue.