From Where I Sit

Aug 8th, 2019 | Category: Columns, Here I sit
By Shirley Morgenthaler

From Striving to Thriving

Be the best you can be. Just do it! Good, better best. Never let it rest. Till to good is better, and the better, best.

We have all heard these and other slogans about excellence. How do we attain excellence? How do we know when we have arrived at excellence? Those of us who teach know that excellence is a moving target and that we never stop working toward it.

This issue looks at excellence. It also has a subscript of survival. Most of us know that the heyday of parochial education is history. We are now in a struggle to keep alive this great concept and to help it thrive. This issue reports on a unique collaboration between Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation (CLEF) and the Center for Literacy (CFL) of Concordia University Chicago.

For more than 25 years, CLEF has implemented its mission to support urban Lutheran Schools in Chicago. Over the years, it has also come to support struggling schools in the collar communities of metropolitan Chicago. In her column that follows this one, Dara Soljaga gives you a glimpse of each of the articles to follow in this issue of LEJ. The partnership between CLEF and CFL is due in no small part to the leadership and creative determination of Janet Klotz, current Executive Director of the CLEF board and Dara, the Director of CFL.

In Issue 2 of LEJ Volume 155, we examined the changing landscape, issues and priorities of a Lutheran university, this university. In this issue, Issue 3, Volume 155, we take a close look at a segment of the population for which we, CUC, have been preparing and praying since 1864. The Lutheran schools of metropolitan Chicago are a microcosm of the Lutheran schools nationally and internationally. Some of these schools are thriving. Some are struggling. Most are somewhere in between.

It is important that we know about that status of the Lutheran schools around us. We are one of those schools. Their status and stature affects us. Their movement from striving to thriving is important to our day-to-day mission.

As we continue to take our insights from Martin Luther, we remind ourselves that we maintain our support of Lutheran schools for the good of the church. In their work with the Lutheran schools of CLEF, our faculty working with CFL have begun to understand the crises facing many of our schools. Simeon Stumme’s review of a book on the effects of Catholic education in the inner city provides insights into our work with Lutheran schools.

Parochial education must begin to partner across denominational lines if we are to thrive. The message in Simeon’s review touches on the sociocultural impact of a parochial school in an urban community. Some of what we learn about that impact comes from the losses that are identified after the closing of a struggling parochial school. That is real food for thought.

My Words for Thought for this issue give you a glimpse into how one handful of Lutheran laymen have partnered to make a difference in the Lutheran Schools of Chicago. That partnership has helped Lutheran schools to thrive, to continue to strive, and sometimes to simply stay alive. What a difference one business lunch has made!

We, the faculty of Concordia University Chicago, are all in the business of making a difference. That is a part of our role as teachers. Professors of knowledge. Researchers of what is. Dreamers of what might be. Communicators of those dreams to our students and to colleagues locally across our faculty and nationally across our various disciplines. Blessings to each of you as you continue to make a difference. LEJ