From Where I Sit…What’s In a Story

May 24th, 2018 | Category: Here I sit
By Shirley Morgenthaler

The answer to the above question often depends on who is telling the story. Is it a mother or a father? Is it a child? Is it a teacher? Is it a pastor? Is it a politician? Is it a professor?

Maybe the storyteller fits two or even three of the above categories. When my children were in middle school and high school, a frequent question at the dinner table was, “Mom, are you telling that story as a professor or as a mom?” A decade earlier the question had been whether I was telling the story as a mom or as a preschool teacher. A preschool teacher? How could I injure their elementary minds with a story so beneath them?

In this issue we have a variety of stories. Russell Moore’s story comes from a blog I discovered some weeks ago. Ardele Pate’s story comes from her own journey as a university professor who recently completed the colloquy as a Lutheran Teaching Minister.  The story of School Superintendent Competencies is complex. It compels us to look at leadership competencies through the lens of schooling. But schooling is not the only place where leadership is important. Maybe what we need to do is simply broaden our concept of schooling to encompass the strategic coaching of a university professor and the wise and patient coaching of a preschool teacher sitting on the floor and playing with a small group of children who are discussing and demonstrating the story of the Good Shepherd as they play.

Teaching, as it is practiced, modeled, taught, and written about at Concordia University Chicago, is a multi-faceted enterprise. This enterprise includes the teaching and nurturing of the youngest in our society, beginning with infants.  Within the enterprise of the Early Childhood Education Center, teaching is also directed toward university students, from the college freshman completing his first observation requirement to the doctoral student collecting data for her dissertation research. When that doctoral research is focused on faith formation, as in Mimi’s article, the core mission of the university is both highlighted and furthered.

From the ECEC we travel to the Literacy Center, where professors and students collaborate with classroom teachers to focus on the literacy development of children throughout Lutheran schools in Chicago, in partnership with CLEF, the Chicagoland Lutheran Education Foundation. Their projects, where literacy is embedded in the real world, demonstrate both new and time-tested methodologies for classroom teachers and for university students. Sandra’s discussion of literacy and language embodies that partnership.

It is not only in the literacy world where theory and practice, professor and classroom teacher meet. Similar meetings take place across the curriculum, where teachers invite professors to work alongside them, creating theory and strategic teaching together. Whether in biology or history or mathematics or earth science, professors and teachers find ways to work together for the furtherance of the enterprise of learning. Frankly, it’s not teaching that matters. It’s learning. Adam’s research with two classroom teachers is the story of that enterprise of learning. It’s an example of what happens across the Concordias, whether in Chicago or Wisconsin or in any of the other eight sister universities.

From elementary and secondary classrooms, we move to the stories found in the university classrooms themselves. From instructional technology issues and methods to the education of school principals and superintendents, the story of Concordia University Chicago is shared with students in many places and many ways. Ardele’s story focuses on communicating a Lutheran identity as she teaches about technology. The work of Bob, Jeff, Craig, and Dan takes this Concordia across Illinois, supporting the development and certification of school principals and school superintendents in large schools and districts, and in small schools and districts. The forming of ethical leaders for the schools of the twenty-first century is an important enterprise in our College of Graduate Studies.

Beyond the classroom, we also form future school and community counselors. Israel’s story of that enterprise also focuses on the foundation of ethics as key to formation of the counselors we teach and the counseling they learn. Beyond the classroom, we also form students through prayer, through chapel, through Bible studies, through mission trips, and through concert tours. Dan’s story focuses on only one of those formative vehicles, our daily chapel services, intentionally embedded in the ritual and song, the prayer and preaching of the Lutheran faith on which Concordia University Chicago stands. Thinking about the dust of our passage to heaven while preparing our students for life and vocation may seem like an impossible juxtaposition. Yet that very juxtaposition is the story of each of our journeys.

Each of the articles and columns gathered here and selected to honor our heritage as Lutheran Christians and to communicate the story of the multi-faceted enterprise of the Lutheran university in the twenty-first century. As you travel through the various articles that each tell a part of the story, enjoy the journey. LEJ