“We focus on educating from child to adult,” Principal Dave Gartner said, adding the school and St. John Lutheran Church work in concert to ensure students get the kind of Christian education that helps them better understand their faith.
Three out of every four church-going youth stop attending church after they have gone off to college. That trend is one people like Dave Gartner wants to reverse. Gartner, who is the principal at St. John Lutheran School in Redwood Falls, knows the value of education. He also recognizes the importance of teaching God’s Word as part of preparing today’s youth for their future. Yet, he added, Christian education does not end when one graduates from high school or even college. It is a lifelong effort. That is what is being celebrated during Lutheran Education Week.
“We focus on educating from child to adult,” said Gartner, adding the school and St. John Lutheran Church work in concert to ensure students and the congregation as a whole are getting the kind of Christian education that is helping them better understand their faith. Lutheran Education Week is a chance for those involved in Christian education associated with the Lutheran church to celebrate and to focus on ensuring the education it provides is meeting those needs. “At St. John’s we are able to teach God’s Word to our students,” said Gartner, adding that means incorporating faith elements into every subject from social studies to science. “We offer a Bible class for students, but throughout the day learning about God is infused in what they learn.” The increased growth of the school’s program is evidence others think what it offers is of value, as the school currently has an enrollment in preschool through eighth grade of 135. Since opening its new school building it has had to add more staff, and an area designated for a computer lab had to be converted into another classroom. Running into space issues is a great problem to have, agreed Gartner, adding students who attend the school are coming from as far as a 30-mile radius. Gartner said he believes the Lord is blessing the school’s efforts, adding the quality of the staff and the commitment of volunteers and families has become a real strength of the school. Now in its 31st year of education, Gartner said a handful of students who attended St. John’s over those years have gone on to become teachers and pastors helping to ensure Christian education continues to be shared with the next generation of people. Gartner said it has been exciting to see the growth and success St. John is having, but he said the credit all belongs to God. “It is amazing to see what is happening here,” Gartner said, adding the strong support of the congregation in committing to offering that Christian education helps to ensure the quality of the program being offered. Students are gaining those skills they need at St. John’s school and they are gaining the faith foundation they are going to rely on as they continue learning about that faith for the rest of their lives.