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Home Features Education Students Energized by LEA Convocation

By Anna Herl


Education students from CUNE felt encouraged and supported after attending a convocation held by The Lutheran Education Association.

The Lutheran Education Association was founded in 1942 and has served educators in Lutheran ministry for the last 80 years, seeking to equip educators by providing resources from around the world.

The association started the ‘Grow a Teacher Initiative’ 12 years ago and pays for 10 students from each of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Concordia universities to attend. Concordia University, Nebraska pays for an additional four students. At this convocation, 189 workshops were held over three days for the 3,000 people who attended. 

Blaire Rebber, a junior studying early childhood education, said her experience reassured her in her calling.

“Being with so many LCMS Lutheran educators really reassured me that God has called me to a job where I can be with like-minded people who all love God as well as building relationships with students, families, and communities,” she said.

Dr. Lorinda Sankey, dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, has led the initiative at CUNE since 2016. She said students attending the event have been able to gain confidence in their ability to network.

“They know that they made connections and learned new learnings and new connections that they would take with them in their first calls,” Sankey said. 

Lauren Dawson, a junior, said she was affected by the passion she saw in the educators attending the event.

“The most impactful element was observing the passion for teaching in those around me,” Dawson said. “It really got me fired up about the profession in a way that I wasn’t previously, and I think that will definitely make me more intentional in my future classroom.”

According to Sankey, the goal of the initiative is to “provide an opportunity for our undergraduate Lutheran education students to become part of the Lutheran education professional community” and to “begin building their own network of colleagues beyond those at Concordia” respectively.

Both Hannah Eatherton, a senior, and Stephanie Mashuga, a junior, realized they are not alone in the Lutheran education field. Eatherton said she feels she is “a part of something bigger.” 

Eatherton said she realized that being a Lutheran teacher means working with others to spread the Gospel.

“The convocation helped me realize that when I’m a teacher at a Lutheran school I am a part of something greater than myself and my school and church,” Eatherton said. “I am a part of many schools and churches who have a passion for educating young children and who are working to spread the Gospel to all people.”

Mashuga said she learned that all Lutheran educators came together to share their knowledge with one another to learn and grow together.

“I’m not the only one, and we’re all on the same team,” Mashuga said, “We all come from different backgrounds, and all have different knowledge, but we all came together to better ourselves in this career.”

The LEA’s mission is “linking, equipping, and affirming educators in Lutheran ministries.” 

Dr. Jonathan Laabs, executive director, has more than 45 years of Lutheran education experience. “Everything we do is to encourage and support the Lutheran education ministry,” Laabs said.

Senior Rebekah Stadler’s experience aligned with this as she was encouraged by the teachers there. 

“When experienced teachers found out that my first year of teaching is next year, they were encouraging me and telling me how rewarding teaching is,” Stadler said.

Laabs said that it is important for Lutheran education students to feel like they belong in their field.

“It’s important that students, as they’re preparing to become Lutheran educators, feel like they’re part of the education system before they go into full-time teaching,” Laabs said.

The first convocation, in 1984, brought 300 educators from around the United States together. Now the convocation averages around 3,000 attendees and has extended its reach around the world. 

“We’ve become more global in our scope and have been very intentional with reaching out to the world to become involved with other Lutheran education organizations,” Laabs said.

Rebber said that building students’ relationships with God is what it is all about.

“There is nothing more important than building a student’s relationship with God, and being with so many Lutheran educators made me marvel at the fact that we are all teaching for that reason,” Rebber said.

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