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New endowment fund honors a family legacy, invests in ongoing education for WC faculty members

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Worthington Christian’s teachers are the lifeblood of the school. One of WC’s six core values is “recruiting and developing an outstanding faculty.” One way that the school administration continuously demonstrates the centrality of this value is through investing in the faculty’s development. Like educators in most school systems, WC’s faculty takes part in professional development under the leadership of Director of Teaching and Learning Tom Burns. Above and beyond these initiatives, though, is a more individualized opportunity for our teachers.

For over ten years, WC’s annual budget has included funds set aside specifically for teachers that want to pursue higher degrees and additional education. Forty percent of WC’s current faculty have master’s degrees or higher. In the last five years alone, eighteen faculty members have received funds from WC for continuing their education. In 2017, the school administration changed the policy to provide even more support to teachers in pursuit of higher education, moving from 65% reimbursement upon completion of courses to 100% cost coverage upfront. Making this a specific part of the annual budget is one of the many ways that WC prioritizes supporting its faculty.

Seventh and eighth grade Bible teacher Michael Clutz benefited from WC’s financial support of continuing education, completing a master’s degree in education from Cedarville University in 2012. He also completed an additional 15 credits of seminary work from Trinity International University through support from WC. In his words, “These degrees… give me tools to put in my teaching tool box each day. I am grateful that WC provided the funding for my continued education. WC thrives because of excellent, trained teachers who are passionate about their craft. We love our students deeply, but we also want them to be equipped at a high level.”

Opening up even more possibilities for WC teachers to pursue higher education is a brand-new endowment fund called “Lucille’s Legacy.” This endowment was established by WC parents Scott and Heather Thomas in honor of Heather’s grandmother, Lucille Schmitz, a special woman who had a passion for teachers and kids. Through her involvement with the school as a mom and volunteer, Heather developed an awareness of ways to better fund and support WC’s teachers. Desiring to honor the memory of her grandmother, she and Scott created an endowment fund in her name. This fund is specifically directed to any teacher that has taught at WC for three or more school years, has demonstrated commitment to the school, and is pursuing a degree in an area that will benefit the students. The fund is structured in such a way that it will continue to grow and never go away, and it allows for additional contributors. The Thomas family wanted to ensure that this investment in WC’s faculty will be on-going.

The first-ever recipient of this endowment, awarded this year, is Upper School Christian and Social Studies teacher (and alumnus) Adam Heath (WC ’99). He is currently pursuing a Masters in Theology and Social Justice from Northeastern Seminary. Heath explains that he has benefited tremendously from his continuing education thus far, including being shaped pedagogically by excellent professors, enriched in his technology skills as a teacher, and inspired by his interaction with the Truth encountered in his coursework. He also describes being “encouraged to note that the education we are giving at WC’s Upper School is absolutely commensurate with a seminary level of content and instruction.”

Both Clutz and Heath emphasize that their continued education is not just about achievement, status, grades, or cultural markers of success—certainly there is much that being an outstanding teacher includes beyond what can be seen on paper. Another WC core value is also woven into this type of investment in teachers. That is, establishing the important of intellectual pursuit in Christian discipleship. Heath sums it up well, “We as teachers hope to be lifelong learners and to produce lifelong learners who are more interested in who they are becoming than they are in what accolades they receive.” It is to this end–developing a community of lifelong learners–that WC and Lucille’s Legacy are committed.

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