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Welcome Back from the Principal

August 13, 2012 Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends; Welcome back to the one and only 2012-13 school year we will ever have! It is a great blessing for me to be starting my third year at Atonement and I’m looking forward to seeing all our scholars back in school very soon. While the summer might never seem long enough – it’s time for our extended family to be back together. One of the reoccurring mantras, perhaps we can call it a core value, at Atonement is “Team and Family.” We discuss it often. That is really a biblical teaching:

In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. Galatians 3:26. Seeing our entire school family in heaven is our first priority. We think in terms of Heaven, then
Harvard. We are so grateful that in Milwaukee we are able to be a community school and teach so clearly the Gospel of Christ! I encourage you to rejoice with us each Friday morning (starting September 1st ) at 8:15am in our all-school chapel service. Everyone is welcome! We are adding to our family and have reached capacity in most of our classes. At this point we have over 270

students enrolled at Atonement with over 20 still on our waiting list. Enrollment increased by 9% over last year and by 29% from two years ago. God continues to bless our school with great
families looking for a quality Christian Education. Before I get into a few of the specifics of the school year let’s celebrate our scholars and teachers a little. One especially great honor over the summer was that the Schools That Can Milwaukee governing board recommended us for full membership in the national Schools That Can. This would make us one of only 5 or 6 schools in Milwaukee (depending if another school is approved) and one of less than 100 in the nation. As you already know we will start school in a staggered way this year. Grades 7-8th on the August 21st, Grades 5-8 on August 22nd, and then 3k-8th on August 23rd . Based in part on a visit that Mr. Gorsline and I took to schools in New York, we’ve fashioned a beginning of the year that helps 5-8th graders focus on their opportunity to lead. Another reason to give special focus to our middle school students is their unique nature. They have such potential that historically gets lost in the midst of their sometimes “intense” development from children to adolescents and young adults. We hope to capture their enthusiasm and creativity while building capacity to make healthy and informed decisions. The Atonement staff has been heavily involved in Professional Development

and planning

over the summer. They studied, analyzed and practiced three different techniques from “Teach Like a
Champion” by Doug Lemov. This was especially possible because five of our staff traveled to Albany, NY to learn to lead the techniques from Doug Lemov himself this past school year. The faculty practiced a complex strategy called 100%, which is focused on keeping all children engaged in the lesson or activity 100% of the time. We also

Welcome Back from the Principal
studied “Joy Factor” and “Precise Praise” techniques designed to build on our positive environment . Many of our administration and teacher leaders have also attended networking and professional development

sessions led by Schools that Can Milwaukee (STCM). STCM has been instrumental in providing
training and support for our leaders as they focus on methods that ensure every one of our scholars gets a college-bound education. At the end of our last school year we entered into a partnership with SKYWARD, who has developed a comprehensive database system for student records management and reporting. A major benefit is that it automatically creates systems that enable quick and frequent communication between families and school.

Our plan is that by the middle of this school year, sometime in January, we will be able to make grades viewable online for parents. We will definitely keep you posted. We also will have the
capability in the case of emergencies (school closings etc.) or important updates to text and email quickly at the same time. Sometimes, to best meet the needs of students and our school, rearrangement of staffing makes the most sense. That was the case this year. Here are the quick notes:  Ms. Jackie Horton moved from 2nd grade to become our 4th grade teacher.  Mr. Jacob Beilke moved from our 4th grade to our 5th grade, the first class of our middle school program.  Ms. Julie Boggs, who just completed a year of teaching in Antigua, is excited to replace Ms. Horton in our 2nd grade.  We are also happy that we have added a couple of Educational Assistants to our staff. While we are still working to fill one position this will ultimately enable us to have two teachers in each classroom through fourth grade and another EA for middle school reading. Ms. Edye Hilgendorf will be working with our Kindergarten classes, especially 5K, and Mrs. Rachel Reichert is looking forward to working in our first grade classroom. We have also added a newly Called position to the Atonement Early Childhood Center. Hollie Mueller was Called by our congregation as an ECC teacher. Mrs. Mueller has been a tremendous benefit already. Working with our director, Mrs. Schleiden and Eric Borchert, they have painted, rearranged, and truly enhanced the ECC building and are planning for an exceptional year. Welcome aboard Ms. Mueller! This year we created a new part-time position called the High School Placement Advisor. Atonement is proud that the majority of its graduates attend Wisconsin Lutheran High School (WISCO). We have a strong partnership with WISCO and we strongly desire each of our graduates to continue there in our K-12 Christian system. However, because of some of the regulations of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), our graduates are not guaranteed acceptance into the MPCP and therefore cannot pay for high school at WISCO or other private high schools. Consequently the High School Placement Advisor, Jessica Luehring, will assist our 7-8th graders and their parents, when desired, in making sure they have all their bases covered and have more than one good option for high school. This year two interns from Wisconsin Lutheran College will also join our staff to learn and contribute to our program. Kristin Plessinger, who has taught in our summer school for the last two years, will be joining us in January in the 4th grade classroom. Stephanie Kudek will be starting in the 5th grade classroom this Fall. This June the congregation at Atonement Lutheran Church voted overwhelmingly to enter into a Capital Campaign to ultimately raise $4 million for a new Early Childhood Center, additional school classrooms as well as needed work on the church itself. This three-year campaign has already begun but will

Welcome Back from the Principal
ramp up this Fall. Lord willing, this building will allow us to better serve you and future families of Atonement. You will hear much more about this throughout the year. Assessment is an important ingredient, often missed by some institutions, to the most effective education. This year we will build

on our interim assessment program by having four assessments throughout the year.

Figure 1 Sketch of Proposed Addition

Each assessment will be accompanied by a full analysis by our faculty. Don’t be surprised if your child comes home talking about them. They are a big deal to our scholars because they are a time for them to shine! The faculty then uses the results to amend their instructional plan for the following quarter.

4 Ways to Make This a Great Year
1. Have great school attendance. (At least 97% attendance) While 100% is ideal sometimes illness just plain prevents that possibility. However keeping attendance above 97% (less than 2 absences per quarter) reduces the risk of loosing pace with the rest of the class. 2. Set up a quiet and regular place for you child to do school work. Homework is a big responsibility for our scholars. You can help your children at home best if you create an atmosphere for learning. 3. Make reading a regular part of your family time. There isn’t a single strategy for increased learning than reading. Even just turning off the TV for 15 minutes a night and replacing it with reading will significantly impact learning. 4. Communicate and support your child’s teacher. Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions, follow up, or simply just ask how your child is doing. When you have questions or concerns please contact your child’s teacher directly. Many times it can be worked out as all of the facts are figured out together. I’ve created a new phone number through Google Voice specifically for current or

prospective parents and scholars.

The new number is 414-751-0320. You can continue to use my cell at 414-721-8980 but at the other number it will be easier to get back to you quicker if I can’t answer right when you call. In Christ’s Service,

Shaun Luehring, Principal Parent/Scholar Cell: 414-751-0320 Cell: 414-721-8980