Our Mission and Vision

Mission Statement:

St. Stephens Lutheran School, in partnership with parents, glorifies God by nurturing and training students to develop their God-given gifts, to excel academically, and to live their faith with others.

Lutheran schools face many challenges today. Christian values and morals are rapidly disappearing. New family structures demand increased time and effort for teachers to minister to children and parents. Classroom education is not the same each year … it is constantly changing, ever evolving. The amount of critical knowledge students are expected to retain is increasing faster than we can imagine. Educational innovations and expectations are happening at such a frantic pace that neither teacher nor student can really keep up.

In the midst of the many changes in our schools and in our world, St. Stephens Lutheran School can offer a constant that does not change. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). Our school teaches the love of Jesus Christ; we teach a changeless Christ to a changing world.

To effectively provide a quality Christian education that meets the ever-changing needs of students, St. Stephens Lutheran School will focus on these core values: faith, excellence, partnership and opportunities.

Our Vision

Our vision as a school ministry is to provide a quality, Christ-centered education that also provides a strong academic foundation to prepare all students for the demands of living in the 21st century.

To reach our vision, our students will develop into responsible, Christ-centered citizens, who make good decisions and witness their faith to others.  We want our professional educators to be well-prepared to teach students in a digital age and have a great understanding of Christian doctrine and practice; the School Board and administration share in the responsibility to ensure that adequate staff development is provided to help keep teachers current and professionally prepared.  And our commitment to a quality education program allows St. Stephens Lutheran School to be a “school of choice” for many students and families, providing opportunities for every child in our school to grow, learn, and find success in school.

Developing a spirit of trust, partnership, and collaboration with parents plays a vital role in the education of students and within our entire school community. Teachers must show love and respect for the many different family situations, accepting the various learning needs of students and appreciating that not all students will have the same talents, skills, or aptitudes. Being flexible and adapting to meet the individual needs of students is critical to the academic success and spiritual development of all students. Parents must also be cooperative and supportive of the efforts of our faculty and staff and handle conflicts and all situations with Christ-like love.

As partners, it is important that all stakeholders within the SSLS community (parents, students, faculty, and congregation) display a positive attitude toward our school ministry. Concerns and opportunities for improvement should be addressed in productive ways through the proper channels. All members of the school community play the role of "advocate for the school" and should share our common mission, core values, purpose, and vision. They are responsible for sharing the strengths and positive components of our school ministry to the people of Hickory and beyond.

The end desire for St. Stephens Lutheran School is to be "a great school for teaching and learning", providing students with a meaningful, quality preparation for life in a caring and passionate way, producing children who live productive Christian lives of service to our Lord and mankind.

Faith

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18

Lutheran schools traditionally do well in teaching children Bible knowledge, Bible history, memory work, and other “head” knowledge. Such learning provides a solid foundation for the child’s spiritual life. Faith formation is helping students learn the “heart” knowledge, helping students apply what they have learned about their faith. Faith formation seems to be a missing component in many Lutheran schools.

Our students need instruction, guidance, and encouragement to practice their faith in the classroom, on the playground and sports fields, and in all areas of their life.  Prayer should be seen not as an obligation or duty, but something that comes willingly as a natural response to planned and unplanned situations. Students need opportunities to carry their faith outside of the classroom and school and through these, the school is known in the community as a place of faith and action.  Chapel worship and classroom devotional life should include varied opportunities and formats to allow for spiritual celebration.  Teachers should be seen as “shepherds” of the faith, guiding students to a stronger and closer faith relationship with Jesus.
Teaching the love of Jesus is not optional in our school … it’s a focus of our daily teaching and our daily learning, and faith formation will help us in our daily living.  We need to share His love and find opportunities to grow our faith in an excellent way.

As we seek to improve our school, we will share the love of Jesus with your child each day in the midst of our reading, writing, and arithmetic skills.  We are blessed with wonderful teachers and staff who are ready to assist your child to grow in knowledge and in faith.

Excellence

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 10:31

The Lutheran school should continue in its pursuit of academic excellence; status quo should not be acceptable. A commitment to a quality education program allows the Lutheran school to be a “school of choice” for many students and families.

Our participation in an accreditation program should not be voluntary; it should be expected.  The National Lutheran School Accreditation program and other accreditation programs demand a standard of excellence through self-assessment and the development and implementation of school improvement action plans.  We need to know where we are and decide that it’s not enough to stay there.  Every school has their strengths and weaknesses, and we need to build into our culture the challenge for excellence in all areas and the desire to get better at our teaching and learning.  In the accreditation process, SSLS will continue to reflect on its mission, investigate its performance, and develop goals and strategies for improvement.

Excellence in education is defined by the quality of the teachers in a school.  Good teachers make a good school.  Great teachers make a great school.  Schools can have a variety of programs, an abundance of equipment and resources, new facilities, and all of the latest technology gadgets … and while all of those things can benefit a school, it is the teachers in the classroom that determine the quality of a school.  Excellence is found in the quality of the teachers.

Keeping our Lutheran educators focused on excellence means equipping them with continued training to impact student learning with current teaching strategies, technology integration, and collaboration with experienced staff.  Our teachers must seek ongoing improvement as “instructional leaders” who are in touch with the best practices in the changing educational landscape.  Teachers must invest their time and energy in things that matter in learning.

SSLS must benchmark its curriculum against national and state standards.  We must select materials and resources that help students become independent learners who are excited about learning with the right tools to be more effective in becoming problem solvers and critical thinkers.

The curriculum and instruction of our school should display an understanding of the diverse learning styles and needs of students.  Student learning is further supported by ongoing efforts to integrate technology into the classroom in both instructional techniques and in student use.

Excellence is a goal, not an option. As we seek to improve our school, we will strive for academic excellence. 

Partnerships

“Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Philippians 2:2

Communication is the most important element in creating a positive school culture between parents and educators. A successful school community includes students, staff, teachers and parents. All of those stakeholders have the opportunity to form important bonds that can last a lifetime. Just like any relationship, the one between home and school takes time, commitment and trust.

We must value our home and school partnership.  Teachers want to partner with parents, and parents want to partner with teachers. In order for our students to reach their fullest potential, there must be partnership between the home and school.  Seeking to understand one another and communicating effectively are absolutely critical elements in this positive partnership.  Listening to each other and providing opportunities for two-way communication and parent input into the school ministry demonstrates a willingness to work together.  Our families and schools need to work together to make a Christian education possible, so that we can “bring them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6).

Developing a spirit of trust, partnership, and collaboration with parents plays a vital role in the education of students and within our entire school community.  Teachers must show love and respect for the many different family situations, accepting the various learning needs of students and appreciating that not all students will have the same talents, skills, or aptitudes.  Being flexible and adapting to meet the individual needs of students is critical to the academic success and spiritual development of all students.  Our parents must also be cooperative and supportive of the efforts of our faculty and staff and handle conflicts and all situations with Christ-like love.

As partners, it is important that all stakeholders within the SSLS community (parents, students, faculty, and congregation) display a positive attitude toward our school ministry.  Concerns and opportunities for improvement should be addressed in productive ways through the proper channels.  All members of the school community play the role of "advocate for the school" and should share our common mission, core values, purpose, and vision.  They are responsible for sharing the strengths and positive components of our school ministry to the people of Hickory and beyond.

As our school strives to teach the “whole” child, we will include a proactive parent partnership plan.  SSLS will provide a strong family support system by offering parenting classes, resource materials, and counseling assistance to address the needs of the ever-changing family structure. 

Partnership is a goal, not an option.  As we seek to improve our school, we will strive to build positive partnerships in our school.  

Opportunity

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are beautiful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
We believe in opportunity.  We believe that every child should have the opportunity to grow, learn, and find success in school.  We believe that students thrive in a Christian environment where safety and security inspires confidence and where parent partnerships generate success.

As a school of opportunity, we offer opportunities to students beyond the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic.  We provide opportunities in fine arts, music, athletics, foreign language, technology, and community service that are integral to learning, not optional.

Our opportunities begin in preschool, where our youngest students experience a solid foundation to ensure future school success.  Elementary and middle school students have opportunities to build their academic skills, grow in faith, and develop a love for life-long learning.  During their time at our school, we offer enrichment and remedial resources that meets the needs of our students.  And we have the opportunity to partner with University Christian High School to provide a strong Christian education program for our high school students.

Making the most of our opportunities, our students produce high levels of academic achievement in our school and in high school, college, and beyond.  Our students consistently rank in the top 20% nationally, and our teachers employ instructional techniques that give every child the opportunity to learn to his God-given potential.

And our opportunities extend beyond the classroom.  Our students are involved in community outreach, putting their faith into action.  Our sports program offers opportunities for growth through competition, teamwork, and sportsmanship.  We provide opportunities for students to honor God by using their gifts of music and drama through concerts and performances.  And we offer extended learning through local field trips and overnight trips to regional sites.

As a school of faith, excellence, and partnerships, it is also important that we provide varied opportunities so that each child can find success in school, building for future success in life.  Opportunities make a difference in the lives of students and they make a difference in our school.  Opportunities are not optional, they are integral to our school program.