There are more than 1,800 Lutheran schools throughout the world. Concordia University, with its residential campuses in Mequon and Ann Arbor, as well as online programs that reach learners worldwide, is proud to play a vital role in preparing the next generation of called workers for these schools.
Between its two campuses, CUWAA prepares the most Lutheran teachers for the LCMS. The latest data from the Concordia University System shows that, in 2020-2021, CUWAA enrolled 159 individuals in pursuit of their Lutheran Teacher Diploma. The Wisconsin campus alone celebrated 111 candidates, just three individuals shy of Concordia-Nebraska’s total.
Faith in the classroom is essential
But it’s not enough to simply attract qualified candidates. Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor prioritizes the hiring and retaining of faculty who daily model what it means to be a Lutheran educator. Because who better to train the future teachers of the LCMS than those who have been there, done that themselves?
At Concordia University Wisconsin specifically, the School of Education’s fulltime faculty roster includes 13 instructors (as well as numerous adjuncts instructors) who have at one point served within a Lutheran K-12 school setting. The faith and expertise of these faculty shape Concordia’s robust educational offerings: 32 traditional undergraduate programs, 25 graduate education programs, and the Doctor of Education in Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement.
Overseeing it all is Dr. James Pingel II. Pingel has been a part of Lutheran schools his entire life, whether as a student (he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CUW) or an employee. In the latter capacity, he taught and served as an administrator at Mayer Lutheran in Minnesota before accepting an executive director role at Sheboygan Lutheran High School. In January 2014, he joined CUW’s graduate education faculty and later became dean.
For Pingel, incorporating faith in the classroom is not merely superficial; it’s essential.
“Both public and parochial schools say that ‘students deserve the best.’ The difference is Lutheran/Christian schools actually give students the best—we teach Jesus and God’s Word!” said Pingel. “Nothing is more important for a student’s life now and for eternity than Christ crucified.”
Meet a few of our faithful faculty
Faculty agree with Pingel and hold sacred their privilege and responsibility to instruct the future educators of the world from a distinctly Lutheran perspective.
Adam Paape, EdD
Associate Professor of Education; Chair, Secondary Education Department; Director of Accelerated Bachelor’s Licensure Programs; Director, Concordia Accelerated Program for Teacher Licensure—Post-Baccalaureate
Years at CUW: 12
Church you attend: First Immanuel Lutheran in Cedarburg
Why are you a Lutheran educator? Being a Lutheran educator is truly a calling. As I think about the thousands of students I’ve taught in Lutheran schools, I am honored to have been a part of their faith walk in life. For many students, math can be a topic that causes stress and anxiety. I have always had a goal of helping my students to see the fingerprints of God in the midst of the math He created. As a Lutheran educator, I want to model the grace that our loving Savior has already given to me.
Give an example of how faith is incorporated into your instruction or interactions with students at Concordia: At the beginning of every class, we begin with prayer. In our online math courses that I now teach to our post-traditional populations in the School of Education, I regularly infuse Biblical concepts. For instance, in our measurement module within our MATH120 Data and Space course, my students looked at the Ark and did a wide variety of conversions between the Biblical unit of measure of cubits to that of feet. We considered the wonder of this massive building project as we consider the grace of God to Noah and his family.
Steve Gerner, EdD
Dean of Students; Professor of Education
Years at CUW: 14
Church you attend: First Immanuel Lutheran Church in Cedarburg
Why are you a Lutheran educator? Knowing the end game of heaven, being able to share my faith to students, families, and the community is so important. The answers to danger in our world, mental health concerns, loneliness, rejection, and fear is all found in God’s word. Being a Lutheran educator we can go right to the source for true answers. In addition, having a university that everyone is present because they believe so strongly in our mission of Lutheran education is very motivating to continue to work hard ensuring all students are taught about our loving Lord and Savior.
Give an example of how faith is incorporated into your instruction or interactions with students at Concordia: Daily, faith is incorporated in student interactions regarding conduct, living on campus, friendships, and future decisions. When I teach, the central focus of God’s Word permeates throughout the course in discussions, assignments, and immersion trips to city schools. One clear example of faith integration is when we immerse ourselves in Milwaukee schools. Whether working in small groups, viewing high-performing educators in action, or assisting a teacher, our Concordia students model and share their Christian faith. I constantly hear positive news about how special our Concordia University students are when gaining real-life experiences in schools and I can confidently say it is the incredible focus on our collective mission: Service to Christ in the church and the world.
Steven Witt, PhD
Director of Graduate Education; Professor of Education
Years at CUW: 14
Church you attend: St. Paul Lutheran Church in Grafton
Why are you a Lutheran educator? I have been called into the vocation of a Lutheran educational leader and teacher, to carry out God’s great commission to “Go ye therefore and teach all nations…” By God’s power I have had the privilege to carry this mission out on five continents. Meeting people from all walks of life and building eternal relationships is what continues to inspire me.
Give an example of how faith is incorporated into your instruction or interactions with students at Concordia: The most powerful way I connect with students is building a personal and trusted faith-based connection during every contact I have with students, colleagues, district, and community leaders.
Kyle Churhan, EdD
Elementary/Early Childhood Education Coordinator on the CUAA campus
Years at Concordia: 8
Church you attend: Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Birmingham, Michigan
Why are you a Lutheran educator? I love knowing that the influence I have on my current students will impact their future students more than I will ever know or be able to see.
Give an example of how faith is incorporated into your instruction or interactions with students at Concordia: More than anything, I think it is that I treat them with respect. I expect their best because the work they will do as teachers is so critically important, but I also give them grace when they fall short or need extra support or encouragement to meet their goals.
Brad Alles, EdD
Associate Professor of Education
Years at CUW: 6
Church you attend: Grace Lutheran in Menomonee Falls
Why are you a Lutheran educator? I have always loved sharing what God has shown me in the Word. Being able to prepare the next generation of Lutheran teachers is vital in this post-Christian culture.
Give an example of how faith is incorporated into your instruction or interactions with students at Concordia: After beginning each class with prayer, I incorporate a biblical perspective to the topic at hand whether in Foundations of Education or Human Relations for Teachers. For example, Bible passages that apply to helping the poor are shared when we address poverty in education. In my Teaching the Faith class, which is for Lutheran Teacher Diploma candidates, the focus is on faith integration in all subjects along with understanding developmental stages of students and the need for apologetics education to strengthen faith.
Val Keiper, PhD
Professor of Education
Years at CUW: 41
Church you attend: St. John Lutheran Church in Glendale
Why are you a Lutheran educator? People are the reason I do what I do. Hopefully my faith and love of Jesus will be evident in all that I do and that my words and actions give glory to God.
Give an example of how faith is incorporated into your instruction or interactions with students at Concordia: I pray for my students and let them know that they are being prayed for and cared for.
Nicole Muth, PhD
Elementary Education Department Chair; Professor of Education and Mathematics
Years at CUW: 16
Church you attend: Trinity Lutheran Church in Sheboygan
Why are you a Lutheran educator? Our Lutheran schools teach students first and foremost about their Savior, and their need for a Savior. Not only do Lutheran schools provide a solid Christian foundation for children from Lutheran families, but they are also fertile mission fields where many students and their families are brought to faith. As a Lutheran teacher, I can share the peace and comfort that can only come from the word of God with someone who is struggling with many issues.
Give an example of how faith is incorporated into your instruction or interactions with students at Concordia: I start each class period with a short devotion and prayer. I make connections to the topic of the lesson when possible, but also include a lot of devotions and prayers that focus on God’s answer to stress, anxiety, and depression. These are issues that many of our students struggle with.
James D. Juergensen, EdD
Director of LCMS Placement; Director of Student Teaching
Years at CUW: 11
Church you attend: First Immanuel Lutheran Church in Cedarburg
Why are you a Lutheran educator? My current role at CUW allows me to work closely with the next generation of teachers for our Lutheran schools and developing relationships and sharing the Good News everyday with these students and others is what it’s all about! And then seeing them go out and do the same is awesome!
Give an example of how faith is incorporated into your instruction or interactions with students at Concordia: Prayer is a part of EVERY class I teach, along with finding scripture that connects with the various topics we are covering in class. I also love connecting with our student-athletes on campus to combine two of my greatest passions—faith and sports—through team devotions and individual conversation and encouragement, etc.
Kathleen Kramer, PhD
Years at CUW: 12
Church you attend: St. John’s Lutheran Church in North Prairie
Why are you a Lutheran educator? I am able to freely share the love of Jesus Christ with others.
Give an example of how faith is incorporated into your instruction or interactions with students at Concordia: Teaching science methods courses to pre-service teachers allows me to integrate faith and science as clearly reflected in God’s creation.
— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-243-2149.
If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.