2014-15 Annual Report

Dear Friends

Since my arrival as President/CEO in July, I have been amazed at the enthusiasm and support of Lutheran Special Education Ministries, from our educators in the mission field, our staff at the national office, and our partners and friends.  I am truly humbled and blessed to be leading this ministry during this time.

This has been a year of transition at LSEM, and we have used the opportunity to realign our staffing at the national office to better meet the needs of our partner schools, churches, and families we serve.  We have also embarked upon several ambitious projects, including an update of our web site (the “front door” of our ministry), a realignment of the materials we use to promote our programs, and a review of our internal processes to make sure we are good stewards of the gifts we have been given.  We do all of this so that we may meet our mission: to provide Christ-centered resources for children with learning needs.

In the short time I have served as President/CEO, our leadership team has traveled across the country to meet with supporters, potential school partners, churches, and families to discuss how LSEM can best serve the needs of the communities we reach. We have raised awareness of our ministry so that we may reach, serve, and support more children than ever before!

Our ministry’s greatest asset has been our ability to adapt to the needs of the children we serve.  Since 1873, LSEM has supported children with learning needs, and as we move forward to our 143rd year, we are in an excellent position to continue fulfilling our mission.   We hope that you enjoy reading about the good works you have supported this year, and will continue to join us on this exciting journey!


Stacy Hoeft


“And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Matthew 19:26

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DEVELOPMENT:  Creating Opportunities to Connect You with Our Ministry

LSEM’s development staff, Liz Roe, Caitlin McCallum and Dennis Senne, worked hard over the past year to make sure that those who support our ministry understand the positive impact their support has on the children we serve.  Through the increased use of social media and LSEM’s web site, the development department shares stories of our students, both past and present, and how the ministry made an impact on their life.  Earlier in 2015, Liz was able to interview Faith, a former student who has changed the face of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) through advocacy and positive action.  This talented young lady shared her story, which includes her art, music, and other gifts.  Her story can be found here: https://luthsped.org/updated-faith-story.

Caitlin McCallum, LSEM’s development assistant, has taken her gift of writing and assumed the role of grant writer for the ministry.  Since June, Caitlin has woven stories into our requests for grants, linking how foundations and organizations may enrich the lives of all children.

LSEM’s development department has increased its outreach into the community by hosting “Building a Brighter Future” (BABF) events across the country.  Development Counselor Dennis Senne arranged our first Minnesota-based BABF event at his home church, St. Michaels, who has supported LSEM for many years. These events are intended to raise awareness of LSEM at current and future churches and schools we serve, allow people to experience what it is like to have learning difficulties, and showcase our programs.  For more information on how you can host a Building a Brighter Future event at your church or school, please contact Liz Roe at lroe@luthsped.org.

PROGRAMS & SERVICES:  Getting to the Heart of Specialized Education

LSEM’s greatest asset to teachers and administrators is its Resource Center.  Led by Kara Bratton, the center provides information on specialized education to LSEM teachers, partner schools and churches, and educators with a heart for learning best practices for specialized learners. This year, it worked double-time to expand its reach across the country.

At the beginning of June, LSEM brought together our teachers from across the country for a few days of fellowship, fun, and learning. Renowned dyslexia expert Dr. Marcia Henry led a one-day workshop on literacy instruction. Almost 70 teachers were present for this workshop, including LSEM teachers and general education teachers from our partnership schools in Michigan and Indiana. This event also included an evening banquet to celebrate milestones for LSEM teachers’ years of service and to recognize the retirement of Susan Lewis, LSEM’s Resource Center Director and grant writer.

Later in the summer, LSEM and St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Ann Arbor, MI hosted a half-day workshop for teachers in the region.  Almost 100 educators participated in the morning workshop, focusing on providing information about common disabilities seen in classrooms and presenting strategies for instruction and accommodations for these different groups of learners.

Kara and LSEM teacher Sharon Messman recently participated in a day-long event at Concordia University-Austin (Texas), providing information to other educators on gifted and talented programs and educational plans for specialized learners. As LSEM continues to grow its network, the Resource Center hopes to expand its educational programs to include Webinars, parent education and other opportunities to share resources in unique yet meaningful ways.