A Fireside Chat with Stacy Hoeft
A Fireside Chat with Stacy Hoeft
- July 22, 2020
- Posted by: Caitlin McCallum
- Category: Summer Shorts
As part of our Summer Shorts series we are sharing with you some insights into how LSEM functions during the summer months. I sat down (through email) with our President/CEO, Stacy Hoeft, to ask her a few questions that shed light on summertime ministry operations.
Caitlin: Summer is here, and most folks would think that it’s our down time since we serve children in school. What does the summer season actually look like for LSEM?
Stacy: When I was a principal people would call the school office and when I answered they would say, “Wow! You’re there?” That just taught me most people don’t really know all that goes into running a school and all the work teachers and principals do to get ready for another school year. “Summers off” is often a phrase people use when describing a teacher’s job, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.
While it’s true that most teachers try to take a vacation in the summer (because it’s really the only time of the year they can get away without creating a huge inconvenience for themselves and others), summer isn’t a time for lounging around by the pool – unless he/she takes their planning work poolside, which I’d highly recommend if it’s an option!. Teachers never stop planning, learning, preparing, collecting, practicing, copying, researching, discussing, collating, laminating, buying, and loving and yes, missing our students. When you’re doing “heart work” it doesn’t stop for nights, weekends, or summers.
Since we are a national ministry, supporting about 75 schools and districts, our summer at the national office is very busy. We spend the summer developing a budget, closing out the previous school year, collecting and finalizing records and documentation, ordering and distributing supplies for our schools, finalizing partnership agreements and teacher contracts, hiring LOTS of teachers, providing professional development opportunities for teachers, and so much more!
Caitlin: Why is THIS summer an especially important time for us?
Stacy: Summer is an important time overall, because it gives our ministry some time to refocus. There are less conferences (which means less travel), schools are closed, and we can take a moment to make sure everything we’re doing is effective and efficient. We can catch our breath and get the energy it requires to start another school year.
This summer is especially important since our schools ended the school year in such a non-traditional way. COVID-19 presented us with many unexpected challenges and even though our teachers and staff rose to those challenges it is nice to be able to pause and determine if the things we were doing were the most effective. It gives our teachers and staff the opportunity to make new plans, do some research, discuss with other professionals, and make sure that the next school year is as successful as possible. We always want to give our students the best and the summer gives us the chance to make sure we’re doing just that.
Caitlin: This summer we are also getting ready for the coming school year while handling COVID-19 concerns. What is LSEM doing to prepare our teachers and students for what classrooms will look like in the Fall?
Stacy: As a national ministry, we are dealing with numerous school districts in fourteen different states where policies and regulations can be drastically different. Therefore, LSEM’s approach cannot be one-size-fits-all. We are in close contact with our partner principals and teachers, who are developing and learning their individual building plans. Each of our programs is already so different, but the goal is always the same – to make our students as successful as possible.
The COVID-19 crisis has created obstacles on top of the obstacles our students already face. However, our teachers are skilled at constantly finding and trying new approaches with each of his/her students. We have always worked to meet the individual needs of each of our students, so in some ways the delivery platform is the only thing that’s changed for our teachers. We will continue to provide all the resources and training our teachers need to support our students and we’re confident that we’ll be able to see them through these uncertain times.
Caitlin: LSEM moved our national office to Ann Arbor this summer. How does this move help us serve students for many years to come?
Stacy: Our office is now located in the building that’s home to the Michigan District of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. While we’ve adjusted a lot of our work to be done remotely from individual home offices over the past few months, this new office space gives us a connection to a larger ministry. Our national ministry office being located in Ann Arbor gives us an opportunity to be in shared ministry with one of the largest LCMS districts.
I think it’s very important for ministry to be done in fellowship with others, not standing on an island of our own. Shared resources allow us to spend more of our dollars on students instead of an office building. This new space also puts in close proximity to Concordia University in Ann Arbor, MI which will, with shared ministry objectives, allow us to have space to conduct professional development opportunities we may not have had otherwise. It’s a very exciting move that I pray will have profound blessings for many people for many years to come, some of which are yet unknown to us. I just pray that we would have eyes and hearts that are open to the possibilities for kingdom service as God continues to place them in front of us.
Caitlin: Here’s a fun one for you. What is your favorite kind of pizza?
Stacy: Buddy’s Pizza is a pizzeria in the metro-Detroit area. They have the best pizza! Since I was born and raised in Detroit I think it’s only fitting that my favorite pizza is called “the Detroiter”. It’s just a pepperoni and cheese pizza, but it’s delicious! Come visit and we can share a Detroiter!