When Ryan Finkbeiner became principal of Mt. Lebanon four years ago, students were struggling. Mr. Finkbeiner recalls, “We were the lowest performing WELS choice school in Milwaukee.” It was evident that change needed to take place. Since then, strong leadership with dedicated staff and families, together with hard-working students and the power of the Holy Spirit, have transformed Mt. Lebanon into a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction five-star rated school that “significantly exceeds expectations.”
Part of this transformation was new curriculum and an improved reading and resource center funded by Siebert. “Siebert believed in us and its grant provided us with the resources to equip our teachers with curricular materials and training,” said Mr. Finkbeiner. The curriculum Mt. Lebanon implemented was “Project Lead the Way,” a premier robust and project-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program. The new curriculum, combined with the perseverance and commitment of teachers, fueled success that led to improved student performance.
"We are teaching students to refine their God-given gifts and talents so they can continue to grow beyond their Mt. Lebanon foundation."
Mt. Lebanon called upon teacher Faith Schroeder to implement Project Lead the Way and it has been an opportunity to learn and grow together. “At first I tried to be the expert,” said Ms. Schroeder, “But then I realized it’s better for the students and I to learn this new curriculum alongside each other, taking time to reflect on both the learning and teaching process.” As students begin to see their academic improvement through MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) scores, they start to think, “Look what I can do,” and it motivates them to work harder.
Mr. Finkbeiner adds that project-based learning equips students with more than just science and social studies skills. Being a team member and working well with others are skills to last a lifetime. “We are teaching students to refine their God-given gifts and talents so they can continue to grow beyond their Mt. Lebanon foundation.”
However, more noticeable than academic transformation, is the spiritual shift in students. Mr. Finkbeiner sees that “the Holy Spirit is softening hearts and reminding kids that they are disciples, heirs, and leaders. We are blessed as teachers to see the kids realize this and literally feel Christ’s love through this transformation.”