At his 2004 graduation, Chris was assigned to Zion-Denver as vice-principal and grades 7-8 teacher. The call expanded to grades 5-8 and principal after a year. In 2008, he accepted a call to Emmaus-Phoenix, where, like many WELS teachers, he wears several hats: He teaches various classes in grades 4-8 and serves as AD, coach, tech coordinator, and youth group leader.
“God has richly blessed me in my ministry,” he says. “I've enjoyed serving in a different role at Emmaus than I served at Zion. In fact, the last three years of not serving as principal—and taking courses through MLC’s master’s program—have allowed me to assess my gifts and helped me recognize how I can best serve my Lord.”
Chris is completing the instruction emphasis in his master’s program. “Continuing my education in the MLC master's program has given me the knowledge and confidence to improve my classroom,” he says. “Education is always changing. If we as teachers aren't continuing to learn and challenge ourselves, our students and their education will suffer. Many of the lessons I've learned in my classes I've been able to implement in my classroom or ministry. I've also been able to support and encourage my colleagues in their continuing education.”
In addition to courses in his emphasis, he’s chosen courses in the other three emphases as well, courses that match his ministry at Emmaus.
One is from the special education emphasis: Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities, taught by Dr. John Juern, child psychologist. “It’s given me a better understanding of my students from a clinical perspective,” Chris says, “helping me to better understand why students are struggling and how to help them.”
Another is from the technology emphasis: Enhancing the Curriculum with Technology, taught by Dr. James Grunwald, MLC. And a third is from the administration emphasis: Curriculum Design and Implementation, taught by Dr. LeDell Plath, retired WELS administrator and principal mentor. This course, Chris says, has helped him bring fresh ideas to the table as the Emmaus staff revises curriculum.
Chris reflects that these duties seem to fit his God-given gifts and interests very well. He loves sports (especially the Brewers and Packers). He likes to dabble with computers (although he admits that his “unofficial tech-guy” status may be based less on his technological gifts and more on his relative youth). And, of course, he loves classroom teaching.
“Because I was a principal right out of college, I wasn't able to give my full attention to my classroom,” he says. “These last few years, it's been nice to give a more dedicated focus to my classroom.”
Chris knows that the Lord has a plan for his ministry, and he believes that being in the MLC master’s program is one way he can prepare himself for future opportunities to serve. “Lord willing,” he says, “I’d like to receive a call to teach high school history someday. The classes I've taken have been a wonderful blessing to my current ministry, and I believe they will help me in the future too.”
Chris began the program in 2009 and hopes to finish in 2013. He’s married to Nikki (Jaeger), and they have two preschool children, Kaden and Kirsten.
What advice does he give to other WELS teachers wondering if the MLC master’s program is right for them? “The master’s program is great. The knowledge that you, as a called worker, will receive is important for your continuing education and the ministry you serve. Yes, it is challenging. There are a lot of assignments and high expectations, but it's worth the effort. God has given you gifts and talents that will be strengthened through this program. The professors have been very helpful and have shared a wealth of information. I've also been able to reconnect with classmates from college and get to know and work with some great teachers that I didn't know before entering this program.”