Jeff Loberger (MLC 2003) believes that good schools begin with good leaders.
As a leader at Good Shepherd-Omaha, he wears a number of leadership hats, but, interestingly, not one of them says “Classroom Teacher.”
“I spend my day as principal of our school, development director of our building program, and member ministry director of our congregation,” he explains.
It’s an unconventional, forward-thinking calling that Jeff’s congregation has given him, but then again, Good Shepherd-Omaha is a forward-thinking congregation. And God has certainly blessed their efforts. In Jeff’s first two years there, the school has grown from 68 to 101 students. When some other WELS schools are closing due to low enrollments, Good Shepherd is turning students away due to lack of space—thus, the vision for the addition of classroom and office space, along with updated bathrooms, additional parking, and, further down the road, a new sanctuary.
“We are praying this building project will help us to add more families in our school and church family, thus exposing many more to this wonderful peace we have through God’s Word,” Jeff says.
To accommodate the growth, the faculty of five teachers, which, in 2008, many thought might need to be reduced to four, has now grown to 7.5.
As one of the 7-1/2 teachers, Jeff has the most varied daily schedule. “Every day is different,” he says. “There are days where I am down at city hall filling out documents for waivers and applications for leased parking. The next day, I will be working with various members, discussing gifts and amending wills to give a gift to our building program. The next will be handling discipline of a child or observing one of our classrooms. Sometimes, I get a little of all three of these during the day.”
With so many avenues for leadership, it was important to Jeff that he become the best leader he could be. “If I could learn to become a better leader and visionary for my school, this would greatly benefit the children attending our school. Also, I would hopefully be a better resource for my faculty to come to in times of need. Finally, with greater vision and climate in the school, we would become more of an option for our community families when they look to enroll in quality schools.”
In 2008, while he was serving in Salt Lake City, the desire to be a better leader led him to begin his master’s coursework with a leadership emphasis. He notes that the WELSSA accreditation process and the encouragement of the Salt Lake City congregation were catalysts as well. He will finish the program in 2012 or, if he completes a second emphasis, in 2013.
He says the program has made a dramatic impact: “This program has completely changed who I am and how I operate. I have been a principal for eight years. Since enrolling in this program, I have learned so many practical things to help with time management to classroom observation to curriculum mapping to handling issues with families. These benefits are seen by my wife, who has been by my side the whole way through. She can see the confidence in my way of running and handling school issues.”
Jeff began his ministry as an emergency teacher at Nebraska Lutheran High School (2001-2002). He taught at Immanuel-Hadar NE (2003-2006) and Prince of Peace-Salt Lake City (2006-2008) before being called to Good Shepherd. In his spare time, he enjoys playing men’s league basketball, camping, watching a good comedy, reading nonfiction books about World War II, and spending time with his wife and children.
He humbly admits that he has the gift of gab—and lots of opportunities to use that gift in his many leadership roles. “God has given me the ability to talk! I have no problem talking to anyone, anywhere about our school and church. I get to talk with community families, sharing with them the opportunities they could have attending a parochial school where Jesus is the center of everything we do. I get to help people understand the blessing of giving to church (particularly the building program) and the opportunities this giving will have on our ministry of being able to reach many more people who need to hear the Word. I get the privilege of helping current members find something they want to do to help grow the ministry. I get to see the smiles on their faces during times where they now feel part of what we do here.”
Finally, Jeff notes that leadership is tied to ministry. And ministry is ultimately about souls. “Everyone who is privileged to serve in the public ministry is in it for the souls we serve each day. As we serve, we need to remember we can best serve if we keep up with the changes in standards and techniques that are unique to each generation. As we continue to improve in our methods and strategies as teachers, we will ultimately be improving the output of the children and families we serve.”
And of the many blessings God has bestowed on Good Shepherd-Omaha, Jeff humbly says, “It makes me realize that the Lord can use someone like myself for the benefit of his kingdom. ”
(Article written by Laurie Gauger)