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Elementary Teachers and Early Childhood Directors

The synod’s preference is that men and women qualify themselves as elementary school teachers and early childhood directors by graduating from Martin Luther College (MLC). However, because not all elementary school teachers and early childhood directors are graduates of MLC, these certification guidelines developed by the Conference of Presidents (COP) of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod seek to establish an adequate standard of teacher training that will ensure proficiency in carrying out the aims and objectives of WELS elementary schools and early childhood centers. These guidelines set standards that are readily attainable by those who, by conviction, desire to teach in WELS elementary schools and/or serve as early childhood directors. Finally, these guidelines also make it possible to carry out an orderly program of inservice training for teachers who are rendering a needful and valuable service in our schools but who have not yet fulfilled certification requirements.

I. Definitions

A. Certified Teacher  Graduates of Martin Luther College (MLC), of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), and of other seminaries of church bodies in fellowship with the WELS become certified teachers upon recommendation for a regular call into the teaching ministry. Others who have met the requirements for certification as outlined in these guidelines are certified by action of the COP.

B. Uncertified Teacher  A teacher who has not met the requirements for certification as outlined in these guidelines.

C. Regular Call  A call which is extended to a synodically certified teacher.

D. Provisional Call  A call which is subject to annual renewal and is extended to a teacher who qualifies for admission into the synodical elementary teacher certification program. Evidence of satisfactory progress toward certification is required for renewal.

E. Satisfactory Progress  Completing one course per calendar year.


II. Requirements for Certification

A. Eligibility for Entrance

        The certification program shall be open to persons who

a) currently hold a call to a congregation, or

b) are graduates in elementary education from a school other than MLC or WLS, currently hold a teaching license and

c) are in fellowship with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.


B. Courses

Graduates of schools other than Martin Luther college (Studies in Educational Ministry) and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary who wish to become certified shall have the requisite academic training and shall meet the certification requirements outlined below. The courses, and the sequence in which courses are taken, shall be determined in consultation with the Director of Synod Certification. Substitution of courses requires prior approval. Graduates from other colleges are required to complete a minimum of six credits of course work through MLC. These six credits could be taken on the MLC campus, at off-campus sites, through distance learning, or online.


1. Religion  18 semester credits in the following prescribed courses or approved substitutes:

a. THE1001 Biblical History & Lit I  3 cr

b. THE1002 Biblical History & Lit II 3 cr

c. THE2001 Biblical History & Lit III 3 cr

d. THE3001 Christian Doctrine I 3 cr

e. THE3002 Christian Doctrine II 3 cr

f.  THE4001 Lutheran Confessional Writings** 3 cr

**normally taken after 12 semester credits in religion have been earned

2. Christian Education  6 semester credits in the following prescribed courses and a practical experience in a WELS elementary school.

a. EDU9540 Principles of Christian Education 3 cr

b. EDU3215 Teaching Religion 3 cr

c. Student Teaching***

***A five-week student teaching experience in a WELS elementary school to be arranged on an individual basis.  This experience should be pre-approved by the Director of Synod Certification. It may take place in the teacher’s own classroom.

 Congregations are encouraged to assume the cost of credits for certification of their teachers.

III. Procedures for Obtaining Certified Status

A. Information

        Teachers who seek certified status shall write for information to the Synod Certification Program:

Dr. John Meyer
Synod Certification Program
1995 Luther Court
New Ulm, MN  56073
Telephone:  507-354-8221 ext 398
Fax:  507-354-8225


B. Enrollment into the Program

1. Application for admission into the program shall be made to the Synod Certification Program, which shall be responsible for acceptance of applicants into the program.

2. Applicants must submit official transcripts of credits for all work done at colleges other than MLC.

3. Applicants must submit a copy of their placement file (student teaching recommendations), which should be requested from the placement office of the college from which they graduated. Applicants who are presently teaching may substitute a recommendation from a recent or current supervisor of instruction.

4. Applicants must submit a testimonial of good moral character signed by their pastor. Applicants currently teaching in the WELS under a provisional call must also submit a letter of validation from their principal.


C. Pursuing the Program

1. It is preferable that all course work be taken on the MLC campus. 

2. Courses for certification credit may be taken through the MLC’s summer session, satellite courses and online courses.

3. Certification course work must be completed within six years after acceptance into the program or acceptance of a provisional call, whichever comes first.

4. Those who are currently called will maintain their provisional certification by completing a minimum of one three-credit course per year.

5. Neither acceptance into the certification program nor successful completion of the requirements assures one of a call into the teaching ministry. The credentials of all such persons are given to those WELS officials who are responsible for providing congregations with lists of qualified candidates from which to call a teacher for an existing vacancy.


D. Eligibility for Certification

1. A student must earn at least a C grade in all courses taken in the certification program.

2. Upon an enrollee’s successful completion of this program, a recommendation for certification shall be made by MLC to the COP. If an enrollee is teaching with a provisional call at the time of completion, the enrollee’s pastor and principal must concur with the recommendation; in other cases the enrollee’s pastor must concur.


IV. Responsibility for Certification

        The COP shall act on all recommendations for certification and shall notify all concerned of its decisions.