Students learn to live generously, even in times of hardship

Students at Lutheran South Unity School are learning what it means to live generously by taking the lead on a service project that will benefit school children in Liberia. Students are preparing a 40-foot shipping container, which will be filled with school supplies and used as a classroom when it arrives in Liberia.

Despite financial challenges, the school remains outwardly focused, forging ahead with both local and global service projects, and continuing to impact students of all backgrounds and abilities.

Lutheran South Unity School serves an ethnically diverse group of students who are excited to give back to the global community. With the phoenix as the school mascot—a mythical bird that rises from the ashes—students are reminded what it means to rise above circumstances and soar despite obstacles.

“We try to ingrain in them, no matter how limited your resources, you need to help someone else,” Maurice King, Director of Development at LSUS, says. “No matter how bad you think you have it, there’s someone who has it worse. You have the capacity to give of your time and talent.”

LSUS students are learning by doing. Students in grades five and six are painting the exterior of the shipping container in Liberian school colors, while other grades prepare the interior. The third phase of the project consists of filling the container with donated school supplies, books, desks, chairs, a door and two windows. Home Lumber in New Haven provided the wood resources for the interior conversion. Harris Corporation donated chairs and desks for the project.

LSUS students are learning hands-on math lessons while working on the project, blending academic goals with life lessons about generosity and serving.

Inspired by their phoenix mascot, students are learning about persistence, too. In the past, the school has struggled with ISTEP scores. Last year, though, LSUS students scored much better on the ISTEP — enough to earn their school a B in statewide grading. Testing data showed that students who had historically lagged behind their peers showed remarkable growth, and high-achieving students demonstrated strong proficiency.

Persistence will be key to the school’s future. Currently under consequences for past ISTEP struggles, the school is currently unable to enroll new voucher students. School leaders are focusing on sustaining enrollment with voucher returning students, as well as assisting new students with private scholarships.

“It all ties into what we’re trying to teach the kids. Some come from a background where resources aren’t as plentiful,” Mr. King adds. “We’re teaching them to use the time and talents we have, so we can be a blessing to someone else.”

Once the container project is completed, the pre-fab classroom will be shipped to a Lutheran school in Liberia under the direction of Joe Boway, a Liberian-born Fort Wayne resident who is also a LSUS parent. Boway was instrumental in starting many Christian schools in Liberia, which now serve over 3,500 students.

“Who would have thought our little school would take on a container project and help someone they’ll never see?” King adds.  “Our kids can say, ‘I had a hand in being a blessing to someone on the other side of the globe.’”