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Answering the call for WELS teachers

Lisa Chamberlain did not expect to become a WELS teacher, but God had other plans for her. Multiple vocations in her career and family have led and prepared her to answer God’s call to teach. Lisa is just one of many who have responded to the teacher shortage in WELS.

While Lisa considered teaching as a career, she decided to get her degree in journalism instead. She enlisted in the army after graduation because it was challenging to find a job that could support her. She later worked as a journalist full time and also as a freelancer.

When her children were born, Lisa continued freelancing and even homeschooled her children. Lisa enjoyed homeschooling, which prompted her to begin teaching at a Title I school in Houston, Texas, after getting alternative certification to teach.

During this time, Lisa heard about the need for WELS teachers. “When I read about the need last year [in Forward in Christ], I felt like I might be at a spot where I could do that,” says Lisa. “I can go where God wants to put me.” She had the flexibility to move where God calls her and a sense of adventure. This and the encouragement from her pastor and family led her to answer the call for WELS teachers.

She went to her pastor at Abiding Word, Houston, to express her desire to serve. He connected her with the South Central District president. Once her teaching credentials were approved, Lisa received four divine calls: one to teach third grade in Texas and then a few weeks later, three calls from different schools in Milwaukee to teach seventh and eighth grade. After many prayers and deliberation, Lisa accepted the call to serve at St. Philip, Milwaukee.

WELS teacher and students in classroom
Lisa Chamberlain started teaching this year at St. Philip, Milwaukee, Wis. Previously a public school teacher, she decided to serve in a WELS school after hearing about the need for teachers.

While she is presently able to teach at St. Philip, the last step for Lisa is taking six theology courses through Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., over a period of time to be fully certified as a WELS teacher.

While this is Lisa’s ninth year teaching, with all the transitions between schools and her personal life, the new school year has brought some challenges. Thankfully, Lisa is not alone. She says, “I have to pray daily. [God] led me to take a call and [he’s] going to give me the strength to serve it.”

Lisa’s favorite parts about being at St. Philip are teaching God’s Word and attending chapel. Being able to share her faith each day is a blessing, especially because she was not able to speak as openly about her faith when she taught in a public school. “Not only is it known that I am praying for my students, but we pray every day. And on top of that I get to teach religion,” says Lisa. “[My students] seem to listen and care and they pray, and that’s awesome.”

Lisa is not the only teacher who has answered the call for WELS teachers. According to Jim Rademan, director of WELS Lutheran Schools, over the past two years 219 WELS members with education degrees from places other than Martin Luther College have accepted provisional calls and are now serving in WELS schools across the country.

With many teachers retiring and classroom enrollments rising, there still is a need for more called workers. But exciting opportunities are also ahead.

“WELS schools are needing to manage the opportunities the Lord is placing before us. There appears to be so many opportunities for growth of a school or opening of a school,” says Rademan. “More and more families are saying, ‘I want my kids to hear about Jesus and get those Christian values.’ ”

If you are a WELS member with an education degree who is interested in serving at a WELS school, contact WELS Lutheran Schools, [email protected].

Author: Nicole Tessmer
Volume: 110, Number 11
Issue: November 2023

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