History of Trinity Lutheran School:
A School for the Congregation
1889 - 1930
Trinity Lutheran Church has enjoyed the benefits of a Christian Day School since 1889. Although there is no actual record of the founding of the school, a "Chronik" that was inserted into the congregation's minutes for 1889 states that Pastor Spannuth "brought to life a school for the congregation" in 1888. Furthermore, the minutes indicate that Pastor Meyer, who arrived in the fall of 1888, served as the school teacher in addition to his other duties. Apparently the only interruptions in the school's history occurred in 1896 and again in 1944 when its regular curriculum was temporarily replaced by Saturday afternoon religion classes. The school in it's early years employed only one teacher up until 1930. Enrollments during the first fifty years frequently reached forty or more.
For most of its first decade, classes were held in a variety of locations. In 1894 the congregation authorized Mr. Baden to rent a school room, after having utilized the parsonage, the church, and a room at St. John's College for classroom purposes. Four years later the trustees were empowered to obtain some lots and make plans for the construction of a school building. Several lots at 7th and Cherry, purchased at a cost of $225, served as the site for a frame building that housed the school for over thirty years.
First School Building (ca. 1898-1930) at 7th & Cherry
Second School Building
A new brick structure on the same property, funded partly by a large donation from John Meier, was dedicated on September 28, 1930. Two teachers were then employed to service the student population from the 30s until late 1950s. Increasing enrollment numbers (70) in 1959 prompted modifications of the basement of the school for a third teacher to be employed in 1959. That year the school offered school from first to eighth grade.
The building was later sold as a private dwelling after the school moved into its present facilities at 9th & Mound on October 26-27, 1962.
Second School Building (1930-1962) at 7th & Cherry
Current School Facility
The current school facility was integrated into the church campus when plans were formulated for the church in 1961. The school currently enrolled first through eighth grades. Increasing enrollments during the period of 1962 to 1988 made it necessary to rearrange some of the space for classroom purposes on the second floor of the educational unit. The school expanded it's offerings for the younger children in the church and the community by adding a Kindergarten in 1969, followed by a Pre-school in 1980 that was to be "financially self-supporting." The teaching staff from the 90's up until 2018 consisted of three full time teachers and two on a half-time basis. This was consistent with most congregations that sponsored Lutheran Day Schools. Trinity as of 2020 employs 4 full time and one part-time teacher.
In the fall of 1982, the congregation approved Phase 1 of an expansion program that anticipated continued growth in the years ahead. This called for the remodeling of the large Youth Room on the second floor into a classroom for grades seven and eight. With this change, it became possible to move the Kindergarten and Pre-school into some of the first floor space.
Current School Building at 9th & Mound (1962-Present)
Faculty & Staff at Trinity Lutheran School
Since 1889, Trinity congregation has employed approximately 102 teachers. The great majority were women, most of whom remained only three years or less. At times members of the congregation held this position, as did Mrs. Oscar Moeckel in 1895. At least two pastors, Meyer and Werling, also served as teachers for several years of their local ministry. J.H. Krampien added a great deal of stability to the school during his fifteen years at St. Martin's . His successful tenure, however, was brought to an abrupt end in 1916 when the congregation had to discontinue his services for financial reasons. Herbert Herpolsheimer left in 1933 for the same reason. It was not until the arrival of Estelle Fritz in 1945 that another teacher remained at the school for more than five years. Many of the teachers during the 1930-60 period were graduates of St. John's Parish Worker or Teacher Education programs.
Although financial support apparently was a significant factor, available space was even more critical limiting the numbers of teachers that were employed in a given year.
1970-72- Trinity Teachers : Left to Right
Mrs. Janelle Reiner, Kindergarten; Miss Linda Rathjen, Grds. 1-2;
Mrs. Margaret Johns, Pastor's Secretary; Mrs. Betty Kruse, Grds. 3-5
In 1957, a principal was called. The first person to hold that position since the 1930's. Eugene Wiegman served in this capacity for two years; he was followed by Gary Clayton (1961-67)
Mark Schotte (1991-2019), At the end of 2018-2019, Mark Schotte had served as Trinity's principal/teacher for 28 years, the longest for any of the men to hold that office. When asked about his greatest challenge at Trinity, he indicated that it was the need to share the benefits of the school with the community. As for his greatest joy, it was being able to work with Jesus' lambs on a daily basis.
Interim Principal Jane Limback (2018-2020)
Richard Bicker (1981-88), Mervin Munster (1988-90), vacancy (1990-1991)
Darold Reiner (1967-71), Delmer Mau (1971-81)
Chris Dehning (2021-Present)
For most of the school's history, enrollment has been limited to pupils in grades one through six. In addition to several earlier short-term periods, grades seven and eight were offered again between 1959 and 1988 for their last and longest appearance at Trinity. The school has expanded its offerings for the younger children in the church and the community by adding a Kindergarten in 1969, followed by a Pre-school in 1980 that was to be "financially self-supporting". The teaching staff numbered three full time teachers and two on a half-time basis in 2000. It now supports 4 full time and one half-time teacher in 2020.
Church considers the Christian education of its children to be an integral part of its overall mission. The congregation therefore has borne the major share of the financial resources necessary for its operation. Children of non-members have usually been charged tuition in order to attend. Up until 1910, members were also charged tuition, the amount ranging between 50 cents and a $1.50 per month. Tuition rates for residents of the Lutheran Children's Home have varied. In 1927 each child was $2.00 per month; in 1933 the Home was asked to pay a flat fee of $35.00 per month or $25.00 plus room and board for one of the teachers. For many years, children from the Home constituted an important part of the school's enrollment. During the 1920's and 30's, they frequently accounted for about one-half; by 1955 the proportion had decreased to less than one-fifth.
In 2000, tuition charges for members as well as non-members represent only a portion of the congregation's total expense, which is about $4,000 per pupil. Another source of income from 1957-1986 included assistance form the college in the form of subsidies in return for use of the school as a part of the college's teacher education program.
Significant support is provided by Trinity's Parent Teacher League, an auxiliary organization whose purpose is to foster and promote the educational program of the school. By means of fundraisers such as nut sales, book fairs and carnivals, the group has been able to provide computers for each classroom, interactive screens, playground equipment, library materials and other educational resources.
Over the years, many developments and changes to attract students from the community include the organization of a marketing committee, tuition incentive program, new classroom configuration with home rooms and departmental instruction, after school care, and more recently multiple Pre-school attendance options and virtual learning for the upper grades due to health and safety concerns during the pandemic.
In the past, Trinity students have participated in community outreach programs such as fundraisers for local charities, annual musical to which the community is invited, groups that sing at local nursing and Veterans homes, and active participation in the city and county spelling bees.
Just as the congregation has been observing its own anniversaries, so has the school. A series of appropriate events were planned to celebrate its centennial in 1988. For its 115th anniversary in 2003, an alumni committee scheduled a reunion of former students and a dinner featuring a pictoral history of the school.