Forest Park’s Walther Academy and Walther Lutheran High School in Melrose Park will strengthen their long partnership with Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, the two schools announced, just in time for National Lutheran Schools Week, which began Sunday.

“We’ve had this great partnership with Concordia since [Walther Academy] began five years ago,” said Principal Kathy Craven. “They help us with teacher aids, student teachers, tutoring, education students performing their pre-professional hours for the state.”

Under the new partnership, Concordia will provide more teachers and resources to Walther Academy. Walther Lutheran High School will offer dual-credit courses.

One example of the partnership has been the work of Assistant Professor Lorinda Sankey, who wrote and shepherded through a grant to help Walther Academy teachers computerize state-mandated Response-to-Intervention (RTI) software. The RTI program allows teachers to craft and monitor individual education plans for students who might need extra help. The grant, funded by Concordia, trained teachers in the software, said Craven. Concordia hosts teacher in-services for Walther educators, she added.

Concordia’s School of Education “brings current educational trends and methodology into our program,” Craven said. Smartboards, student Macbook laptops and a good relationship with technology trend-setters at Concordia keep the school up to date. “The students create integrated blogs, projects, movies and podcasts,” she said. “Concordia students also provide tutoring to bring our teacher-student ratios down.”

Walther Academy was opened following the disbanding of St. John School at 305 Circle Ave. in 2008. The school works as a feeder school for Walther Lutheran High School. “At least 50 percent of our eighth-graders go on to WLHS, sometimes more,” said Craven, whose husband, Jim, is principal at Walther Lutheran. Kathy Craven attended St. John School as a child and her parents were Concordia professors.

“We view this as a ministry,” she said. “We provide a Christian education all the way through college. We meet the needs of families here from all walks of life.” The school has 84 students, pre-school to eighth grade and offers extended day care and summer camps. “Even though it’s a Lutheran school, it’s open to students of every faith,” said Craven. Tuition for grades K-8 is $4,850 per year. Financial aid is available. The school will host an open house on March 18 between 1 and 3 p.m.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...