Journeys Lutheran Invests in the Future

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For 62 years, the school now known as Journeys Lutheran School in Hales Corners has been providing high-quality education for students with learning difficulties. Established by the South Wisconsin District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Journeys has had locations in Milwaukee, Mequon, Glendale, Greendale and Hales Corners over the years, with a number of different names to go along with the different addresses.

But while the name, size and location of the school have changed over the years, what hasn’t changed is the school’s commitment to preparing students with unique learning challenges to realize their full educational, social and spiritual potential.

Journeys has faced some difficulties over the years — at one point in the 1980s, supporters in the Missouri Synod community needed to raise $10,000 over the course of just 90 days to balance the budget and keep the doors open — but the future now looks secure well into the future.

Students at Journeys will have new opportunities and smaller class sizes when they return to school this fall, thanks in large part to the increased funding for Wisconsin’s school choice programs passed earlier this year.

School Choice Wisconsin and its coalition partners led the way to help secure a record funding increase in per student funding earlier this summer that narrowed the gap between choice and public school students.

For Journeys Lutheran, a school focused on providing specialized education for students with special learning needs, the increased funding will allow leaders to offer a reduced class size from 12 to eight students for their new program. Journeys Lutheran has roughly 100 students, including 80 percent who are eligible for the Special Needs Scholarship Program and the remaining 20 percent in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program. Each classroom is staffed with a teacher as well as a part-time or full-time teacher’s aid. The school also offers counseling and therapy sessions for students in a newly renovated therapy wing. All together, Journeys programs cost more than $22,000 per student per year.

“All of our programs are quite expensive, and the increased funding for the choice programs will go a long way to ensuring our students get the kind of individualized attention they need,” said Journeys Lutheran Principal Jenny Stollenwerk.

The school is also adding a Makers’ Lab for their high school students to provide opportunities to learn hands-on skills in the trades, which will include 3-D printers and specialized technology.

“Some of our students with lower independent skills were having trouble making the adjustment from middle school to high school. We think that with smaller class sizes and a specialized curriculum, we will be in a better position to make sure all our students are put in the best position possible to succeed in the classroom now and in their communities after they graduate,” Jenny said.

With the long-term certainty of stable, significant funding, Journeys Lutheran has plans to continue to grow and add to its program offerings to help as many students as possible for years to come.


Do you have a story about how increased voucher spending is helping your school? Are you adding staff or seats, taking care of deferred cap-x projects, starting new programs or doing something else unique? Share your story here.

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