In May, 1996, member Lutheran churches in the Westminster Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America met to explore the possibility of establishing a Christian school. A series of discussions ensued that summer about why a school should be created and what it could accomplish. Then, in September, 1996, a vision/mission statement was adopted for a Lutheran school and a feasibility study followed. By December, 1997, a Lutheran school was deemed both feasible and necessary and a commitment to move forward was made. A Charter and Constitution were developed in February, 1998 and the first Board of Directors assumed leadership in July, 1998. By the fall of 1998, the curriculum from Bethlehem Lutheran School in Baltimore was selected. St. Benjamin’s Lutheran Church was chosen as the school location and Erin Porter Mullinix was hired as the school administrator in 1999. Later in 1999, the school was legally established as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit educational corporation.
On September 5, 2000, a ribbon-cutting ceremony opened the doors of Carroll Lutheran School and fulfilled a dream, with three teachers, a part-time secretary, and 38 students in kindergarten through third grade. As planned, the school began in classroom space of St. Benjamin’s Lutheran Church.
Building upon the strengths of its first year of operation, the growth of the school progressed from 2001 through 2005:
In a pivotal session, the Board of Directors met in retreat in November, 2001 to set one, three, and five-year plans. A commitment to continue to add a grade per year was apparent. It also was obvious that the current facilities at St. Benjamin’s Lutheran Church did not provide adequate space for continued growth. As discussion and planning continued after the retreat, the vision of our own school of approximately 200 students in kindergarten through eighth grade began to take shape. The target date of September, 2005 for completion of a new school was set.
A plan was initially floated to build a school adjacent to St. Benjamin’s Lutheran Church; however, as the Expansion Committee and Board continued to explore the options, an agreement was made to purchase 60 acres of property in Frizzellburg, two and a half miles from the church. The school was blessed to have a core group of parents, staff, and volunteers who dedicated countless hours to bring the expansion project to its fruition. In January, 2007, the new facility opened to serve the people of Carroll County and the surrounding areas.
The opening of our new facility spurred further growth, such that most of the K-5 classes were full, some with waiting lists, by the 2008-2009 school year. Despite the economic downturn and because of community and church support, we have continued to offer an affordable Christian education and to experience growth, to approximately 135 students for 2009-2010.
We started off the 2009 School Year with the dedication of our new Outdoor Classroom building, built near our wetlands area through a very generous grant from Thrivent Foundation. All are excited about the possibilities of exploring the natural sciences as part of our academic curriculum and in club activities. We also continue to be blessed with extraordinary partnerships with area churches who support us in various ways, such as the sponsoring of Pastor Anne Dentry in her work with students and teachers in implementing the new Faith Studies curriculum. We continue to look forward to the development of the school in keeping with the Mission and the needs of the community, both within the school and beyond.
It is evident through its annual growth that Carroll Lutheran School is meeting a need in the community for a school that offers quality education in a Christian environment. In addition to the use of a proven curriculum and excellent texts, the school has had administrators who conduct quarterly program and teacher observations. Local and visiting Pastors lead chapel services twice a month so that students, staff, and families may gather in prayer and worship. The enthusiasm of teachers, staff, and families is what truly sets Carroll Lutheran School apart from others. Whether it’s a service project with Carroll Lutheran Village seniors, packing boxes for Operation Christian Child, or the St. Jude Math-a-thon, the children are continuously engaged in activities that promote learning, service, and Christianity in action.
The Family Partnership Program (FPP) is a dedicated group of parents and other family members who vigorously support the school through fundraising activities such as Basket Bingo, restaurant nights. They fund numerous ongoing service projects and supplemental curriculum opportunities, such as the Mobile Science Lab, and student activities such as Santa’s Secret Shop. The school operates much as a family, with a sense of caring and commitment among all involved. Whether it be a concern for the family of one of our students or a staff member, the school family unites together in support.
Carroll Lutheran School holds a Certificate of Approval from the Maryland State Department of Education. The school is also a recognized school program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association.