Instructors and Coaches

Dr. Leslie Smith

Dr. Leslie Smith

Course 1: Leading A Successful School in the 21st Century

Dr. Smith holds a Doctorate in Education from Pepperdine University’s prestigious Organizational Leadership program; her dissertation analyzed the relationship between mindset and psychological well-being among high achieving, college-bound students at private, Christian high schools.

Under her leadership, enrollment grew to record numbers at Red Hill Lutheran Elementary and Middle School in Tustin, California and at Orange Lutheran High School, the largest Lutheran High School in the country.

Dr. Smith has been a private school educator for more than 30 years. Not only has she been widely recognized for her research, visionary perspective, and strong servant leadership — she’s walked in your shoes and teaches from experience.

Scott Fogo, M.S.

Scott Fogo, M.S.

Course 2: Leading Academic Excellence

R. Scott Fogo is serving in a new position leading four Lutheran schools in Texas as the Executive Director of the Lutheran Education Association of Houston (LEAH).

Most recently, Scott served as the High School Principal at Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School, the largest private school in Nevada and largest Lutheran School in the United States.  Scott designed Faith Lutheran’s Academy System, an Honors Institute, and the Faith Lutheran Conservatory of the Fine Arts. In 2016, Scott was honored as The Principal of the Year by the Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. From 2014-2018, Scott served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Lutheran Secondary Schools, the final two years as President.

Scott is currently enrolled as a doctoral student in Grand Canyon University’s Organizational Leadership program. His qualitative case study will explore the ways that blended learning high school educators facilitate interactions that promote learning in the zone of proximal development. His goal is to launch multiple blended learning high schools in the next 15 years, so that more students and families can learn about Jesus.

Dr. Don Hendricks

Dr. Don Hendricks

Course 3: Strengthening and Managing School Finances

Don taught at Concordia University Chicago in the Leadership Department as an adjunct and full-time professor for the last 15 years, where his courses have included: School Finance, School Law for Public and Private Schools and Human Resources.

Dr. Hendricks is currently working with the Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation, where he was involved in the creation of the Medallion Program for School Excellence which helps Chicago Lutheran schools expand their effectiveness.

Currently, Don is mentoring four Lutheran school principals and is actively involved with the leadership training of Lutheran school administrators.

Michale Welch (Team Teaching)

Michale Welch (Team Teaching)

Course 4: Recruitment, Retention, and Marketing

Mike has been a Board member of the Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation since 2001, serving as President on three separate occasions and as Treasurer through two periods. He was part of the team that developed the original Pathways to Excellence program and has served as a Coach for three principals since the Pathways program was launched more than four years ago. He was also a part of the team that developed the Principal 360 program. 

Mike’s experience as a corporate attorney and manager, a business school professor, a member of the St. James Board of Christian Education and a member of the CLEF Board for nearly 20 years has given him a deep appreciation of the needs of Lutheran schools and of the way those needs can be met in light of the demands of 21st century education. Mike believes there’s a very strong correlation between the leadership and strategic thinking skills of a Lutheran school Principal and the success of that school.

Stacey Walter (Team Teaching)

Stacey Walter (Team Teaching)

Course 4: Recruitment, Retention, and Marketing

She’s served at Faith Community Lutheran Church & Schools in Las Vegas since 2006. As the Director of Admissions and Retention for Faith Lutheran Academy and Human Resource Director for the church and schools, she recruits students and faculty/staff that form the body of Faith Community Lutheran. 

Stacey says her favorite part of the day is speaking with families about Faith Lutheran Academy’s pillars of excellence (Faith in Jesus, Loving Relationship and Academic Excellence) and how they will partner together for the development of the child.

Mychal Thom

Mychal Thom

Course 5: Innovation in the Lutheran School

Mychal began his teaching career at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Pontiac, MI, before moving on to Muskegon Community College. After just a year, he was hired as Principal of St. John Lutheran School in Rochester, Mich.

In the spring of 2009, he was selected Head of School for Lutheran High North. After three years of service in Houston, in 2012, Mr. Thom was called to the Principal position at Concordia, only the tenth Principal of the high school. And in 2016, he became Head of School. In 2021, Mychal accepted the position and now serves as Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Dean of Academic Innovation at Concordia University St. Paul.

In addition, Mychal served as a professional speaker for Making It Count Inc., traveling to high schools to speak to students about making good decisions regarding college.

Mary Irish

Mary Irish

Coach

From a faith-based school perspective, Mary’s seen all the promise and problems. She taught second grade at  Emmanuel Lutheran School in Aurora, Illinois, then moved on to Elm Grove Lutheran School in Elm Grove, Wisconsin where she taught first grade. Then it was on to grades five through eight at Our Redeemer Lutheran School in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

In 1998, Mary began her administrative work at Our Redeemer Lutheran School, first as Vice Principal through 2003 and School Principal from 2003-2017.

Mary brings all this additional experience to her role as a Principal 360 Coach:

  • LCMS SLED Management Team (2000-Present)
  • NLSA Accreditation Team Member
  • Trainer, LCMS School Mission Team – Concordia, Palmar Arriba, Dominican Republic
  • Presenter at LEA, State Teachers’ Conferences, and District Teacher’s Conventions
  • Writing/Presentation Team Member – LCMS Leadership With Purpose Program
  • JOSHUA Presentation Team – CUNE and CUW
Albert Amling

Albert Amling

Coach

Albert finds great joy in being a Christian, husband, father and grandfather.  He serves role God’s church through serving in various committees, specifically on salary committees, Superintendent's cabinet as well as leading the formation of the Teacher of the Year Program currently in place in South Wisconsin. He served LEA as a member of the 1993, 2013 and 2022 LEA Convocations in Milwaukee.  He currently serves at Hales Corners Lutheran Church as well as the Education Exec in the English District. 

Albert’s been involved with mentoring young leaders throughout the country through the SLED and Principal 360.  Locally, he serves Journeys Lutheran School as a member of the Board of Directors.  Internationally he serves on the Education Board of Mission Experience, which is in the process of starting a school for its orphanage in Haiti. Albert enjoys has traveling to Haiti and Slovakia on mission trips with his church.

Mary Beth Gaertner

Mary Beth Gaertner

Coach

Mary Beth is an Ohio native, graduated from University of Houston as a speech pathologist, Sam Houston State as a certified teacher with early childhood endorsements, and a doctorate in educational administration from California Coast. She taught in the public schools, public universities and at Salem Lutheran School in Tomball, Texas as the early childhood founder and director and then as the director of the day school grades kindergarten through eighth grade for the past 41 years.

She is most proud of obtaining National Blue Ribbon School status in 2007, and National Distinguished Principal by NAESP in 2012. Authored a book about establishing positive relationships between parents and teachers called Way to Go in 2011. Now a decade into research, it is used by hundreds of schools, both public and private. Serves as an educational consultant and trainer for Way to Go and on the boards of Upbring and Concordia University Texas. Married for 50 years to Dean, two married daughters and 6 precious grandchildren, all who have been blessed to be a part of our Lutheran School systems.

Dr. Rebecca Schmidt

Dr. Rebecca Schmidt

Coach

Dr. Rebecca Schmidt recently retired from The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) where she served as the Associate Director of School Ministry (2014-In a) and as Director of School Ministry (2018-2022). Serving over 1,850 schools in 35 LCMS districts, Rebecca provided support and oversight for the development of resources for district, congregation and school leaders serving in LCMS early childhood, elementary and secondary schools. During this time, she also served as the Director of the School Leadership Development (SLED) project and the National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA) program.

Rebecca holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a focus in Educational Leadership and Supervision. Additionally, she holds a BA and MA from Michigan State University and Colloquy from Concordia University in Ann Arbor.

Her professional experience includes serving as an early childhood educator and director, followed by service as a principal in preschool – grade 8 schools in Michigan, Arkansas, and Missouri.

She has served with the national Council of American Private Education (CAPE) as a board member in Washington D.C, the Van Lunen Fellows executive management program in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Lutheran Education Association (LEA) in Chicago, Illinois.