As Gloria Dei Lutheran School nears the end of their current school year, they show no signs of slowing in their mission to foster community through education and worship. Located in Hampton, VA, Gloria Dei has served as an educational ministry of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church for 43 years.
From the start Gloria Dei has excelled in providing its students opportunities to grow academically and spiritually. The hallmark of the school is its ministry that surrounds families, teachers, students and staff.
Linda Robinson, Principal of Gloria Dei Lutheran School, is a proud champion of the ministry her school has created over years, sharing that she finds her school lives and breaths the proverb “it takes a village”, and the Gloria Dei village is one unlike any other.
“We are rather unique in that we are a church that has a school, and so we do consider our whole school program to be a ministry of the church,” Principal Robinson explained of the school’s Christian learning environment.
Senior Pastor and Headmaster Dr. Charles Bang as well as Associate Pastor Dr. Phyllis Milton serve as a bridge between Gloria Dei’s ministry within church and school. Pastor Milton is an especially recognizable face within the school as she leads students in Chapel. Gloria Dei’s ministry serves as both an expression of God’s loving care and an example of how education and childcare are best implemented.
The impact of ministry noticeably makes a difference in every aspect of the school.
Principal Robinson said, “We’re told over and over by families that tour our school that when they walk in the door there is a feeling of peace and happiness, and they feel welcome. In today’s society people are really looking for that.”
For the teachers and staff at Gloria Dei, their position is not simply a job to them, but a personal ministry in education with a foundation in the teachings of the church
“I think our teachers have a different mindset in the way they interact with the world, and in how they care for others.” Principal Robinson said.
It’s this mentality that makes all the difference in creating ties that last between students and staff far beyond the classroom.
Gloria Dei Lutheran School serves a wide range of students, from preschoolers all the way through 8th graders readying themselves for the transition to high school. Making a change from middle school to high school can be challenging for anyone, but moving away from a school community that a student has known, potentially since preschool age, is something else entirely.
The teachers and staff at Gloria Dei rise to this challenge year after year, working in partnership with parents to find the best fit for what’s next for each and every graduating 8th grader.
“We’re very open with parents about their choices, and usually parents will narrow it down to a couple of schools and receive input from teachers and staff on what do we feel is the best for their children,” the school also works hard to put parents in contact with former Gloria Dei students and their families that are now enrolled in area high schools.
“That gives parents a chance to find someone to talk to and to answer any questions about how their child adjusted, as well as what the school is like.” Students and families are guided through this big transition with the continued support and community of Gloria Dei surrounding them.
The bond between student and school remains long after students depart. Principle Robinson shared that it’s not uncommon for graduated students of Gloria Dei to return during big school events such as the school’s Christmas programs. With these homecomings bring hugs between former students and teachers, and a reunion to a school where spirituality and education work hand in hand.
The village of Gloria Dei Lutheran School is one that will live on well after students and teachers depart for the summer. The strong academic base and spiritual foundation each student receives at Gloria Dei is carried in students’ hearts and minds for their lifetime. For the current 8th grade class there is assurance that in the years following graduation they will always be welcomed back into the halls and classrooms of Gloria Dei with open arms.