“It’s about the academics, but also about the students as a whole,” says Kevin Goetz, head of school at Trinity Lutheran, when asked about the school’s motto, “Building Foundations for Life.” “Our students have a foundation for wherever they’re going next.”
Trinity Lutheran School is a pre-K through eighth grade private school in Newport News. It was established in 1960 as a mission of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Newport News, with its main goals to provide rigorous academics, develop the whole child and to do so within a religious school environment. Goetz emphasizes the school’s dedication to preparing the younger generations during their developmental years for wherever they go later in life. Over the years, the school has grown and now receives students from the entire Virginia Peninsula and reaches as far as Smithfield. The school is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
When asked what makes Trinity Lutheran School different from other schools, Goetz says, “We fit a niche in the community for families who just want something a little different.” Goetz prides himself on the school’s smaller size as it allows for the faculty, staff and students to create a closely knit community. “We know our families,” Goetz says. The school aims to provide a secular academic education to all of its students while simultaneously infusing their experience with religious values. Goetz says that the religious background of the families and students is not important, but their education will offer optional elective classes in religion provided by the school’s pastor, Tina Melusky.
The school integrates its religious values through its chapel service every Wednesday and its monthly “Fruits of the Spirit” celebration. This monthly program encourages students and faculty/staff to focus on a particular Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in the Bible. These Fruits of the Spirit are actions/characteristics that every person should try to take part in or embody in some way. The school’s celebration allows the students and faculty/staff to reflect on how they each exhibit that month’s fruit and how they have shared it with those around them.
Goetz says he has always been a “people person,” having worked at both private and public schools. He came to Trinity Lutheran School because he fell in love with the school’s balance of academics and spiritual/religious growth of the students, as well as the closeness of its community.
Aside from the religious aspect of the Trinity Lutheran School, the school provides a variety of classes and extracurricular activities, organizations to join and even a sports team. The wide array of activities the students take part in during their time at Trinity Lutheran School “molds them into well balanced students skilled in many things, preparing them for whichever high school they decide to attend,” says Goetz.
The school has made a significant effort to adapt to the current health and environmental circumstances. “This has been a tremendous learning curve for everybody,’ says Goetz, “but like many places, we’ve transitioned to online learning.” Even during trying times such as this, the school maintains its close-knit, one-on-one instruction with teachers, individually video-chatting students and hosting class video conferences, as well as continuing to conduct weekly chapel, uploading it to YouTube for students to follow. “Our teachers have jumped two feet into this new digital platform and made it work, says Goetz. “They have done a super job of making things work, recognizing that many of our families are in very different places right now.”
TO THE POINT:
Trinity Lutheran School
Address: 6812 River Rd.,
Newport News, VA 23607
Contact: Kevin Goetz, head of school