Former teacher named leader

Trinity Lutheran High School interim Principal Ben Stellwagen is interim no more.

Stellwagen was installed as the school’s permanent leader during a chapel service Friday morning at the Seymour school.

As Trinity’s former special education coordinator and resource teacher, he stepped up to the administrative role of interim principal at the end of the school year last May after then-principal Dan Sievert announced he was leaving to serve at a Lutheran high school in Norfolk, Nebraska.

It didn’t take long for Stellwagen to realize how much he loved the job.

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“The opportunity to share Trinity’s mission beyond the classroom appealed to me, and I have spent much time meeting members of the community and Trinity supporters,” he said.

Ideas sprung from the many conversations he has had with association pastors, the school board, donors, parents, coaches, volunteers, students and people in the community.

He hoped to be offered the principal job on a long-term basis to “make good” on some of those ideas, he said.

Stellwagen and his family, including wife Laurie, and three children, Judah, Annabelle and Katya have come to love the community and consider Trinity to be “top notch.”

Originally from Wheaton, Illinois, he now lives in Columbus. He has a degree in history and humanities with minors in mathematics and economics from Valparaiso University and received his master’s degree in history from Indiana University. He is currently finishing up his doctorate degree in Russian history.

Before coming to Trinity in 2014, he taught middle school math and physical education at St. Vincent de Paul in Bedford. He also worked as an adjunct professor and associate instructor at IU and at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

“The timing of how I arrived at Trinity made it clear that God had a plan in leading us here, and this position is affirmation that it’s been a great fit,” he said. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead this great group of people at a Christ-centered community of faith and learning.”

Stellwagen said he thanks the Lord for the opportunity to continue his career at Trinity and for having been raised in a Christian home of educators.

This school year has kept Stellwagen busy, and he has learned there is much to do in a growing, Christian-centered high school.

“I find that invigorating,” he said. “But what I’ve enjoyed the most is realizing that, just like in the classroom, being principal is about building relationships. I care deeply about the students here, and it is a great joy to share in their full scope of hard work and successes.”

Stellwagen received a warm and enthusiastic reception from students and faculty when he announced he would be accepting the call to serve as their long-term principal.

“The parent comments have been positive, too, and it’s a wonderful reminder that we are all partners in ministry and education,” he said. “It’s a blessing to work together.”

Growth and increasing enrollment will be the biggest challenge and opportunity for the school in the coming years. More students means more needs for staff, programs, space and funding.

Trinity added Academic Bowl last year, which Stellwagen helped coach, and swimming this year and continues to look for ways to expand curriculum and extra curricular offerings. The importance of involvement in such activities is not only fun and personally rewarding for students, but it also makes them stand out when applying for scholarships and colleges, Stellwagen said.

“Our students are involved in an incredible variety of activities,” he said. “It makes for some sleepy-eyed students at times, but it also develops well-rounded individuals.”

When it comes to leadership, Stellwagen said he strives to be upbeat, has high expectations for students and staff and a broad sense of what’s possible.

As principal, he plans to continue strengthening and expanding curriculum, programming, staffing, fundraising, outreach and marketing for Trinity, he said.

“But most important is to continue delivering our mission of educating, developing and preparing Christian servants and leaders,” he said. “We will continue to do so for all the students and families entrusted to our care.”