Trinity Lutheran High School Principal Ben Stellwagen wasn’t looking to leave his position anytime soon, but sometimes, God has a different plan, he said.
After serving two years as principal at the Seymour school, Stellwagen has announced he is stepping down in July to answer a call to serve as director of dual credit at Concordia University in Nebraska.
“The timing was nothing I sought or imagined, but as a pastor put it to me recently, the joy of receiving a call is to be loved twice,” Stellwagen said.
He received the call from Concordia in February and said the decision to leave Trinity was not an easy one to make but ultimately is the right one for his family and a great professional opportunity.
“I have absolutely loved my time at Trinity, and there is so much to be excited about on its horizon,” he said. “I will deeply miss the students, staff and community here. I remain humbled and thankful for everyone’s prayers, especially as my family prepares for this new call.”
Trinity’s executive council, which is part of its school board, formed a call committee, which has been interviewing candidates and nominees. They hope to have the position filled soon so Stellwagen can help with the transition before he leaves.
Stellwagen said what he will miss most about Trinity is the variety of people he has been able to work with to benefit the school, from students, faculty and staff to coaches, board members, pastors and families.
“That we all share in trying to deliver Trinity’s mission of educating, developing and preparing Christian servants and leaders motivates the work,” he said. “I will certainly miss this spectacular community of faith and learning. I have been so blessed to be in this place at this time.”
Stellwagen believes all of his experiences at Trinity have prepared him to move on, and he is looking forward to being in a position that requires him to adapt to a variety of educational settings.
As director of dual credit at Concordia, Stellwagen said he will be responsible for bringing a creative approach to helping the college grow its dual credit program as it partners and networks with more Lutheran high schools across the country.
Stellwagen is more than just a principal at Trinity and makes the effort to build personal friendships with students and staff.
“A couple times, I would stand in the hallway during passing period and simply count out loud if a student passed by without saying ‘Hi,’” he said. “It didn’t take them long to realize that I was looking forward to greeting them all individually, making eye contact and wishing them well on the rest of their day.
“To build a relationship with students, to watch them grow and develop and then to see them go joyfully about their day is something I won’t soon forget,” he said.
Stellwagen was named interim principal of Trinity in May 2016 after the departure of former Principal Daniel Sievert. Before that, he had served as the school’s resource teacher and special education coordinator for two years.
Although he hasn’t been at Trinity long, Stellwagen believes a lot has been accomplished during that time. But he doesn’t take all of the credit for the school’s successes.
“It is certainly a team effort that depends on all departments functioning well — faculty, development, admissions, guidance, special education, maintenance, athletics and finance,” he said. “Coordinating those efforts has been fulfilling.”
Because of the team in place at Trinity and the support it receives in the community, Stellwagen said he is not worried about the school’s future.
“Trinity is in such a great position moving forward,” he said. “We continue to promote school culture; to excel academically, athletically and in extracurricular activities; to develop financial and ministry support from our partner congregations and the community; and to encourage the next generation of students and families to become Trinity Cougars.”