Roy Stuckwisch earns national Lutheran education award


Roy Stuckwisch just can’t seem to stay retired.

After three different careers, the Seymour resident said he is “blessed” to still be working a job he loves.

He is currently the interim principal at Zion Lutheran School, an early-childhood education facility in Seymour that serves around 140 area students in preschool through kindergarten. Zion also provides before- and after-school childcare for working families.

Among his administrative responsibilities, Stuckwisch oversees program development and marketing for the school, supervises class programs and staff development and performance.

For his leadership and continued support of students, staff and families at Zion, Stuckwisch recently was selected to receive the national 2020 Distinguished Lutheran Early Childhood Administrator Award from the Lutheran Education Association.

He’ll officially receive the award at the LEA’s national conference Feb. 19 in Phoenix, Arizona. Also, the director of the LEA will visit Zion the last Sunday in March to make a local presentation.

“It was totally unexpected,” Stuckwisch said. “It’s a great honor to get this national award, but this isn’t about me. This is about the wonderful servants that God has given us here at Zion Lutheran School through the years and most importantly to God for all his blessings and the fruits that he gives us to serve him.”

He also credits the support of Zion Lutheran Church in helping to make the early-childhood center what it is today.

This is Stuckwisch’s second go around as principal at Zion as he served in the position for nearly a decade from 2007-2016 before retiring. But three years later, when his replacement, Chrissy Heiss, received a call to serve at another early-childhood school in Illinois, he agreed to come back for one year, even if it meant not spending the winter in Florida as he had planned.

His career in education dates back to his time spent in the classroom as a teacher.

“Right out of college, I taught at Southport and Perry Meridian high schools,” he said. “I did that for 10 years.”

For about half of that decade, he served as the business education department chair. The question then came up if he wanted to go back to school to get his administrative degree in education. He decided to take a different path.

“While I loved teaching and education was in my heart, I decided to go off and try my leadership skills elsewhere,” he said. “So I got a job at Cummins and worked in various positions there for 26 years.”

Even while working in industry, Roy kept involved in education by serving 12 years on the Seymour Community School Corp. Board of Trustees, serving as president for 10 years and spending six years on the Indiana School Board Association’s Board of Directors.

After retiring from Cummins, he learned of the principal position opening up at Zion. Knowing he still had a love for education and wanting to serve his Lord, he told the church he was interested in the job.

Zion Lutheran Church’s head pastor Jeffrey Stuckwisch, who is not closely related to Roy, said the early-childhood ministry has continued to grow and thrive because of the dedication and passion shown by Roy over the years.

“He set aside his plans in retirement for the current school year to make certain that Zion School would continue to press forward with its mission of educating children to be lifelong followers of Jesus,” Pastor Stuckwisch said.

Throughout his tenure, Roy has guided the school through the challenges of staffing and space to accommodate increasing enrollment.

“He did so always with a two-pronged approach of encouraging our families and building up our staff,” Pastor Stuckwisch said.

Under Roy’s leadership, Zion received its first accreditation through the National Lutheran Schools Association.

“He seized the accreditation process as an opportunity to take us to the next level as an early childhood center in various areas, including curriculum, discipline and relationships with our constituents among other things,” Pastor Stuckwisch said.

Roy also oversaw the creation of a support group for moms with young children that meets at the school three times a month. The group provides a forum for mothers to gather, encourage one another and learn more about parenting through peer discussion and presentations from local experts.

As an administrator, Roy makes it a point to stay personally connected to what’s going on inside and outside the classroom, making himself available to all.

“Roy’s open-door policy, his visibility around the school and community, and his simple words of encouragement make it easy for parents to approach him with questions or concerns they may have,” Pastor Stuckwisch said.

Another area Roy excels at is communicating with parents and the Zion Lutheran Church congregation so they know what his happening at the school.

He visits classrooms daily to stay in touch with students, teachers and classroom aides and even started daily devotions to address the spiritual well-being of staff, giving them an opportunity to talk about personal and family concerns.

“The Lord has used Roy Stuckwisch to provide the leadership that moved us from a school of individual classroom and extend care programs to a unified ministry that reaches out to the families of our congregation and community to welcome them with the love of Christ,” Pastor Stuckwisch said.

Roy said he willingly and happily continues to do what God asks of him.

“I do whatever I can in service to God, knowing that He is the vine, I am the branch and that apart from Him, I can do nothing,” he said.

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