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OUR SHEPHERD LUTHERAN SCHOOL 9201 E. County Road 100 North Avon, IN 317-271-9103 ourshepherd.org Writer / Jamie Hergott Photography Provided

Hendricks County is known for excellent schools, but often the smaller, private schools get overlooked. Our Shepherd Lutheran School in Avon is one of those, and Principal Amy Hedges urges folks to take a closer look at what makes them special. The school began as an offshoot of the church 27 years ago. What started as an early childhood program has been built up over the years to include kindergarten through eighth grade. “We have grown from a developmental-type preschool to a very intentional program to help students get a good step forward going into kindergarten and the upper grades,” Hedges says. Kids come to Our Shepherd from all over central Indiana, including Greenwood, Zionsville, Monrovia and even downtown Indianapolis. Once kids get to eighth grade, they disperse to about as many places as they came from. “They aren’t necessarily going into Christian high schools,” Hedges says. “When they leave here, they’re heading off to between 10 to 12 different high schools. It’s neat to see, from a missional standpoint, these kids spreading their wings and doing well.” Some may wonder if students at a smaller school are equipped for bigger high schools. The largest class size is 16, the smallest is nine, and the Early Childhood teacher-tochild ratio is nine to one. Our Shepherd’s Early Childhood Director Tracie Douglas insists that the school’s small size and

flexible curriculum do more than prepare students - they help to build confidence in relationships and life. “Even as a small school, our diversity of needs is great,” Hedges says. “We do use curriculum as a base, but we also encourage our teachers to pull from whatever they need to serve their particular class.” There’s a new initiative among Lutheran schools that involves working to develop their own curriculum. Teachers can share a curriculum map developed by teachers for teachers, which allows them to pool resources and learn the best practices and resources that benefit children most. 22 / AVON MAGAZINE / FEBRUARY 2021 / AvonMagazine.com

What makes Our Shepherd’s Early Childhood program different, according to Douglas, is the intersection of curricular activities and the children’s interests. Each year looks different based on what children are interested in. “We adapt our topics of study to the children’s interest and questions,” Douglas says. “We truly believe they are strong and capable learners. Their questions have value and worth, and they’re worth investigating. Based on what we know about current brain research for young children, it meets their needs.” This ever-changing approach doesn’t

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