TEC21 celebrates 10th year of equipping Lutheran school teachers
TEC21 was developed 10 years ago as a way to train Lutheran school teachers on how to effectively use technology in their classrooms. Over the last decade, TEC21 has served 655 teachers in 23 locations across the U.S., impacting tens of thousands of students along the way.
“TEC21 was embraced by hundreds of people united in mission, purpose and practice,” says Founder Brent Dieckhoff. “Without that collaborative spirit and the Lord’s blessing and timing, TEC21 would not have become the nationwide ministry it is today.”
Established in 2009, TEC21 helps Lutheran schools build technology-enriched classrooms to engage the 21st century learner. Its proprietary coaching platform is a series of seven face-to-face workshops scheduled monthly throughout the academic year and held in 23 innovation centers (Lutheran school campuses) during the school day. Content-rich sessions are facilitated by Lutheran school educators who are passionate about integrating technology in the Lutheran school classroom to engage and motivate kids.
“We have all been called to serve in Lutheran education,” Dieckhoff says. “So there’s a real sense of a kindred spirit, a comradery in this collegial experience and peer community in which teachers get support from one another. It goes beyond technology. It’s about encouraging each other in our teaching ministries.”
The first TEC21 cohort met in 2009 in Wichita, Kansas, with three teachers and Dieckhoff as the lone facilitator. A decade later, TEC21 has 23 facilitators operating in 16 of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod’s 35 districts, with 173 teachers in this year’s cohort.
“The number of students we impact is in the tens of thousands,” Dieckhoff said. “Teachers participating in the TEC21 program are not just affecting their current students; they’ll apply what they’ve learned to next year’s class, and so on. This has a significant multiplier effect, and that’s why it’s such a different experience than going to one 45-minute workshop on technology integration.”
Dieckhoff and his wife Tashia moved to Seward in 2016 when she accepted a Call to teach first grade at St. John Lutheran School. Concordia University, Nebraska, where Dieckhoff has hosted facilitator retreats each summer since 2012, became the new home base of TEC21. Today, Dieckhoff also teaches an instructional technology course on campus. It’s a role he loves in a place he loves.
“That the TEC21 workshop program is on campus certainly speaks to the relationship we have with Concordia, and its support of our mission,” he says. “This is an important partnership.”
Dieckhoff values TEC21’s partnership with Lutheran school principals and teachers, because of how it can ultimately help to strengthen Lutheran schools.
“When we equip Lutheran teachers to understand and use technology, we strengthen Lutheran schools and increase their attractiveness to parents,” he said. “Parents are looking for relevant schools with relevant programming. TEC21’s primary purpose is to share the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and equip our students to become disciples of Christ.
“When our teachers are equipped, they engage the opportunity to be witnesses to those students and share the love of Jesus.”