Founding families receive IMPACT award

Reverend John Bussman speaks to guests at the St. Paul’s School Alumni and Family Dinner and Silent Auction on Saturday, April 13. (Nick Griffin)

CULLMAN, Ala. – St. Paul’s Lutheran School held its largest annual fundraiser on Saturday, April 13, at the Cotton Creek Warehouse: the Alumni & Friends Dinner and School Auction. It was a night to celebrate both the school’s seven decades of  serving the families and children of the Cullman and surrounding areas for seven decades and the school’s seven founding families.

Each year at this event, the IMPACT Award is presented by St. Paul’s to those students, teachers, support staff and church members who’ve made significant contributions to the school and community.  

The award is based on a passage from the book of Peter:

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”  1 Peter 4:10-11.

The 2024 Impact Award was not given to an individual; instead, it was given to each of the seven founding families of St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Cullman. The honored families included:

  • Ed and Adela Mae Apel
  • Bill and Bobbie Buettner
  • Melvin and Alice Marie Dahlke
  • Arnie and Louise Danker
  • Carl and Martha Woodard
  • Willis and Dot Hancock
  • Robert and Teeny Teichmiller

These founding families were responsible for the re-opening of St. Paul’s Lutheran School after financial setbacks forced the institution to close its doors in 1916; the seven families banded together and privately shouldered the cost of re-opening the school 32 years later in 1954, ensuring their legacy will be remembered through the 70 years that St. Paul’s has been serving students.

St. Paul’s Senior Pastor, Rev. John Bussman said, “Our church and our school go hand in hand; when one is strengthened, the other is strengthened. We are very happy about the award here, but feel more honored and privileged to recognize these seven families who were instrumental and brought our school back in 1954.”

Teeny Teichmiller addressed the congregated students, families and churchgoers,  saying, “On behalf of all of us, the 14, I would like to say we are honored to receive the IMPACT Award from St. Paul’s School. Some of us were lifelong Lutherans and some of us had parents and grandparents that were in the first school at St. Paul’s that closed in 1916. We were all young couples with young children and we all wanted a Christian school for our children; we wanted them to learn what Jesus said, the most important commandment, which is in Matthew 22:37-39.”

Teichmiller recited the verse, “‘Love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. And a second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Continuing, she said, “The effort to start the school was a labor of love – love for our children, love for our church and love for our God.”

Throughout the night, guests were invited to peruse the school’s fundraising venture, a silent auction filled with memorabilia and expensive wares and gifts; all items were donated, each one representing a household or business offering its support to the continuation of the teachings of the school.

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