New York City’s Astoria Lutheran School Awarded the Lester R. Bayer Award for Excellence in Urban Education

NEW YORK, NYFebruary 10, 2017—The Center for Urban Education Ministries (CUEM), a ministry supported by Lutheran Social Services of New York, has awarded the 2017 Lester R. Bayer Award for Excellence in Urban Education to Astoria Lutheran School in Queens, New York.

CUEM’s Lester R. Bayer Award recognizes urban education programs that are highly successful, operating innovative programs that reach out to students in new and exciting ways. Astoria Lutheran School uses a blend of technology and face-to-face teaching to allow students to reach their God-given potential.

The mission of Astoria Lutheran School is to nurture a student’s love of learning and faith in God, and to equip them to meet the challenges of the 21st Century with confidence, integrity, and a respect for others. Like many schools, students at Astoria Lutheran School are encouraged to meet the New York State Common Core Learning Standards, but they do so in creative ways by using innovative programs and instructional strategies that foster intellectual, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual development. The school provides a caring, safe, Christian environment that encourages risk-taking for successful and joyful learning, respect for self and others, responsible behavior, compassion, and church and community participation.

Each week, students work in multi-age groups to investigate a chosen topic or theme that provides an opportunity for students to apply learned concepts in project-based lessons across a variety of content areas. These “theme” days, as the students call them, have become the most anticipated day of the week. The school’s garden/outdoor classroom has, and continues to be, at the center of the multi-age, project-based studies, allowing students the hands-on opportunity to learn from, and connect with nature. “At the beginning of the year, my daughter emphatically declared that she would never stay home from school on a Wednesday because she would not miss a project-based learning day,” said the mother of a 5th grade student at Astoria Lutheran School.

CUEM is proud to present the Lester R. Bayer Award to this fine group of students and teachers. 

About the Lester R. Bayer Award:

Dr. Lester Bayer began his career serving children and families in Lutheran schools in Baltimore and Chicago. In the 1940s, he opened a one-room school for grades 1-8 in Greeley, Colorado where students received a strong Lutheran education. He moved to Concordia College in Austin, Texas, where he served for 13 years as academic dean. He worked part-time for the Synodical Board for Higher Education, serving as the Board’s Associate Executive Secretary. In 1980, he and his wife Lois moved to New York to serve at Concordia College in Bronxville. As Dean of Administration and Vice President, Dr. Bayer co-founded the Center for Urban Education Ministries. The Center engaged urban educators to better meet the critical needs in their communities and to share insights with other educational leaders. During his 10 years of service to the Center, Dr. Bayer emphasized its mission to provide Gospel outreach to children and families through excellent and equitable education in urban areas. He recruited individuals from academia and the broader Christian community to conduct numerous projects in support of this mission. Dr. Bayer was a gifted author, writing many devotions, journal articles, and two books on urban education. He died on August 19, 2008, at the age of 84, and is survived by his wife Lois, four adult children, Tim, Mike, Pam and Lynn, and seven grandchildren.


Marlene Lund
Executive Director, Center for Urban Education Ministries


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