Trading in oceanside palm trees for golden midwestern cornfields, the Lofinks are looking foward to beginning the new school year at Zion Lutheran School in Litchfield.
The couple, who hail from Orange County, CA, will be serving the Zion community in their own capacities respectively.
Lofink will lead as the new principal and his wife, Karen, will serve as the second grade teacher.
“God obviously had a plan and He put it on my heart to come to Litchfield to work at Zion Lutheran and it just felt right,” said Lofink. “You know when God has a different plan for you. And He definitely put that on my heart and my wife’s heart, and we both felt like this was the right place to come.”
Lofink graduated from Concordia University in Irvine, CA, earning his master’s degree in educational administration, as well as California professional teaching and Lutheran teaching credentials. Following his education, he dedicated his career to teaching in the Lutheran school system.
Lofink taught kindergarten through eighth grade students at three different schools in Orange County, CA, before becoming a high school athletic director and head girls basketball coach six years ago.
“It was a culture shock at first, but I grew up playing sports my whole life,” he said. “It was a fun job and being an athletic director is a great job.”
While Lofink enjoyed his occupation and Litchfield was certainly not on the map for the Lofink family, they turned to the Lord for their next venture.
“I really missed the kindergarten through eighth grade school and it was one of the things that brought me here,” he said. “My name has always been all over the country and I kind of said ‘alright God, if you ever want us to move, You work on this and take care of it’ and of all the places we could go, this was the place He brought us.”
A call from Jennifer Helgen offering him the position helped, as she persuaded the new principal with Lake Lou Yaeger and other features the community has to offer. The lake was a selling point for Lofink though–as one of his dreams is to live on the lake and own a boat. After touring the community they had never heard of, the Lofinks made a prayerful decision to relocate.
“The people are fantastic. All I can say is the people here, from every asset, from restaurants to the post office. The lady at the post office was fantastic. Everybody has been nothing but great here,” said Lofink.
As the school year draws near, the Lofinks are encouraged by two simple, yet crucial goals.
“I want this to be a school that spreads the gospel of Jesus Christ, first and foremost. If we spread the gospel to the people and the school within the Zion community, then we’re able to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people that are outside of the Zion community,” said Lofink. “Second, is to make it an outstanding educational institution, where students can come here and they’re well educated. We want to get the top teachers and want parents to feel welcome, and they look at it and say, ‘this is an educational facility. This is a place where I want my kid to be educated.’”
Karen Lofink, Zion’s new second grade teacher, is originally from a small farming community in Nebraska. She earned her degree from Concordia University in Nebraska, and much like her husband, committed a life-long career to teaching in Lutheran-based schools.
She has taught second grade for 25 years, third grade for one year and fourth grade for one year at a Lutheran school in Orange County. This year marks her first year teaching in the Zion system.
The couple have three children, Kaitlyn, 26, who resides in Orange County with her husband; Courtney, 24, who resides in Hawaii, where she also teaches in a Lutheran academic environment; and Tyler, 20, who also relocated and will join his parents at Zion Lutheran as a teacher’s aide.
The Lofinks are happy to work alongside the Zion Lutheran COVID team to ensure a safe environment for their students to return this fall. According to the new principal, Zion students can choose between in-class or remote learning based on the needs of each family. The COVID team will re-access educational plans near Labor Day.
“I want to thank the people of Litchfield for being so amazing,” Mark said. “That’s why we’re here.”