BCSI Teacher Spotlight—Dr. Colleen Lutz
Dr. Colleen Lutz loves sharing her passion for learning and the natural world with her students. After receiving her doctorate in veterinary medicine, Dr. Lutz worked at a private veterinary practice. She then homeschooled her children before transitioning to teaching at a hybrid school. Now, she teaches 5th grade at Founders Classical Academy of Leander in Texas.
Who are your teaching inspirations?
There are two teachers that stand out in my mind as being inspirational. Neither teacher was easy, and both demanded much of me, but each had a great impact on my education. The first was my high school German language teacher. He had a way of bringing fun into the classroom, and he had unusual ways of keeping our attention. He would often refuse to take any answer unless it was said or written with perfect German grammar, and when frustrated he would bang a large wooden bird (raven) on his desk to emphasize a point. I will never forget his daily exclamation, “Verb am ende!” I enjoyed learning from him so much, that I went to live in Germany for a year, studied German in college, and still occasionally practice the language with a German friend. The other teacher was a professor in veterinary school. He was my small animal medicine clinical professor and he was also very demanding, often putting us on the spot. As much as I dreaded his relentless questioning, I was continually challenged, which provided me with an excellent knowledge base that was invaluable in private practice.
Which book or concept do you enjoy teaching the most? Why?
I enjoy teaching science, especially biology. I particularly like taking my students to the lab for experiments and dissections. I think that demonstrating science makes the biggest impact on students. I never had the opportunity to do any hands-on science in grammar or high school. It wasn’t until college that I was able to participate in any physics, chemistry, or biology labs. I love being able to introduce my students to science in a way that really captures their interest.
What does classical education look like for you practically?
I teach science, literature, grammar, and math. It is fun to be able to connect vocabulary in different subjects to Greek and Latin roots. My fifth-grade students, who are still in the grammar stage of learning, have exposure to great stories. They memorize complicated speeches, which is building their knowledge base for future learning.
What has surprised you about teaching?
Honestly, I had no idea there would be so much tracking and record-keeping for every student. My previous career as a veterinarian was very different. I became interested in education through homeschooling my own children. Keeping up with my own children is very different from tracking 54 different students. That said, I also never thought I would enjoy teaching so much. It is very rewarding.
Is there anything else particularly important to your philosophy of education you would like to highlight?
I think the most important thing we can teach is to love learning. Finding creative ways to present material is key. Inspiring students to want to learn more, read books, and explore the natural world is my goal.