Teacher Feature: Katie Lotz

Katie Lotz, an economics instructor at both the Mattoon and Effingham campus, began her college career at Eastern Illinois University the summer after she graduated high school. Lotz was an economics major and double minored in business and political science. She had not originally planned to pursue a Master’s degree, however, she was offered a presidential grad assistantship, which would cover the cost of getting her Master’s degree.

 

Reflecting on that decision she remarked, “I stayed, and I’m so glad that I did because I love teaching and if that wouldn’t have happened I never would’ve ended up here.”

 

A professor had actually encouraged her to apply for the assistantship.

“At Eastern, I had so many good professors, they have so many good people in the economics program there… for me, I love the science of it, but it was more about the people. There would be so many days of me and my friends hanging out in the professor’s office, eating lunch and just debating about life, politics, the world. To me, that was just such a great experience.”

 

With multiple interests, Lotz originally started out as a Math Major, then switched to an English Major. She had taken economics in school, but it wasn’t until she took her second economics class that it all “clicked” for her. “It had math and social science combined together which made it a perfect fit for me… economists think differently than other people, it’s just a different way of looking at the world and that fit with how I saw things… economists ask interesting questions and look at things in more depth and to me, that was really attractive.

 

Regarding her first job with the International Department at Lake Land, she said even though it didn’t have anything to do with her degree, she loved it. She gained experience traveling the world recruiting international students.

 

“That was a perfect segue into my economics course because there are so many stories I have from traveling overseas that I use in the classroom to illustrate economic principles.”

 

One may think that teaching the same subject and classes repeatedly could get mundane, but it isn’t that was in Lotz’s classroom.

“The economy is always changing, every semester I have new examples to use and that’s what keeps it fresh, no semester is the same for me.”

There are many things Lotz enjoys about her job, “My favorite thing about my job is just my students and the lecture. When I lecture I almost feel like I’m a performer… It’s like you’re getting up on stage and putting on a show. For me, it’s just so exhilarating to students and have that interaction… I didn’t teach for about 10 years when I traveled and I found myself just missing all of that debate. Now I get to do that every day, and that’s like the greatest thing in the world. I’ve always loved school, and I feel like I have the perfect job now because I’m still in school.”

 

She really appreciates having a lot of student participation in class.

She loves the “give and take” of it. One of the best things to her when students have that ‘aha’ moment.

Lotz loves hearing that kids end up enjoying her class even when they had previous misconceptions about it.

“Showing students what economics is and showing them that it doesn’t matter what your major is, you’re still going to use all of this stuff in your everyday life.”

 

In her job at Kluthe verses her job on the main campus, the class size is the main difference between the classes she teaches. “I’ve been really impressed with the quality of students that I’ve had at my Kluthe classes… because the class size is smaller it feels a little more personal and I find myself sharing more stories of my own life to illustrate economic principles.”

 

Lotz is a great example of what it means to “do what you love, and love what you do.” She has taken every opportunity and allowed it to shape her career in the best way possible. Traveling and seeing the economy in other countries and allowing those experiences to enrich her courses and illustrate the economic principles in an interesting way so that students can actually begin to understand how applicable economics is to their daily lives.

 

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