Innovation and Inspiration
Kathy Lutes is the enrichment teacher at New Life Academy. Her classes range from one student to 15 students. These classes allow her to go deeper into a child’s understanding and push them to think differently or try something new. Students from second to eighth grade love the engaging activities in Mrs. Lutes’ class.
Kathy has been teaching at New Life for 12 years. She has been teaching for the past 36 years, and New Life has definitely felt her impact. “Looking back after 36 years of teaching, I wouldn’t do anything else. I was meant to be a mom, a grandma, and a teacher,” said Kathy.
She loves her smaller classes, and she loves getting to watch her kids grow up. Sometimes Kathy will have the same students for six years. “It’s basically like coming to grandma’s house,” laughs Kathy. “I get to see them through a lot of things, and I have the opportunity to really get to know these students.”
This isn’t any ordinary class. Kathy’s students experience fun and crazy activities like cow eyeball dissections, engineering, computer dissections, performing and reading Shakespeare and leading problem-based learning projects. Recently, the enrichment class did a crime lab and involved parents, using their careers as lawyers and in law enforcement. Students set up a crime scene like an escape room and worked in small groups to solve the crime that took place.
We recently featured a 7th grader named Marie who invented the puppy pole in Mrs. Lutes’ enrichment class in 3rd grade. The puppy pole was invented to help Marie’s younger sister move around easier while receiving treatments in the hospital and still be able to play like a kid.
Mrs. Lutes encourages her students to always try new things and develop innovative ideas. There is a quote outside of her classroom that summarizes why she teaches and where she finds her inspiration. Featured, next to pictures of all her students, is this saying: “Dear Students, I believe in you. I am here for you. You are capable of great things. You are respected. You are unique. You are worth it. I expect great things. I will never give up on you. I care about you. Your success is my success. We are in this together. You are the reason I am here!”
She finds her inspiration from her students. “It’s the kids. I’m inspired by their joy, their energy, their faith,” said Kathy. “They bring such incredible ideas, ones that I would never even have. Being able to admit that as a teacher, that I’m learning from my students is so humbling but such an amazing experience. Having the attitude of ‘I want to learn from you, I will teach you some things, but you will teach me too.’”