Art Teacher – Stacy Lotz

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Where do you currently teach and which grade and subject do you specialize in?

I currently teach at Monmouth College in Monmouth, IL I am a professor in the Art Department, I teach many classes at the college but my primary focus is in Sculpture.

Tell us about your educational background.

After graduating from high school I attended Carl Sandburg Jr. College for two years. I then transferred to Eastern Illinois University where I completed a BA in Ceramics and Art History, the year following that I completed a MA in Sculpture at EIU. I was then accepted into the graduate program at Washington University in St. Louis where I completed my MFA in Sculpture.Stacy_Lotz_img

Tell us about your journey through your career, how did you end up working as a Art Teacher?

I worked many jobs after I completed my MFA. I worked at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, was a bartender for several years in St. Louis and in Galesburg, was a house/pet sitter, worked as a secretary for my uncle at his automotive body shop, and I worked as a substitute teacher in the public schools – teaching K-12, all subjects. While working at these jobs I was also teaching part-time at Carl Sandburg College (ceramics and a distance learning Art History course), teaching art classes at the Galesburg Civic Art Center, working as a Board Member of the GCAC and teaching classes at the Mary Davis Juvenile Detention Center in Galesburg. I did a lot of volunteer workshops and presentations in area schools, at nursing homes and for church groups. I also completed a public sculpture with Galesburg High School students that is still in place today. For seven summers I was also working at a very prestigious performing arts camp for girls on the east coast – Belvoir Terrace in Lenox, MA.  No matter what job I was working I was always teaching or involved in some way with the arts.

How many hours per week do you think you currently work and in your experience is it easy to manage your work load and personal/family life?

On average I work 45-50 hours/week. Most of the time it is easy to manage, but there are often times when I feel that I am spread pretty thin. My home, husband and teenage daughter are important parts of my life and I find that I come home from work and then work another 5-6 hours at being a wife and mom – cooking, cleaning, laundry, and also trying to do a bit of prep for the next day at work (grading, planning, reading…)but while the school year may be hectic the summer gives me plenty of time to re-charge.

Exploring your work life, can you tell us what a normal day looks like for you?

When I arrive at school, 8:15am, there is usually a student waiting outside of my office that needs/wants to talk. I try to look and answer e-mail when I first get to work as well. I might be able to squeeze in 15 minutes of prep time before my first class starts. (depending on student needs, e-mail, phone calls…) On Monday and Wednesdays I teach two classes; one is a 50 minute discussion/lecture course and the other is a 3 hour long studio course. On Tuesday and Thursday I teach another 3 hour long studio course. I spend about 7 hours/week per class with students in studio courses. (so 14 hours for two courses compared to 6 hours that my colleagues in other disciplines spend in lecture courses)   On any given day in sculpture I might give a welding demonstration, mix 100 + lbs. of sand for foundry molds, help a student run the table saw, as well as trying to get to every other student in the class to talk about their project progress. I usually eat my lunch while talking with students. Being an art professor means you are in constant action – not much desk time involved. When I finish teaching at 4 I most often have a committee meeting to attend and I find myself leaving campus around 5:30.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

My high school art teacher, Jimmie Crown, had a tremendous influence on me. While being a great teacher and mentor to me I also watched him impact the lives of all students that he encountered – he was an amazing sculptor and an even more amazing human being. He was humble and truly cared about the well-being of all of his students (especially those that needed a little extra attention)   I wasn’t going to go to college, I didn’t think I was college material. Mr. Crown said yes, I was going to college – I remember asking him what I would study, he laughed and said Art of course, and then I asked what I would do after that, and he laughed again and said Teach of course.  I didn’t go to college and earn a teaching certificate for K-12. During my first year at the junior college I got really excited about Art History and imagined that I might become an Art Historian and teach at the college level. I finished my Art History degree but also realized that my passion was in the studio – making stuff, getting my hands dirty, doing physical work and being surrounded by others doing the same kind of work.

What gets you excited about your job and why?

Being and working in the studio with students – struggling through projects with them, laughing and learning together. There’s really no better feeling than being in the studio working alongside others that are as excited about making art as you are, and no better feeling than watching someone who thinks they have no talent find it.

On a scale from 1 – 10, how hard was it to get to where you are now? Was it worth the journey?

A 10. And worth every minute of it. I wouldn’t change a thing about how I found my way! Every experience that I have had (and continue to have) makes me a better teacher.

What is one thing would you like to see changed in your field?

More appreciation for the Arts and the important role that they play in our lives.

What aspects of teaching are the most rewarding?

Working and sharing ideas with other artists. Sharing ‘story’.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?

Learn to Work.

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