Molly Lutz had already gained experience teaching at two other schools, including Dwight Grade School, when she began her 26-year stint at Immaculate Conception School in Morris.
On taking the position, she learned she would be instructing her second grade students about two of the seven sacraments. She wondered if she was up to it.
“I was a little nervous that I wasn’t good enough or holy enough to be able to teach such a thing,” she said, “but I had a talk with Father Mike (Foley), and he reassured me.”
Teaching the sacraments has since become a blessing to her and, according to her coworkers, to her students.
One ICS teacher said Lutz inspires a love of their faith in her children and an awareness of growing closer to God. She said that helps them realize the importance of their lifetime faith journey.
“To have two of the sacraments in their second grade year was such a gift,” Lutz said. “It also helped me see and experience the beauty of them every year through the eyes of these beautiful, innocent children.
Working with ICS science teacher Janelle Aldrich, Lutz has also embraced science and technology, putting laptops in her students’ hands and initiating a hands-on science curriculum that she said makes the subject more engaging.
And with each new school year, Lutz knows her students will be different from the ones the year before, with different needs and personalities. Experience and good mentors, including her teacher parents, helped her understand the kind of teacher she wanted to be early on.
“I wanted to be a strong teacher,” she said. “I wanted to reach all different kinds of learners.”
ICS Principal Stacey Swanson said Lutz strives to make sure each of her students reaches their full potential.
“Molly is the teacher that reaches into a child’s soul and brings out each and every best part of him or her,” Swanson said. “She teaches that child to celebrate the uniqueness that lives within and to share those wonderful gifts with the world. As a teacher, Molly’s greatest strength is her ability to create a classroom full of love, anticipation and grace. That classroom is a family – for her, for them and for the school community.”
Lutz also hopes she has instilled in her students a love for reading.
“I hope my students know what reading can give them throughout their whole lives,” she said.
An appreciation of diversity and connecting to others who are different from them has been a priority. To go along with their social justice lessons, her students perform a play that reenacts the Birmingham Bus Boycott.
Lutz retires at the end of the year.
“I hope in the end I’ve done enough,” she said, “that I’ve done enough in the world. Mostly, I hope my students know that we are all called to love and serve other people, to be kind and honest and work hard.”