Elise Lutz: A series of unfortunate events

Alumni works as high school science teacher


Submitted photo

Alumni, Elise Lutz, secures job as Georgetown High School science teacher.

Dayna Ung, Staff Reporter

With her cap and gown draped around her, she politely waved as her friend, well, maybe more of an acquaintance, headed over to her and began to talk to her. The next few words may have seemed small, but were responsible for re-shaping her entire mindset. “You’ve always been so kind to me and everyone,” the acquaintance said. “I really appreciated it.” She sat in astonishment as the acquaintance walked away, realizing that she could make even a little impact on someone’s life.

This was one of the unforgettable moments that led Georgetown High School chemistry teacher, Elise Lutz, to where she is today. Lutz graduated from Vandegrift in 2016 and UT Austin in 2020 with a degree in neuroscience and a certificate in forensic science.  She started teaching chemistry, forensic science and girls soccer at Georgetown High School this year and is also a high school girl’s small group leader at Hill Country Bible Church in Steiner. 

“My faith as a Christian has absolutely brought me to where I am now,” Lutz said. “Without God on my side, I don’t think I would have ended up at Georgetown, which is a school that I have completely fallen in love with. There are so many people I work with that are like minded individuals who are also strong in their faith. We have a community here of Christians that are willing to impact students.”

Lutz said that she absolutely loves her job as a science teacher and spoke about her passion for science and learning. She said that she has a desire to know the way things work and teach others about how science applies to our lives.

“I love to know how things work and why they work,” Lutz said. “I guess I’ve always been fascinated with how science is everything around us. Whether by what it’s made up with, how it moves, how it acts, just the whole concept of life in general. I love to share that passion with other people because I think people don’t realize that science is all around them.”

Lutz said that she has had many major role models in her life that have shaped who she is today. From her parents to many college professors, she said they each have greatly influenced her life.

“My mom and dad have always taught me how to try my best, and I think that’s something that has shaped me into being where I am now,” Lutz said. In college, there was a graduate student mentor who took me under her wing. She was getting her PhD in anthropology, and I got to have these really cool hands on learning experiences such as fossil digs in Wyoming and other things like that.”

These role models also included some of Lutz’s Vandegrift teachers. One of them was her calculus teacher, Mrs. Raitt. 

“I always liked the ones that challenged me and had hard expectations for me,” Lutz said. “I really liked her because she always pushed me and she had very clear expectations. And also, once you got to know her she had a fun side as well.”

She credited Vandegrift to preparing her for many things in college, both academically and in her personal life.  

“Vandegrift helped in a lot of good ways in the sense that I was so prepared for college,” Lutz said. “College was sometimes easier, which is kind of encouraging. Also, it helped me to focus on my studies a lot. I felt like it also prepared me in ways such as experiences that I’ve had that weren’t necessarily quite as good. For example, struggling with friendships and everyday things that happen at school.” 

Lutz said that she had not always known she had wanted to become a teacher, but she remembers thinking during school what she would do and not do if she ever was a teacher. She said she hopes to establish real relationships with her students and connect with them as well as be influential in their lives.

“I want to be able to turn my students into learners,” Lutz said. “I want them to be self sufficient and able to find the information they need to succeed in life. I also want to be someone that is more of a mentor to students that went through struggles like I did in high school. I think what success looks like for me is having my students learn how to learn and to have someone to come and talk to should they need it as well as to be able to share my faith in the ways that I can.”

As much as Lutz tries to have an impact on her students, Lutz admits to struggling with her work life balance, especially being a first year teacher with both in person and online students.

“One stress is that I didn’t realize how hard grading is,” Lutz said. “Literally, grading is so hard, especially when students ask for their grade when you haven’t finished grading it yet. Also, work life balance has been really difficult, especially this time, where I’m having to teach my online students when I am at home because I work with my in person students all day. I never have time for my remote students until I get home after work hours. The hardest part has been the way I have to juggle doing all of this in person and remote learning.”

Outside of the classroom, she is also a small group leader for sophomore girls at her church. Lutz said that she wants to be an example for other high school girls just like her small group leader was when she was in high school.

“I feel like God called me into being a small group leader,” Lutz said. “With all of the struggles that I went through in high school, especially with all my anxiety, mental health, and honestly, my doubt in my faith. Having that as I have grown in college and then so much afterwards, I feel like I have some experiences that I want to share and pass down to hopefully even impact just one person.”

As a science teacher and Christian, Lutz explains about being careful with how she teaches the material. Lutz said that although she teaches chemistry, she had originally wanted to teach biology which teaches evolution.

“In biology, specifically, when they start to talk about evolution and things like that, I think it’s really important that teachers leave it as an option,” Lutz said. “I think we can say that we have scientific evidence for some types of evolution, we can see this in certain types of animals, but it needs to be another option made. This doesn’t necessarily disagree with beliefs of other things students may believe in, and I think that needs to be said. Maybe this is true, I don’t necessarily disagree with the fact that evolution exists in species, but personally, I disagree with human evolution. So I think that we have to be very careful as teachers but also not limiting.”

Lutz has already proved her effectiveness in being a leader. One of her small group members who goes to Vandegrift, sophomore Alaina Riddle, said she is inspired by Lutz because she truly cares for everyone she meets.

“Elise is so loving and kind to everyone and just radiates joy wherever she goes,” Riddle said. “She inspires me to be as kind to others as she is and just shine God’s love through me the way she does. She also knows what it’s like to go through high school in our generation, so she can talk to us and relate to us on our level. Elise is the kind of girl I want to be best friends with in high school, and the woman I want to grow up to be.”

Lutz recalled that when she was in high school, she would joke that if she could title her life, she said she would call it “Elise: A Series of Unfortunate Events” though now looking back, not so unfortunate after all. As Lutz reflected on her growth from high school to now and how far she had come, with everything she had accomplished and still more life ahead, the stress of teaching both in person and online, and the pressure of being a role model to so many students, is it worth it?

“I get to do what I love literally every day,” Lutz said. “Is it worth it? Yes, it is so worth it.”