By Sabrina McElyea
For English teacher Mr. James Lodl, when school ends, school begins.
He teaches English 11 and 12 at Delta High School. He is working on finishing his master’s degree in English through Ball State University.
“I wanted to expand what I could teach and how I could teach it, so a master’s degree in a subject that I already teach just made sense to me,” he said.
His schooling began in summer of 2018 and he will graduate in May.
Mr. Lodl says, “I am really excited and happy to be done.”
His wife, Mrs. Nicole Lodl, also teaches at Delta.
She says, “I think it’s great that he is back in school and pursuing another degree. I think it’s helping him be a better teacher.”
Mr. Lodl went to Indiana State University in Terre Haute for his bachelor’s degree and felt more connected to the campus at the time because his classes were on campus. When pursuing his bachelor’s degree, he worked part time and treated school as his job.
It’s different this time around.
“Now, teaching is my first priority, and I only take one class at a time.”
The work that is required this time is much more difficult and requires more time.
Mr. Lodl says, “I’m reading about 100-150 pages of stuff a week and then responding to that. It’s much more challenging than the first time.”
For him, though, it hardly feels like work.
“I like reading and writing and decided that this would be an opportunity for me to get better at it, which would in turn help me be a better teacher.”
Although, it’s not a concern for him if he’s not interested in the work.
“If I’m not interested then I have to power through it,” he says.“Not doing my work is not an option when each class costs $2,000. I think that enjoyment is a treat in education, like the dessert after dinner.”
Lodl has found that the best part of his classes are the discussions that are held through Zoom.
Mr. Lodl has found that his biggest challenge is time management.
“I have a three-hour night class once per week and have to prepare by doing at least three or four hours a week of homework.”
He has had to write a few 20-page papers that end up being roughly 60 percent of his grade. “There are no worksheets, quizzes, etc. My whole grade is riding on this one big paper at the end.”
Even though he has gone through college once before, Mr. Lodl still finds himself becoming overwhelmed at times. “Especially around the end of classes, so November and April.”
Around those times is when teachers realize that they are behind and begin to pile on the work. Mr. Lodl does his best to prepare for this load of work. “I try to set aside time to just do the readings so instead of stressing about it, I’m done with it.”
This tactic was beneficial to him last semester. “I got my end project done early and got feedback from my professor early…it paid off because she had time to give me really detailed feedback on how to improve and get an A on my work.”
Mr. Lodl has been able to use his experience from being back in school to relate to his current students.
“I can give them some pointers on how to manage their time more effectively to achieve the goal that they’ve been tasked with.”
He understands that high school is different because while in college you get to choose your major so the required classes will be more enjoyable, in high school you don’t get as much freedom when it comes to choosing classes. However, he believes that the same principles apply.
The ultimate deciding factor to going back to school was to become equal with his wife, Mrs. Lodl.
“I couldn’t let Mrs. Lodl flex on me by having her master’s degree but me not having one.”
Obtaining a master’s degree would make it easier for him to get a doctorate at some point in the future.
“I have no immediate plans to become Dr. Lodl. Although I do like the sound of that,” he said.
When it comes to getting things done around the house Mr. and Mrs. Lodl have some interesting stories.
Mr. Lodl follows the advice that their priest gave them when they got married: “Marriage isn’t 50-50, it’s 100-100.”
He says that they try to split things up, “I have stuff that I’m good at, like cleaning out the gutters and vacuuming the house. Mrs. Lodl cooks way better than I do, so she generally does that. I have burned pancakes so bad that the dog wouldn’t even eat them.”
Mrs. Lodl tends to be a picky eater and enjoys cooking so she typically cooks. She agrees with the statement that they try to split chores up but there’s a catch. “Here is the thing about Mr. Lodl and chores. He has the attention span of a gnat when it comes to cleaning anything. He could be folding laundry, stop in the middle of it because he noticed a spot of dirt on the back porch, then end up hosing off the back porch and the laundry will not get folded. Grad school has not changed this, and I don’t think it ever will.”