Architecture, drafting and engineering teacher to retire after 33 years

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McKenna White

Showing the love, senior Ryan Lauts gives his mom (Mrs. Lauts) a hug. Lauts yelled to the crowd “that’s my mom” after she performed in the 3-point contest during Pack the House. “It was her last Pack the House,” said Lauts. “I figured it was my chance to embarass her back.”

By Sophia Kaufman, Yearbook Editor-in-Chief

Charlie Lauts didn’t always want to be a teacher. Instead of going to college, she planned to continue to work on her family’s farm in Nebraska.

“When I was a senior in high school and all of my friends were applying to colleges and deciding where they were going to go to school, I was going to stay home and be a farmer because that’s all I knew, “ Lauts said. “I was a farmer’s daughter and everyday of my life I got up in the morning and did chores.”

The decision to go to college came only a few weeks before the school year was set to start.

In August, after I graduated high school and all my friends were getting ready to leave… it was 105 degrees outside… and I was outside putting up hay on my tractor,” Lauts said. “No shade or air conditioning or anything. I came inside for lunch and told my mom that ‘I think I want to go to college,’ and she did not let me go back out into the field. She loaded me up in the car and drove me to Kearney, Nebraska…and had me enroll before I could change my mind. They couldn’t tell me I had to go to school or suggest it because I had to pay for it myself so it was my money.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Kearney State College, Lauts struggled to find work, and went back to earn her master’s degree.

“When I got done with my bachelor’s degree, I applied for 30 some jobs and my degree is in industrial arts education, which is shop teacher, and in 1984, you didn’t hire women to be the shop teacher, so I didn’t get any jobs,” Lauts said. “So I went back to school and got my master’s degree. Then I applied for three jobs and got offered all three of them.”

Fresh out of college, she accepted her job at LHS in 1987 and felt immediate support.

“For the most part, everybody’s been supportive,” Lauts said. “The guys that hired me at Lawrence High, I’m their No. 1 fan. They were just the greatest guys and they were good ‘ole boys, but I guess they believed in me. They would stop in my room and my first whole year teaching they would just show up to make sure I was doing OK.”

Lauts involved herself with the school and was the assistant varsity softball coach for 18 years. Among other things, she led students in building several playhouses for CASA and took her engineering students to Las Vegas to compete in the “Construction Challenge” for a few years.

As her time at LHS comes to a close, she will find it hard to leave behind longtime traditions she’s shared with her friends and family within the LHS community over the course of three decades.

“[Jo] Huntsinger and I have been going to football games for over 30 years and I don’t imagine we’re going to stop,” Lauts said. “It’s a part of you now. Just to stop cold turkey and not go to basketball games; now I go to volleyball tournaments, and baseball. How many baseball games I’ve been to with the boys and everything — I just can’t imagine stopping. I’ll be sneaking in when I can.”

Senior Ryan Lauts, the younger of her two sons, has taken after his mom’s interests in engineering over the years.

“…I’ve always grown up in her classroom and been around engineering so both my brother and I want to go into some sort of hands on engineering kind of thing,” he said. “Just being around it and all. I’ve always been super interested in science and asking questions in how to make stuff better and all that stuff. I’m going to try to be a chemical engineer.”

The presence and impact she had will not be forgotten by senior Sam Goddard, who has been an architecture student of Lauts for two years.

“I’m probably going to miss her most yelling at us, because we’re being loud or something, because we’d always get off topic and she’d yell and then we’d get back on topic,” Goddard said. “She was amazing to be around and I’m going to miss her presence.”

After a challenging last year at Lawrence High School, it’s a bittersweet goodbye for Lauts.

“I would teach for another 10 years. I really truly would, but financially it’s stupid to stay because I can start collecting my retirement or I can also go get another job and have another paycheck… I’ll have two kids in college next year, so there will be more bills I’m not use to having as a teacher,” Lauts said.

When asked what she would miss the most, she answered with no hesitation.

“My kids…It’s just that with what I teach, I get to have my kids for up to four years,” Lauts said. “You can start with me as a freshman and every single semester they can take a class from me, a different class, and just build up in what they’re interested in. I truly consider them my kids. Of course the people I work with, the people I’ve worked with for years, the camaraderie within the staff is just amazing. All the tradition and history at Lawrence High. It’ll be weird.”