Teacher Elizabeth Cutrera building ‘lasting impact’ with her students
Published 6:00 am Friday, October 27, 2023
By Emily Burleigh
When Elizabeth Cutrera, 32, was a young student she had a teacher tell her that she would make a great teacher, and that is all she needed to hear.
“That statement planted a seed that grew into a vocation.”
She is a Lake Charles native who graduated from Barbe High School. In 2013, she received her bachelor’s in English education from Louisiana State University. The next year, she earned her master’s in educational leadership from McNeese State University.
Cutrera has now taught for just under a decade. Before she began teaching fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade ELA at St. Margaret Catholic School in the Diocese of Lake Charles, she also taught middle school ELA at Oak Park Middle School, Immaculate Conception Cathedral School and Galvez Middle School in Ascension Parish.
Teaching ELA at St. Margaret is something that she intensely loves, and said the intersection of literature and spirituality can lead to ethical revelations in her students.
“I feel as if teaching ELA lends itself to classroom discussions that not only help students learn how to be better readers and writers, but also allows us to have discussions about morality seen within the novels or stories we are reading. I find that this allows our students to not only to learn who they are in their current state but also what kind of person they hope to be.”
Her own middle school teachers left a “lasting impact,” helping her become confident and further inspiring her to teach. This is the service she wants to provide to her students.
“I felt very loved and cared for during a challenging time. I know that during this age many students do not feel comfortable in their own skin. I love trying to reach each student where they are when I meet them and help them be the best version of themself.”
While teaching, she strives to promote growth in all facets of students’ lives.
“I have always tried to focus on teaching the whole child: intellectually, spiritually, physically, socially and emotionally.”
She has the unique opportunity to help her students develop into well-rounded individuals over multiple school years, which makes her relationships with them especially special.
“I have the privilege of teaching the same group of students multiple years in a row so I get a chance to see the change happening within my students as they grow and move on to high school.”
Within herself, there are two personality traits that reaffirms Cutrera’s decision to be a teacher: her heart for service and love for children.
“I can remember really being intentional when discerning that career path I was made for. … Education was the right career for me because I must use these two pieces of my personality to be successful in my classroom.”
She advises that college students be just as intentional to discover if education is their calling.
“I truly feel that there are many great teachers out there that have not yet realized that their passion for helping others can be best brought to fruition in a simple classroom.”
It is vital that young adults take the time to do this, she said, as she “feels strongly that education is the foundation of a community.”
“I believe that there can be very little success in any other part of the community if the focus on educating the young is not taken seriously.”