Economics Teacher Maximizes Utility by Ashlee Witte
Awarded the title of “Snider Dad,” government and economics teacher Mr. Evan Grotemat is universally adored by his students.
He credits his success at keeping students engaged and interested to being in tune with their specific needs. This has become more difficult with time as the age difference between him and his students has widened in his 26 years of teaching, but Mr. Grotemat is up to the challenge.
“What I like about Mr. Grotemat is how passionate he is about what he does,” senior Emma Shoemaker said, “which translates to how he cares and understands his students.”
Despite his devotion to both subjects, Mr. Grotemat could not decide whether he prefers teaching government or economics.
is much more analysis and there is a clear answer at the end of the process, versus gov, which is much more subjective,” he said, “I think they complement each other well.”
One important component to teaching either subject is to make it relevant to students’ personal lives. More than anything, Mr. Grotemat wants students to be able to carry what they learned into the real world in order to make decisions as critical thinkers and politically-informed citizens. For him, there is nothing more gratifying than hearing from former students who tell him they have been able to make connections or apply what they learned.
“He helped prepare us for adult life. A couple of things that stick out in my mind is when we simulated putting investments into stocks and when he brought in a voting booth for us to practice on,” former student Sarah Witte said.
Mr. Grotemat has won multiple awards for the impact he has as a teacher, but it is the praise he receives from his students that is most meaningful to him.
“It is nice to be recognized, but at the same time, if my students are saying positive things about me, that is much more valuable to me,” Mr. Grotemat said, regarding his two teacher of the year awards.
Mr. Grotemat goes to great lengths to ensure his lessons are creative and entertaining. When learning game theory, students get to navigate a simulated scenario involving the prisoner’s dilemma. For diminishing marginal returns, they are assigned a creative video project where they can demonstrate what they have learned. Mr. Grotemat also implemented a game of tag where the person who is tagged must graph a scenario on the board as an innovative form of review before the economics final exam. Rarely do Mr. Grotemat’s students work directly from a textbook.
“That’s why I don’t like textbooks. A textbook doesn’t bring it to life. I think any good government teacher or econ teacher is going to try to bring the subject to life with real-life examples of the topic,” Mr. Grotemat said.
Not only a competent teacher, but a generous philanthropist too, Mr. Grotemat has a reputation for being one of the most kind and benevolent staff members in the building. He created the Random Acts of Kindness Club because he does not see the point in facilitating academic success if the students are not in an environment where they are kind to one another.
During the drive for Riley’s Children’s Hospital, he rose to the occasion, bringing in over $1,000 for the charity event. He went above and beyond for his Christmas family as well, collecting so many donations that he had enough left over to give to classrooms who were struggling to check off everything on their families’ lists.
“A lot of it has to do with the students that I have. I don’t know that it’s always that I’m doing something,” Mr. Grotemat said, modestly handing most of the credit to his students’ charitable natures.
However, he did give encouragement to students to donate by relating the decision back to economics.
“It’s the fundamental economics stuff. Like listen, you’ve got two dollars and you could go and get a sandwich with it but is that two dollars going to serve you better getting a sandwich or feeding someone who hasn’t eaten for a day?” Mr. Grotemat said, once again demonstrating how relevant the subject is to everyday life.
Between juggling work and family, Mr. Grotemat finds some time to pursue his own interests. Outside of school, he enjoys seeing college friends, going to concerts and working outdoors on landscaping projects, but it is his daughters who occupy the most of his time, taking priority over his other responsibilities.
“It sounds cliché, but I honestly just love spending time with my girls,” Mr. Grotemat said, “My girls are everything.”