Alumna turns passion for business and education into award-winning curriculum

Lori Grams, B.B.A.'87, M.A.'07, an alumna of both the Western Michigan University Haworth College of Business and the College of Education and Human Development, was recently recognized for her outstanding teaching efforts at Zeeland West High School with the 2019 Dr. Louis R. Graziano Outstanding Marketing Educator Award. The state-wide award annually recognizes an educator who has made significant contributions toward quality programs that promote marketing education in their communities. 

Greg Eding, principal of Zeeland West High School describes Grams as a “master educator” because of the way she empowers students and helps them spark innovative ideas for marketing. Similar sentiments are felt by her students. Amy Overway, a former student of Grams, says, “She’s a teacher who truly cares about her students and what she is teaching them. She truly sets you up to succeed in her classroom and in life.” We sat down with Grams to hear about her time at WMU and how she makes her marketing education award winning.

Lori Grams, B.B.A.'87, M.A.'07 

Lori Grams sitting in classroomHow has your unique experience of graduating from both the college of business and the college of education helped you in your career? 

I loved my time at WMU throughout both programs. I have been able to connect with elite professors in both the business and education fields. Those connections make me a stronger teacher because I have the business foundation as well as the resources in curriculum design and delivery. I will always cherish my time at WMU. 

How does it feel to be recognized with the Dr. Louis R. Graziano Outstanding Marketing Educator Award? 

I am very honored to have received this award and knowing that it came from a panel of my peers means everything. I hope I can model the positivity, leadership and passion for marketing and business education that the previous recipients have shown.

To what do you attribute your successful program?

I put a lot of time and effort into developing an engaging curriculum for the students and making sure that I am up to date on what is happening in their world to make each day/lesson relevant. Ultimately, it is the students who have produced amazing work and who use their creativity to take our program to the next level. My managers and marketing students are so much fun to work with and knowing that I can learn so much from them too is important.

As a teacher, we don’t do this alone. I could not deliver a strong curriculum without the support of my administration and the help of our entire staff including our secretaries, custodians and technology department, as well as our community. 

How do you go about creating a dynamic learning environment that promotes innovation? 

As mentioned above, I think it is essential to create relevant, meaningful curriculum where students can see the connection between the content and what they see in life outside of the school day. My curriculum is very hands-on and interactive, which keeps students on the move throughout the class period.

I also have had to adapt how I deliver the curriculum, as the student learner has changed over the past 19 years. I do less lecture and more interactive activities, and the increase in technology plays a role too.

As a member of the Michigan Marketing Education Board for three years, what are your goals for the future of marketing education? 

Marketing and business education are needed in schools, as we are the connection to many career paths for students. Our curriculums are designed to provide students with the opportunity and ability to communicate, problem-solve and think critically in a variety of situations. We also focus on utilizing technology in ways that enhance their professional skill sets. My goal is always to see each student leave my class more prepared for the workforce and more prepared for life after high school, no matter what path they choose. I joined the board so that I can provide other teachers with some of the resources I have gathered over the years, and to give back to my profession like my mentors and former teachers/professors have done for me.

What advice would you give to current WMU students?  

Enjoy your time at WMU and make connections that will last a lifetime. Use every opportunity to explore your interests and find a career path that you have a true passion for. By combining my love of business and education, I truly get to do what makes me happy and I hope they find that for themselves too!