When you hear “accountant” you might think boring, quiet, set in her ways, obsessive even. Accounting instructor Jane Zlojutro, however, is none of those things. She believes in taking risks and keeping class lively. “I’ll try anything,” she says. “If I fail and it’s an epic fail, whatever! I’m all about having fun because students learn better.”
At the October Professional Development Day, Jane presented on one way her students have fun while learning at the same time–the service learning soup project she leads in her Cost Management Accounting class. In this project, students are tasked with producing soup on a large scale to donate to the Father Fred Food Pantry. They have to figure out quantities, a budget, and production schedules. Then the test comes when they actually gather to put everything together–did they calculate quantities and costs correctly? was their purchasing of raw materials sufficient? have they allocated their personnel resources adequately? Jane says the project is always a big hit with students: “They don’t even realize they’re learning.” Not only do the students learn about cost management in a real-world setting, but, she says, when they take the dozens of jars of ready-to-make soup to Father Fred, the students feel good about what they’re contributing to the community.
Jane, who worked for twenty years in public accounting and is now the program coordinator for Accounting, began teaching at NMC as an adjunct instructor in 2001 and then became full time in 2008. Right now, she is looking forward to next May when she will be participating in a study-abroad program for Spanish and business students in Ecuador. Jane embraces all the exciting opportunities teaching provides. Jane believes, “You learn a lot as you teach. You have to know your stuff, but you’re also always learning. You just have to be.”