Posted on: May 7, 2023 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Glenn Carpenter

By Abigail Niedospial, JRN-111 Student

Marjorie Owens-Klotz has won many awards, but her classroom is where the award-winning moments happen.

Speech fundamentals instructor Owens-Klotz is no stranger to the fear that occurs when it comes to public speaking. To counter it, she makes the experience more than just a class–she creates a community.

Photo courtesy of Marjorie Owens-Klotz

“I work to make everyone as comfortable as possible in every classroom,” said Owens-Klotz, who started her teaching journey at Moraine three years ago. “I only turn on half the lights. I play music, and everyone in the class gets to know everyone else, in every class. This way, when they go to the front of the room to speak, they’re having a conversation with people they know!” 

After a rough adjustment from COVID-19, which forced classes to go online and put a damper on students’ ability to communicate, Owens-Klotz set out to make sure her classes were as inviting as possible.

“I think kids enjoy being greeted by name when they come in,” she said. “Getting to know their classmates and being in a welcoming, fun environment where everyone gets to know each other makes the difference.” 

After earning her master’s degree in communication studies, Owens-Klotz was named the first public information officer for the Village of Orland Park. For 37 years, she handled communication efforts, programs and events, branding initiatives and crisis communication. From there, Owens-Klotz knew she wanted to expand the art of public speaking. 

After an early retirement, she switched to teaching speech at Moraine as well as at Saint Xavier University, and marketing at Trinity Christian College.

“I knew that I wanted to teach when I took an early retirement from the Village of Orland Park, and Moraine Valley was my first choice,” she said.

With her calm demeanor and outstanding humor, Owens-Klotz quickly earned the trust and support of her students.

Declan Fortier, a former student, was stuck in a rut he couldn’t get out of when Owens-Klotz came into his life.

“When I was taking her class, it was my first semester back at college in a while, and I was unsure of myself,” Fortier said. “Her support and teaching style really helped to show me what I was capable of in a very unsure period of my life.”

She helped to show me that I was capable of big things as long as I set my mind to them.” 

Declan Fortier, former student

But what stood out to Fortier the most were the guest speakers Owens-Klotz brought in to inspire students.

“Talking to successful business people from the surrounding area and hearing their stories was super inspirational,” Fortier said. “Hearing all of the speakers talk about how important public speaking is to have as a skill helped Owens-Klotz’s class stand out from the rest.”

Shortly before her retirement from Orland Park, Owens-Klotz created her own company, Owens Media, her biggest accomplishment so far.

“Creating my own company is something that I’m very proud of,” Owens-Klotz said. “We provide public relations and marketing services and professional development (public speaking) training for companies and organizations.” 

But what touched Owens-Klotz’s heart the most was her recent induction into the Moraine Valley Alumni Hall of Fame.

“My younger sister nominated me for the Moraine Valley Alumni Hall of Fame,” she said. “I think she saw it on social media and knows how much I loved going to Moraine 40 years ago and how much of a blast I’m having now being back there as an adjunct instructor.”

When recalling the moment, Owens-Klotz couldn’t help but gush.

Photo by Glenn Carpenter
Tom O’Malley, Jim Craver, Wally Fronczek and Marjorie Owens-Klotz are inducted into the MV Alumni Hall of Fame.

“It was totally cool, seriously. To be honored by a place that has played such a big role in my life was amazing,” she said. “Moraine has been an important part of my life journey and it touched my heart to be recognized for my career accomplishments and community involvement.” 

Not only does Owens-Klotz inspire students, she also inspires her colleagues around her. 

“I love that Professor Owens-Klotz’s classes become a true community of supporters,” says Amani Wazwaz, a longtime communications professor who supervises the adjunct instructors who teach speech fundamentals.

“Professor Owens sees her students for the individuals they truly are,” Wazwaz said. “She understands their hopes and dreams. She remembers their stories and knows their strengths.” 

Even though Owens-Klotz works to make her classroom a fun environment, she makes sure that her message gets across in the end.

“On the first day of class, I keep a straight face and tell my classes, ‘Mine is the most important class you will ever take,'” Owens-Klotz said. “The kids look at me strangely, and some chuckle, and then I explain how public speaking is a life skill that will help them throughout their lives, whatever career paths they choose.

“Being able to effectively communicate is a huge skill that will take you far.”