Sitzman Joins Bishop Heelan Half Century Club

Heelan High Teacher Honored for 50 Years of Teaching
Posted on 08/15/2020
Pat Sitzman will be honored Monday for a huge milestone at Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools -- entering her 50th year of teaching. Thousands of Heelan graduates have honed their reading, writing and English fundamentals under Sitzman's  teaching guidance.

Today she embraces her laptop in the classroom, but still remembers (and likes!) the smell of mimeograph machines. 

Sitzman -- one of 17 children born in Lawton, Iowa -- taught nearly 20 years of middle school before moving to Heelan.

“I swore when I came to Heelan, I would leave and spend the last few years back in middle school,” she said in a 2014 Heelan interview. “I just got amazed by Heelan and it’s totally part of me.”

Sitzman was honored as a Teacher of Excellence in the Diocese of Sioux City at the Bishops’ dinner several years ago and joins Brendan Burchard in the “Bishop Heelan Half Century Club.”

She will be applauded with 22 other teachers and staff members who celebrate milestone anniversaries at Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools this school year. They will be honored at a Faculty and Staff meeting Aug. 17 in preparation for school starting Aug. 25. 


How has learning changed?
When I first started, kids sat in the desks and took notes with paper and pencil. There wasn’t a whole lot of discussion. The classroom was very teacher controlled. Today is the opposite. We (teachers) are more like facilitators. We do a lot of small group work where kids interact with each other. They teach each other. They learn more, and they enjoy learning more. You can hear it. 

Do you have a favorite class?
Composition one and composition two writing classes. You watch the kids begin to open up, think for themselves, give answers and prove their point. They learn to research and make their own decisions. You can really see their writing skills grow in expressing their attitudes and thoughts.  We focus on writing skills because that’s what students will need no matter what. When my English Honors students graduate from my class, they have already nine hours of college credit. 

What have you enjoyed most about teaching? 
The friendships I’ve made with the kids. The kids who come back and tell you they appreciate you. I got a letter from a former student (about my impact as a teacher). It was the neatest feeling in the world.
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