Vibrant colors fill the room, from her hair, to her sweater, and even the demonstration. The excitement bubbles inside of her, just like the exothermic reaction in the beaker. It is easy to find science teacher Ms. Kathy Kitzmann; she is consistently decked out in chemistry attire, ranging from chemistry-themed jewelry, to T-shirts, lab coats, pins, bumper stickers and more. Ms. Kitzmann entertains her students through her wardrobe, various accents, and visual learning techniques.
“My favorite thing about Ms. Kitzmann is that she has a sense of humor,” said junior Miranda Barkho. “AP Chemistry is a difficult class, but she has a way of making it entertaining.”
Ms. Kitzmann did not originally intend on teaching; in fact, she was not necessarily interested in chemistry. Ms. Kitzmann excelled in many subjects and was unsure of what she wanted to major in. While attending Taylor University, Ms. Kitzmann met a professor whose passion for chemistry changed her opinion of the subject. Similarly, she hopes that through her energy and enthusiastic teaching style she can spark an interest in chemistry in her students.
“I try to develop everything from the perspective of the student,” said Ms. Kitzmann. “I don’t expect everybody to develop the same passion that I have, but I hope that they don’t hate chemistry.”
She utilizes various techniques such as notes, labs, demonstrations, and videos to present the topic in multiple aspects catered to different learning styles.
“Ms. Kitzmann has a vast knowledge of chemistry and she delivers the material in a way that everyone can understand,” said junior Marium Aoun.
Ms. Kitzmann’s students are always on her mind. She spends most of her time constructing new ways to teach a lesson or grading assignments.
“I’m a chemistry geek and I will admit it,” said Ms. Kitzmann. “Sometimes I’ll be driving or showering and I’ll get this big hit of inspiration.”
Ms. Kitzmann received the 2014 James Bryant Conant Award in High School Chemistry Teaching. Each year, one teacher is honored with this prestigious award. It recognizes and encourages outstanding teachers to continue changing the lives of America’s youth. Ms. Kitzmann traveled to Dallas, Texas to receive her award. When accepting the award she presented “Kathy’s Favorite Chemistry Things,” which addressed all of her favorite features about teaching and chemistry, such as her favorite compound, water, element, fluorine, and more.
Ms. Kitzmann prefers to challenge her students to enrich their minds. She makes homework increasingly difficult to help students develop a sense of inquisitiveness. This strategy, along with her love for the subject, made Ms. Kitzmann the perfect candidate for the award.
“I want to put responsibility back on my students to ask questions,” said Ms. Kitzmann.
When Ms. Kitzmann is not in the lab, she is assisting in theater production. She was previously involved in a duo and a band, where she played the cello, piano, and the guitar. Now she plays in the worship band at her church. Ms. Kitzmann’s true love is music.
“Chemistry is my vocation, but music is my avocation,” said Ms. Kitzmann. “Music keeps me sane.
The passion and drive she has to teach chemistry overrides the constant stress of the school year, making all of her work worth it.
“The rewarding aspects of being a teacher are when you find out that students do value what they have learned in your class,” said Ms. Kitzmann. “They validate it when they come back from college and they’re the stars of their class.”
Follow the link to watch a video of Ms. Kitzmann conducting a demonstration by dissolving precipitates. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdw_PFUAzpY&feature=youtu.be