The citation included on the plaque presented to the 2014 recipient of the James Bryant Conant Award in High School Chemistry Teaching reads “For her creativity, enthusiasm, and love of chemistry, inspiring students and teachers alike for over 35 years.”1 Kathy Kitzmann is all of that and more. She is well known at conferences for her silly songs and her chemistry wardrobe including themed jewelry and t-shirts that fit the topics of her lessons. Of course, the silliness and wardrobe are just part of her charismatic personality. Kathy models best practices and shares her experience with other chemistry teachers.
Kathy has been attending the biennial ChemEd conferences since 1984 and the BCCE conferences since 1996. She has consistently brought back what she has gained from those conferences and shared it with her Michigan constituents at the Michigan Science Teacher Association meetings and other chemistry groups local to her. I have personally benefitted from following Kathy as a presenter/mentor throughout my own career attending many of her presentations in our home state of Michigan. Kathy has also become involved in the national conferences that she attends.
A colleague of Kathy’s, Lisa Schrimscher, nominated her for the Conant award. An assistant principal, Colleen Rozman and a close friend that collaborates with her, Tim Fino, also supported the nomination. These three have taught, travelled and presented with Kathy, so they can attest to her wisdom, creativity and ability to inspire others.
I had the chance to interview Kathy Kitzmann and get to know her on a more personal level at the March 2014 American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas, Texas. There is an article published in JCE 2 discussing the move to publish video interviews of the Conant Award winners. The article provides a "trailer" of the interview. You can watch the video of the interview and get to know Kathy a little better for yourself.