Mrs. Julie Ortiz, who currently teaches at St. John Berchmans Catholic School in San Antonio, and Mrs. Geralyn Klimitchek, who has taught her entire career at Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Hallettsville, are the 2023 Texas Catholic Conference Bishops' Elementary Teacher of the Year and High School Teacher of the Year, respectively.
Elementary Teacher of the Year
Julie Ortiz is in her 11th year of teaching at St. John Berchmans Catholic School in San Antonio. Currently she teaches fifth grade and Religion to third and eighth graders. In addition to her classroom responsibilities, she coaches cross country and track and field and sponsors the garden club, CHEF Culinary Health School, serves as the school's religion coordinator and coordinates the Catholic Arts and Academic Competition (CAAC).
Mrs. Ortiz is not only dedicated to the spiritual development of each child in her care; she exhibits an extraordinary ability to promote exceptional academic growth in each child. She has an innate ability to recognize the exact instructional needs of a student and creates a natural path for them to excel. When colleagues speak of Mrs. Ortiz, some common descriptions include helpful, creative, collaborative, dedicated, enthusiastic, caring, supportive, Christian role model, and servant leader. One colleague remarked, “She does all that she does with a smile on her face and the love of Christ in her heart.”
Mrs. Ortiz was born and raised in a small country town in Central Texas located in the heart of Brown County. She attended the University of Texas at San Antonio where she received her bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies in Education with an emphasis on reading.
High School Teacher of the Year
Geralyn Klimitchek has taught seventh through 12th grades sciences at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hallettsville over the past 40 years. According to Principal Kevin Haas, “She is a wonderful example of a true Christian. She always ties the Catholic faith into her daily lessons, while providing examples and reasoning of why/how faith ties into science and God's plans." In addition to teaching responsibilities, she has served as sponsor for the Junior High Student Council and National Honor and Junior Honor Society.
Mrs. Klimitchek is an example of service to the church by being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and a substitute organ player for the school Masses and Masses at the rest home. She works with students on service projects for the school, nursing home, and the community. She lives according to her Catholic faith and demonstrates this to the students by her dedication to her vocation of teaching. A colleague stated, “Geralyn continues to build upon the legacy of service that began with the founding Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament more than 140 years ago. Never one to rest on her laurels, this teacher continually tries to improve her teaching methods so that her students can benefit from the educational experience they receive at Sacred Heart.”
Mrs. Klimitchek was raised in Flatonia, Texas. After graduating high school, she attended Southwest Texas State and received her bachelor’s degree, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. She received her master’s degree majoring in education and minoring in biology and guidance and counseling. She holds several lifetime teaching certificates in Secondary Biology, Secondary Chemistry, Secondary Science Composite and Secondary Life Earth Science.