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Janet Sitts, retired 2014, Valley Oak Elementary and Korematsu Elementary, Davis

Her friends knew she would become a teacher before she did.

Rick and Janet Sitts are smiling, taking a selfie with a scenic waterfall and canyon in the background. Rick has gray hair and a gray jacket. Janet has brown hair and wears a light blue jacket.
Retired teacher Janet Sitts, right, poses with her husband Rick at Yellowstone National Park. 

Janet Sitts wore many hats before fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher. Her eye for art started an early career path in print and design for University of California Davis. Her path shifted when she went to the Bay Area as an interior designer. From there, it was motherhood and a desire to start teaching.

“When my youngest daughter started school, I realized I wanted to do something more and became a teacher’s aide to follow my kids’ schedules.”

Sitts spent four years as a teacher’s aide for kindergarten through second grades at Valley Oak Elementary in Davis, and that was when the spark ignited to pursue her teaching credential. “My friends used to tell me that I would be teaching any day, and they were right. I like kids! I was spending a lot of time with them as an aide, and we bonded quickly. I wanted to be an important influence in their lives.”

Before getting her credential, she introduced another skill to students at Valley Oak and spent time teaching computer classes before the technology became commonplace. “Back when a floppy disk was really a floppy disk.” Teaching computer skills gave Sitts a chance to feel what designing a curriculum was like, giving her another reason to start teaching full time.

Sitts left Valley Oak when it turned into a high school and continued teaching third grade at Korematsu Elementary in Davis. In 2014, Sitts retired after 20 years of teaching.

What was your favorite subject to teach your students?

“I enjoyed reading, social science and math the most. PE was my least favorite, but I was lucky that other teachers would team up with me and swap their computer classes for my PE classes.”

Did you have a favorite teacher?

“I had a math teacher in junior high who taught the subject well and made it very interesting.”

What's one thing you're proud of during your teaching career? 

“I am proud that I made a connection with all my students and gave them a positive feeling about themselves. A parent once said, ‘You make every student feel like the most important person in the class.’ Talking one-on-one with the kids was important, illuminating and fulfilling.”

Rick and Janet Sitts pose before a scenic mountain valley with greenery and snow-capped peaks. Rick has gray hair and wears a dark jacket. Janet has brown hair and wears a magenta shirt.
Janet Sitts, right, and her husband Rick enjoy traveling, including to Norway. 

How is retirement going? What is your favorite thing to do now that you have extra time?

“One of my goals was to do more traveling. I’ve been to six continents! I enjoy researching for trips, and I read everything I can get my hands on—the history, what I want to eat and what I want to do. I’m a visual learner and study the maps, so I always know where we’re going. I have two trips coming up this year.

“Also, I have a new grandson, so I have been helping with childcare for him. There is nothing more special than seeing him grow and change.”

Tell us something fun about you.

“I joined a nonprofit group, University Farm Circle, and we’re in monthly meetings such as book clubs, lunch out, wine tasting, travel, antiques, etc. I made many new friends, all while raising money for college scholarships for UC Davis students.” 

What’s your best piece of advice for new teachers?

“Call each parent within the first few weeks with a positive comment about their child. Maybe they did well on a spelling test or helped a friend at recess. Once you have established a positive rapport, all other communications will go smoother.”

What would you have done differently in your teaching career?

“I would have started as a teacher earlier for the enjoyment and the nice retirement. Being a teacher is very fulfilling, and I think that’s why people do it.”

Teacher Talk is a series of profiles on California teachers and other educators. To be considered for a future profile, email with Teacher Talk in the subject line.