Lili Wortmann ‘21
As another year comes to an end, and many students are getting ready to graduate and begin their journeys outside of the halls of Riverview, yet another important event is occurring--the retirement of one of the school’s most beloved teachers, Pat Bliss, who has taught English and advised the Ram Page for 41 years. She exemplifies everything a teacher should be, with her passion for guiding and encouraging students to pushing them to be persistent and inform students of the news.
Bliss started teaching in 1977 in Ocala.
“I wanted to teach all my life, and my dad was a teacher,” she said. “When I was a little kid, I had my parents buy me a cheap little wig, and I started this little remedial school in our basement. I got all the little kids in the neighborhood to come, but about halfway through the first day, they figured out who I was, and they all ran away. I had my room all fixed up and lesson plans to go,” she said.
When she was asked why she decided to retire this year she said, “It was better to go now, while my husband and I are healthy enough and can fulfill our plans to go and travel on Route 66 from one end to the other-- not all in one year but take chunks of it different times. We also want to go on a cruise through the Panama Canal, over to California and then fly home. I really want to do because I am hoping to get on Wheel of Fortune, that's my dream,” she said.
At first when she was asked what her favorite memory will be, she said she could not choose just one. Her daughters have always been a part of it, though.
"My daughters--every time I came to work in the evening, they came with me. For the football games, they came with me, and they used to have little Ram cheerleader uniforms and cheer on the sidelines. I mean they lived and breathed Riverview from the time they could walk. They both decided to go into teaching, and to have them teach at Riverview has been the highlight of my life,” she said.
She shared another memory of her husband, Rick.
“My husband got down on one knee during my planning period and asked me to marry him,” she said. That was in 1981.
Years later, both of her daughters were born on Ram Page deadlines.
Another special person was asked what she loved about working with Bliss, and that was Maureen Finley, engineering teacher and Bliss' older daughter.
“Since starting here as a freshman to my first day as a teacher, she has been here for me all along the way. The best part I would say is that as a coworker, I have been able to eat lunch with her and collaborate professionally, not something that a lot of people get to do with a parent.
Also, Sheila Galanis, Bliss’ younger daughter and Spanish 2/ESOL teacher at Riverview, said “My favorite part of my mom’s career is how she has influenced so many people. Not only has she dedicated the last four decades of her life to education, but more importantly she has played a major role in the lives of many of her students,” Galanis said.
“I remember as a child, coming to her classroom after school with my sister. I loved every moment of watching her interact with her Ram Page staff. My mother is more than willing to do any task that will help others. She is the most giving and generous mother and teacher of life, a true Lady Ram,” Galanis added.
Despite the humble nature of Bliss, it is undeniable that she has had a plethora of accomplishments during her 44 years at Riverview. When asked about particular accomplishments in her long career as adviser of an award-winning student newspaper, Bliss mentioned that she was a finalist in the national 1992 Dow Jones Teacher-of-the-Year competition as well as being named the 1989 Riverview High School Teacher of the Year. She was also a presenter at Columbia University for the 2001 Columbia Scholastic Press Association convention.
It's sad to hear when a model teacher and a true beacon for kindness, and motivation is retiring because she has uplifted and encouraged so many students to keep on writing about the world around them. Even though she is leaving Riverview, she will always be a part of the Riverview family she first joined when she entered as a student in tenth grade, and the Riverview community would like to thank her for her commitment to building a safe and fantastic place where students and teachers can flourish. She will be greatly missed!
Daughters Sheila Galanis and Maureen Finley joined ‘99 Ram Page editor Jen Loomis in an after-school pre-retirement get-together on May 28. Loomis is a teacher and Dean at The Classical Academy.