Pacelli honors alumni, names teacher of the year

Published 4:34 pm Saturday, November 17, 2018

Congratulations to the newest inductees to Pacelli’s Hall of Honor and Pacelli Teacher of the Year. These individuals were honored at Pacelli’s Annual Gala on Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Hormel Historic Home.

Jim ’55 and Joan Hayden

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Jim Hayden was born in Austin and attended Queen of Angels Catholic School for Grades 1-9 and Pacelli for grades 10-12. He graduated from Pacelli in 1955. Joan Hayden was born in Caledonia and moved to Algona as a child. She attended Catholic schools in grades 1-12 and graduated from St. Celia’s Academy in Algona. Jim and Joan came together as a team in 1961 when they married. Joan received her BA in elementary education at UNI.  She taught in Rochester and then, after moving to Austin, became a fixture in the Catholic schools. Joan taught Faith Formation, she did substitute teaching, she worked full-time, part-time, wherever the schools and churches needed her.

Finally, she settled into her calling, that of a full time reading teacher for Austin Catholic Schools.  Joan has taught countless young students to read.  Jim completed his associates degree at Austin Jr. College, spent two years in cadet training with the Air Force and then returned to college at Mankato State, where he received his BA in art education K-12.  He also completed his masters in art and ceramics at UNI.  Jim taught in Alden, Mason City, and Illinois State University and finally ended up in Austin in 1968.  Jim taught art at almost every school in Austin, but spent most of his teaching career at Ellis Middle School.  He retired from teaching in 1998. The crowning glory of Jim’s artistic talents is the designing of the Annual Pacelli Benefit Auction sets.  Starting in 1992, Jim was called upon to share his talents in designing fantasyland settings for numerous auction themes which he has done faithfully and joyfully for many years. Jim also provided sets for Pacelli Singer Renaissance dinner theaters, Pacelli choral presentations at the Paramount Theater and school float decorations for Fourth of July parades.

Keith ’68 and Chris Leif

Keith and Chris Leif are part of a four generation Pacelli family. Keith’s dad, Bud, graduated from Pacelli in 1938. Keith graduated from Pacelli in 1968.  Keith and Chris’s middle child, Kelly, graduated from Pacelli in 1998, and grandsons Landon and Dylan are due to graduate from Pacelli in 2028! In 1969, while attending Austin Junior College, Keith met his future bride, Chris.

They married in 1973 and raised three wonderful children, Tony, Kelly, and Kari, all who attended and graduated from St. A’s and Pacelli. Keith and Chris, as a family, have been involved as part of the Pacelli family for the past 36 years. They have enjoyed many dinners, auctions, golf outings, plays, concerts, after prom parties, class field trips, homecomings, school Masses and sporting events too numerous to mention. Keith and Chris continue to be familiar faces around the school and at school events. And every January, Keith will continue to be known as the “Christmas Tree Man” as he rounds up volunteers and trucks for the annual Pacelli Christmas tree pick-up!

William Taufic ‘73

September 1969, the second week of freshman year at Pacelli, Bill Taufic walked into the newspaper advisor’s office and spoke with Mary Crandall,his English teacher. Bill said that he wanted to be a journalist and write for the paper. She said, “We do not need any writers, but we really need a photographer,” and Bill said, “Ok, I guess I will try that,” at which point began Bill’s life’s work. For the next four years ,taking pictures for the newspaper and yearbook became Bill’s focus, the darkroom in the janitor’s closet his second home. Over the years, Bill has worked as an international photographer. He owns his own corporate photography business that has taken him on a 35 year period of traveling the world to make images for international corporations’ publications and websites. Bill recently learned of the vast changes happening in Austin, his hometown.  People from over 50 places on the planet are now living their lives here, and despite the sad division that is happening all over our country, many Austin residents have rallied to establish organizations to help the newcomers become part of the community as new Americans.  Bill felt the call to tell this story to the rest of the world, so other communities might learn that life is better if it is lived together. Bill shares that he is indebted to Austin. He hopes to give back to the community, one of the best places to live in America, by producing a book of real American stories called “Our Austin, Our America.” Bill gives many thanks to Austin and Pacelli for this wonderful life.

Sara McMahon — Pacelli Teacher of the Year 

Over the past five years, Pacelli’s childcare and preschool program has experienced exceptional growth and development.  While this growth has been a system wide effort, one person has dedicated countless hours, not just to get Pacelli Early Childhood to where it is today, but to promote and recruit families, make a name for Shamrock Zone and Pacelli Preschool in the community, and provide a successful feeder program for Pacelli’s K-12th grade system.

Pacelli’s teacher of the year loves kids, loves God, and shows it every day.  From Messy Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, Thoughtful Thursday, and Freedom Friday,  to summer car washes for the Humane Society, May Day baskets on neighborhood doors, and sometimes 40 happy birthday hearts hidden all over someone’s office reminding them they are loved, she allows children to be creative, explore, express their gratitude, and grow.  She listens to families, supports struggles students may have, and builds them up so they know they are loved and special.  According to one of many parent nominations, “She goes above and beyond to support the children of Pacelli. Because of her program our children have a safe, educational and faith-filled experience before and after school. She is there when we drop our kids off in the morning and still there when we pick them up in the evening, and always has a smile on her face. I am extremely proud to have her as part of our community and that we have a dedicated individual like her that we can trust to foster our children’s education.”

Congratulations to our 2019 Hall of Honor inductees and Teacher of the year!

If you are interested in learning more about Pacelli Catholic Schools, please visit our website at or email or call 507-437-3278 anytime during regular school hours.