By Kelly Litts, Kylee McDonald, and Sophia Lopez
NOV 01, 2015
Walking into Mrs. Stearns’ classroom is like walking into a literary wonderland. It is an esoteric learning environment, reserved only for seniors who take her Advanced Placement Literature and Composition course. Any of her alumni will attest to the fact that her class is well worth the journey through the first three years of Advanced Placement English at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School (STA).
Mrs. Stearns has spent 17 years of her teaching career here at STA. Before moving to Ft. Lauderdale, she was a teacher in her home state of Michigan, but the cold drove her to sunny Florida. In total, Mrs. Stearns has been teaching for 40 years and claims that cumulatively, her students have brought her thousands of memories, all of which are her favorite.
Mrs. Stearns said “I get it. I want others to get it, too,” which is indicative of the unique teaching style that has evolved from her ability to comprehend literature at a deeper level. A few of her favorite pieces of literature include Hamlet and King Lear by William Shakespeare, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Of the many selections of literature that she teaches each year, she asserts that, luckily, “every one is her favorite.”
Though she is naturally gifted, Mrs. Stearns says she did not always want to be a teacher. She grew up dreaming of being an actress or an attorney, but she explained,“My mom told me: ‘Christine, you were born to teach.’” The defiant young lady responded that she did not even like any of her teachers, so her mother told her that she needed to “be a different kind of teacher then.” And she has done just that at STA.
Of all the exciting events that occur during the school year, there are a few special occasions that Mrs. Stearns particularly enjoys. Her favorite event of the year is prom, when she sees her seniors all grown up and ready to leave the nest. Mrs. Stearns also enjoys everything about the STA football games: the smell of the hamburgers cooking, the well trained team, the enthusiastic cheerleaders, the hot summer breeze.
Outside the realm of STA, Mrs. Stearns enjoys jogging and swimming daily. She has one daughter and three sons, and her favorite color is blue like the color of the sea and sky. Her favorite classroom item is the collection of artwork she displays on her wall, an amalgamation of many years of teaching. Another thing that can be found in her room is a book entitled The Potter Quest, with her name on the cover. Mrs. Stearns’ book explores the Christian nuances of the Harry Potter series, which was once ridiculed as “anti-Christian”, and explains its deep classical and Christian roots. Mrs. Stearns said that she “identifies most with Hermione” and likes to think that she would have been a member of the Gryffindor house.
Just as all of Mrs. Stearns’ students have touched her heart, Mrs. Stearns has left her own indelible mark on the minds and hearts of her students. Mrs. Stearns has also had a great impact on the teachers and staff throughout her years of teaching at STA. Although teaching was never her dream, it certainly became her passion and calling. For more than 40 years now, Mrs. Stearns has been encouraging students to, like herself, follow the words of Shakespeare: “to thine own self be true.”