Nancy Stearns is named new principal at Switzerland County Middle School

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Switzerland County Middle School got a new principal Monday night at the school board meeting; and she is Nancy A. Stearns, who was approved unanimously by the board.

“I know that this is the highlight of my teaching career so far,” Nancy Stearns said as she continued to settle into her new office on Tuesday morning. “Everyone here is so warm and personable. I’m just glad to be here.”

The board’s approval on Monday night came after superintendent Tracy Caddell appointed a committee, which was headed by assistant superintendent Darin Gullion, to interview candidates and then bring three finalists to the school board.

At Monday night’s meeting, the superintendent said that there were 10 applicants for the principal’s post.

Nancy Stearns was the recommendation of both the committee and the school board.

Born in Connecticut, Nancy Stearns moved to Indiana with her family when she was six years old. She was raised on the family farm near Brownstown, and graduated from Seymour High School in 1974.

She attended Indiana University Southeast, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees there. She also earned her specialist degree there that earned her a principal’s license; and also took classes through a variety of colleges and universities from IUPUI to Berkeley, California as a part of her furthering her education.

For the past 16 years she has been a teacher in the Austin School System; teaching for 12 years at the middle school and the past four years at the high school. A science teacher, Nancy Stearns has taught general science as well as biology, chemistry, and physics.

She also has a broad base of educational experiences outside of the classroom.

“I’ve worked a lot with curriculum at both the middle school and the high school,” she said. “I have served on the school improvement committee; I’m part of the ‘Top Hat’ consortium; and I have been to North Central Conferences in Chicago to learn about school accreditation and what good schools are doing to be better.”

Nancy Stearns also worked with video conferencing technology while at Austin.

She said that through the technology, she was able to connect Austin students with other high school students all over the world. The conferencing sessions allowed her students to interact and learn more about what teens of the same age were focusing on in other parts of the world.

“It allowed the students to have a dialogue with other students about being kids and what their perceptions of school were,” Nancy Stearns said. “It was interesting for our students to see other viewpoints about the value of education.”

Nancy Stearns said that the video conferencing technology allowed her to bring professors from Indiana University into her classroom to talk with students about specific areas of interest; and classrooms in other parts of the country were able to watch her students perform different experiments and other tasks.

Nancy Stearns and her husband, Mike – whom she refers to as “My best friend” – have three children and two grandchildren. Mike Stearns is a heavy equipment operator in Louisville.

Outside of school, Nancy Stearns says that she and her husband enjoy playing golf – although family responsibilities have kept her off of the golf course for the past two years.

They also own two farms: a 68-acre farm in Jackson County where soy beans and corn are grown; and a nine-acre orchard that the couple just purchased that they are in the process of rehabilitating into a working orchard.

She also enjoys playing with her grandchildren; sewing; and is an avid reader. She works in her garden; and also admits to being a piano player (“You probably wouldn’t want to hear me,” she laughs).

For now, Nancy Stearns has been busy familiarizing herself with the school and the community. She’s already in her office at the middle school; and is overseeing the summer school program as well as various tasks that need to be finished before school starts this fall,

She’s also been meeting members of her staff; and has been impressed with the professionalism that she has seen along with the friendliness and willingness to help.

“Everyone seems like they’re here for the kids,” Nancy Stearns said. “It’s wonderful to be here and I’m looking forward to my new position.”