GHS says goodbye and thank you to Tim Kearns


Maria Kotob

History teacher Tim Kearns: We think the world of him!

CAROLINE ENOS, Staff Writer, Editor

When a student walks into GHS history teacher Tim Kearns’ classroom, the first thing they’ll hear is a booming voice, maybe the jingle of a service bell, and laughter.

“I always tell students on the first day of class that there will be a lot of bad jokes and laughing is considered class participation,” said Kearns. “Life is serious, history is serious, but humor alleviates stress for a lot of people and makes the time go by faster. If we have to be here learning together, we might as well have fun while we’re doing it.”

The most memorable conversations spurred in his class often come from Kearns’ cold opener to the day’s lesson, his infamous “Today in History.”

Yet on June 14th, Kearns will introduce one of the most current and special events ever featured on his “Today in History.”

“My last ‘Today in History’ for my last class will be June 14th, so I will be one of my own ‘Today in History’ events,” said Kearns.  

After a 31 year teaching career, thousands of students, and too many memories to count, Tim Kearns is retiring.

When asked about Kearns, the first thing ninth grade history teacher Shaun Goulart explained to his students was Kearns’ favorite segment to the day’s lesson.

“He does ‘Today in History’ every day to talk about the good old days, like when he remembers the cotton gin being invented, and before that when he helped build the Erie Canal,” said Goulart.

“I wasn’t alive for all of these events, you have to understand,” said Kearns, “but sharing my knowledge of those events, the impact of those events, and how those events helped shape the lives of those sitting in front of me in some way or fashion is important to show how history still has meaning in the grand scheme of things.”

Kearns’ influence has impacted his students, his colleagues, and the school on many levels.

“He’s been a big part of the building, both in the social and physical aspects of it,” said history teacher Rich Francis. “We met in 1998. He was wearing a baseball jacket and we were talking about coaching. He told me to come interview for a coaching job at GHS, and interviewing for a coaching job turned into becoming a substitute, which eventually turned into a full time teaching job here. I owe him my career.”

Almost every current teacher in the history department has been a student teacher under Kearns, or has been hired with his help.

“What am I not going to miss about him?” said history teacher Phil Cook. “Well, I guess I won’t miss getting punched in the arm by him, but that hasn’t happened since Goulart got hired.”

Every teacher who was asked about Kearns went on about him, the experiences they’ve shared together, and the impact he has had on them as individuals with an obvious high regard for the retiring teacher.

“One day I was sitting in on his class when I was his student teacher,  and the students were supposed to take a quiz,” said Goulart to his E-block class with a chuckle.  “The kids started asking him to explain parts of the outline and he went off into long answers that took up a lot class time. The kids were giggling, and I thought ‘Wow, these kids are getting him to talk the entire class so they don’t have to take the quiz. They’re playing him and he doesn’t even know it!’ The bell rang and he said they’d take the quiz tomorrow, and once they all left, I told him what they were doing. He said, ‘I don’t even have the quiz made. I was just trying to get them to review.’ He was the one playing them!” said Goulart, who would find that his own students’ interest in hearing about Kearns would span the entire class period.

But it was clear that the students’ intrigued and giddy reactions to Kearns’ comical roles in Goulart’s stories and short films, as well as Goulart’s eagerness to tell them about Kearns, was genuine.

“People think I’m a nuisance to him- and I think to a degree I am- but people don’t realize how good of a relationship we have outside of work,” said Goulart.

“I want to thank him,” said Francis. “We’ll all miss him.”

While Kearns was a UPS driver for almost a decade, it is no surprise that his true passions in life are history, which he attributes to his mother’s love for the subject, and teaching.

Kearns has been at GHS for the past 21 years, and has taught AP U.S. History here for 20 years (with 70  percent of his students getting qualifying scores on the AP test), as well as Government, Civics, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, U.S. History, and World History. He was also a moderator for the Model United Nations for ten years.

He taught briefly in Maryland and at several other schools, and was even featured in the 1988 issue of “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.” Kearns has also been the freshman and varsity coach for the GHS boys baseball team, and is finishing out his last season here as the junior varsity coach.

“I’m very grateful for having the opportunity to have fulfilled a life ambition. I wanted to be a teacher and it took a while,” said Kearns. “I’ve been, I think, a successful teacher, a good teacher, and I think I’ve been fair. And I’ve survived over 2,500 students these past 31 years, which has been an achievement in and of itself.”

Many of Kearns’ students are grateful for the impact Kearns has had on them.

“I think Mr. Kearns is a great teacher,” said sophomore Alexander Oaks. “I think his experience and insight will be missed at GHS and I know he’ll do great in whatever he does next.”

Kearns’ student, Hunter Wieckowski, says he will miss more than just his current history class.

“Today in History has a lot of interesting, fun facts, and if I know the answer it makes me feel really special,” said Wieckowski. “I’ll really miss them, but I’ll miss Mr. Kearns because he’s a friendly face to see in the halls.”

The most important thing Kearns hopes his students take away from his class, however, is not a famous name or significant event featured on his “Today in History.”

“You make your own personal history with the things you do, the decisions that you make, the things that you decide not to do, and it all blends into a much larger history,” said Kearns.

When June 14th finally rolls around, another page of history will turn to reveal a new chapter for students, the GHS history department, and Kearns himself. But for those whom Kearns has had a part in shaping their personal history, it is clear that the significance of this specific day in history, and this specific teacher, will live on long after he leaves.

“To my past students, I would say thank you for putting up with me, for laughing at a lot of bad jokes,” said Kearns. “It has been a very fast 31 years of teaching.”