ELLA M. STEARNS.
The peculiar rewards accruing to a person who follows the profession of teaching for a long number of years are
not great, but the honor and satisfaction of knowing that one has accomplished a great deal of good and molded
many minds to the right way of living and thinking, more than compensates for the lack of large compensation. While
it is true that the rank and file of teachers are not paid in the same ratio that those who follow other learned
professions are rewarded, yet there are, as in other vocations, high places for those who are deserving. "There
is always room at the top," is a tried and true saying, and it might be added that the top is never overcrowded
with the really capable. One of the recognized leaders in the teaching profession, one who has risen to a high
place in her chosen life work, is Ella M. Stearns, county superintendent of schools for Audubon county.
Ella M. Stearns was born in Oxford county, Maine, daughter of Stephen B. and Mary (Gordon) Stearns, the former
of whom was a native of Oxford county, Maine, and the latter a native of Freyburg, Maine. Following the death of
Stephen B. Steams, his family, in 1874, emigrated to Michigan, and two years later, in 1876, the sons, Stephen,
Sewell and H. Wilbur, came to Audubon county in order to make a permanent home. Mrs. Stearns came on later to join
them in making a home and died at the home in Luccocks Grove not long after her arrival in the county. Stephen
and Sewell went further west after some years of residence here and Stephen now resides in Kansas City and Sewell
is located in Tacoma, Washington. There were nine children in the Stearns family, all of whom but four remained
in the East. These children, besides the subject of this sketch, are George, residing at Spring Creek, Pennsylvania;
J. C., living at Lovell Center, Maine; Mrs. Carrie Leighton, of Indianapolis; Mrs. Belle Hurlman, of Great Falls,
Maine; Mrs. Sarah Stearne, of Lovell Center, Maine; Stephen, a resident of Kansas City; Sewell, of Tacoma, Washington,
and H. W., formerly a resident of Audubon county, who recently died, was one of the well known citizens of the
county, and left four children, Virgil, Mereber, Helen and Russell.
Ella M. Stearns was educated in the high school of Ludington, Michigan, the Bloomfield Normal School, and the State
Teachers College at Cedar Falls, Iowa. She studied in the various schools and colleges while teaching and practically
made her own way. Miss Stearns taught her first school in a board shanty in Douglas township, Audubon county. This
shanty was put up roughly and was covered with tar paper roofing, a good example of the makeshift school buildings
of the time. Her next school was taught in an old granary, which sufficed for a temple of learning in Viola township.
She also taught the "Jack Whipple" school in Lincoln township and taught likewise in rural schools in
Leroy and Melville township. She became so well and favorably known throughout the county as an able and forceful
teacher that her services became greatly in demand and positions were offered her in various parts of the county.
While teaching in the Exira schools, a position which had come without solicitation on her part, she was offered
a situation in the Audubon schools. She accepted and for a number of years was at the head of the city grammar
school, later serving as principal of the high school and teacher of English. Miss Stearns served for twenty three
years in the Audubon schools, and it was only natural that she should eventually assume the highest position in
educational circles possible within the gift of the people of Audubon county. In January of 1907 she became county
superintendent of schools for Audubon county and has since then continuously served in this important capacity.
During her administration the public schools have made marked progress and modern methods are in evidence in practically
every district in the county.
Miss Stearns is a member of the Presbyterian church. She takes an active part in the affairs of the "P. E.
O." and the Columbian Club and the Woman's Club of Audubon and is universally esteemed by all classes in Audubon
county for her many excellent qualities and her ability as an educator. Despite the fact that her teaching experience
has been longer than most teachers of the county, she has never allowed her energy and determination to flag, or
herself to retrogade intellectually or mentally, and she has kept pace with the latest developments in her profession.
History of Audubon County, Iowa
Its People, Industries and Instutions
H. F. Andrews, Editor
B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Indianapolis - 1915
Also see [ Railway Officials in America 1906
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