The Calvert Catholic Schools family is mourning the sudden death of a teacher who was described as a person who was loved and respected by students and who helped when needed without having to be asked.
Ray Stearns, 55, who had taught physics, chemistry and physical sciences classes at Calvert High School, died Tuesday. He advised National Honor Society and the quiz bowl team, coached the bowling team, was a mentor teacher, helped with staff licensing and chaperoned dances.
"He did so much around here. He loved this place," said math teacher Cindy Lucius.
Stearns was sent home sick Monday. He never had missed a day due to sickness during his 16 years at Calvert until this week. He returned to school Monday evening to prepare for the person who was to substitute for him the next day.
"He believed in the Calvert spirit," said Tami Weber, administrative assistant.
Weber said the school got word of Stearns' death after school. Superintendent/Principal Gerald Schoen said the school system notified people of his death Tuesday evening and had counselors and priests available if anyone who needed to talk.
Weber said the school had a Mass Wednesday morning, and everyone cried and prayed together. She said students were joyous about talking about Stearns and reminiscing Wednesday.
The cafeteria staff erected a bulletin board featuring a photo of Stearns from his childhood, and people could write messages on it. It was on a wall just across the room from where Stearns would help with concession stand duties.
Weber said if someone needed help, he was there without having to be asked, and he helped her in the office every day. If help was needed selling tickets for an athletic event, one just had to tell him what time to arrive.
"(He was) such a good, good man. He was always in the office (during his planning period)," she said.
Patty Hayes, religion teacher, said students talked about many traditions Stearns had started and are concerned about continuing them. Students and faculty requested the light in his classroom remain on throughout the night, Weber said.
"He was here day and night," she said.
Stearns greeted students at the school after football games and waved goodbye to them in the parking lot after school every day.
"We were an extension of his family. He loved his family so much," Weber said.
Theresa Sullivan, religion teacher, said Stearns loved the students and would ask how they were doing after they graduated.
"He remembered them very well," Lucius said.
Schoen, who started at the school system in July, said Stearns was one of the first teachers he met. There is going to be a big void that won't be filled by hiring another science teacher, and Stearns was a big part of the school culture at Calvert, he said.
"This was his home," he said.