by Jesse Mitchell, staff writer

Pictured is Ms. Cairns (left) and her family at an event for a cancer foundation. Outside of her professional life, Cairns enjoys spending time with her husband (right) and family. She has two daughters, one is a sophomore in high school (middle) and the other is a junior in college. Cairns also considers her two dogs, Zeus and Aphrodite, and her cat, Phoebe, as members of her family. Photo provided by Melissa Cairns

FEBRUARY 2022 – Ms. Melissa Cairns is one of Bio-Med Science Academy’s newest hires, joining the school as the new 10th grade Integrated Math instructor. Cairns joined the sophomore team this summer alongside four other teachers who are also new to Bio-Med.

Cairns brought veteran teaching experience to her new position at Bio-Med, having taught for more than 20 years. She first became a teacher in 2004 when she graduated from Kent State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. Cairns would go on to teach off and on for the next 20 years, until she would later earn her Master of Science in Applied Mathematics in 2019.

After getting her master’s degree, Cairns didn’t plan to come back to teaching, wanting to go in a different direction with her career. However, “the longer I was away from students, the more I missed being in the school, and I missed my students so much that I decided to come back,” Cairns said.

Cairns was on a vacation in the summer of 2021 when she first learned about the open teaching position at Bio-Med. She left her vacation two days to interview for the position at Bio-Med as its new Integrated Math 10 teacher. “I interviewed on a Friday. I started on a Monday,” she said when explaining how she was hired as a teacher at Bio-Med.

She was excited to take on the math 10 teaching position, as Cairns has always taught and enjoyed math, describing herself as a “one-trick pony.” “Math is something that always came easy to me,” Cairns said. She was always someone friends and siblings came to for help with math, so she felt that “it was just kind of like a natural transition, to go into teaching.” That’s why throughout her career, that’s what she taught and is excited to teach it to new students at Bio-Med.

The position first interested Cairns because of Bio-Med’s integrated STEM curriculum, and she appreciated the way the curriculum was being taught. “I think ideally, for the students, this is how education should be, things should be taught, integrated, because that’s how the world works,” Cairns said.

Cairns appreciates Bio-Med’s curriculum structure, though she noted, “this is very different than any way that I’ve taught.” Cairns further went on to talk about how when entering the Bio-Med system, it was challenging to plan out curriculum and integration with different subjects, saying “it’s a lot more planning on the teachers’ part.” However, Cairns has embraced this challenge, believing, “it’s good for the students and the teachers to see how certain topics can go across the curriculum.”

She is excited to see the ways math can be taught differently and integrated more with other content areas.

Cairns has been welcomed by the community and has been settling in at the school. Early this year, Cairns started Run Club after she noticed the lack of athletic clubs at Bio-Med. Cairn’s Run Club is made up of a small group of students spanning multiple grades, and she works with them to teach about healthy living. The club does different workouts, exercises, yoga, and running activities in their weekly meetings. “Running has provided for my life; it goes beyond just the physical health. It’s emotional and spiritual well-being also,” she said. Being able to provide that for students was her principal inspiration.

Pictured is Cairns at Arches National Park. Cairns appreciates the outdoors and enjoys any moment she can get to be out in nature. Cairns is an avid runner who has done many runs and hikes across the country traveling to numerous national and state parks. Yoga is another activity that she enjoys in addition to running, as yoga, “really helped me kind of navigate a lot of transformation [in life],” said Cairns. She has been teaching yoga for 15 years and owned a yoga studio while working as a paramedic. Cairns wanted to dedicate her life to helping people and he was able to do that work as a paramedic. Photo provided by Melissa Cairns

For Cairns, running has been more than a passion of hers: “Passion might not be a word that’s representative. More like an obsession.” Cairns’s father was a marathon runner and, when Cairns was younger, she promised him “that I would eventually one day run a marathon with him.” She spent her life dedicated to running and training to become a marathon runner, and within a year of training, Cairns fell into a group of people who helped her achieve her goals.

“I’ve done four 100-milers, 150-miler, I’ve crossed the Grand Canyon three times, Probably 50 5Ks, and maybe 10 marathons. Kind of started losing track,” said Cairns. For her, it’s not about the awards for completing races, but more so enjoying the journey of completing them, though she mentioned, “The belt buckles that you get for [the] 100-miler are pretty wicked.”

Cairns has had previous experience working with students in a running environment, as she used to be a cross country coach while she taught at Akron Public Schools. For Cairns, the job, “ended up being like my absolute favorite job I’ve ever had my entire life.”  

Akron Public Schools were just one of the many places Cairns has spent time at, as she taught middle school, high school, and college education. She spent time teaching at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, Ohio, and at multiple charter schools in the Akron and Cleveland regions. Throughout her entire teaching career,

Cairns is also excited about a position she’s taken outside of school as a 5k race director. “Fed Up with Cancer,” is the race she is directing this spring at Towners Woods in Kent, Ohio, in support of an organization called Collin Cares Cure Cancer. An organization that supports cancer patients and their families. Cairns and her family would get involved with the organization after her husband was diagnosed with cancer last year.

Mark Cairns, Cairn’s husband was the recipient of an award from the organization, and Cairns only felt that it was right to give back after having been supported by her community, and that’s what led to her taking on this role. That’s how she became the race director of the 5k that is being hosted by Collin Cares Cure Cancer.  

Cairns has also spent time working at a nonprofit organization that she found and ran for six years for survivors of domestic violence.

Cairns is excited about her position here at Bio-Med and the work she’ll be able to do with the school. She is looking forward to, “being able to integrate a little bit more,” and improving her curriculum to better support her future students.

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