Capital Region Scrapbook: Teacher of gifted and talented had starring role as Copernicus

Teacher Kim McCarthy decided to bring the European genius Copernicus to her classroom — in spirit, a
Schoharie Elementary School teacher Kim McCarthy, dressed as the 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, holds a model of the universe in 1987.
Schoharie Elementary School teacher Kim McCarthy, dressed as the 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, holds a model of the universe in 1987.

Nicolaus Copernicus was not around to teach Kim McCarthy’s students about the heavens in 1987. The early astronomer had departed for the stars in 1543.

McCarthy decided to bring the European genius to her classroom — in spirit, anyway — for part of Schoharie Elementary School’s gifted and talented program in 1987. She wore a long black robe, black feathered cap and a borrowed wig to masquerade as old Nick, and explained the Copernican theory of the universe.

“I think it made Copernicus and the period in which he lived more real to them,” McCarthy said. “They learned that Copernicus not only lived centuries ago but that he must have felt bad when people didn’t believe the theories he knew were correct. That touched the children much more.”

McCarthy’s plan for the gifted and talented program was to inspire creativity, library research, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. For space fans, McCarthy had some away missions in mind. The kids who listened to “Ms. Copernicus” also traveled to the Schenectady Museum and Planetarium and later conducted their own research on the earth’s solar system.

McCarthy remains on the staff at Schoharie Elementary.

Categories: Life and Arts

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