87-Year-Old Retiring Teacher Puts On Memorable Astronomy Show For Former Students

Mike Kinney introduces us to Highland Park High School's "Star Lady."

Video Transcript

- For 41, years she has taken kids out of the classroom and out of this world. Before she closed the book on her teaching career though, she did one last astronomy show for former students and their family.

Photojournalist Mike Kinney today takes us to Highland Park High School to introduce us to Mrs. Pierce, also known as the Star Lady.

DONNA PIERCE: If we can get started. I'm just going to show you a few things.

I am Donna C. Pierce, but I am the Star Lady.

I want you to look up there in the sky. I teach astronomy, K through 12. Who knows what's in Virgo? What's the bright star?

Today is my last day, and it's hard to express that somebody, 87, can do what they love to do. And I am so blessed.

So it's bubbling gas and it cools off and it's coming.

JENNI SCOGGINS: We wanted a last show with Donna before she left and a few of us said, let's put that together. And she goes, well, you know there's room for 70. And I was like, OK, we'll fill it up for you.

DONNA PIERCE: Has everybody got the moon down?

JENNI SCOGGINS: I remember coming here when I was in first grade. You know, you always get to do it when you were a kid in elementary school and everyone was excited to be able to be here for the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon in the planetarium with Donna.

- Anything that gets caught within the black hole's the gravitational pull.

DONNA PIERCE: Who doesn't like astronomy? The kindergartners are like sponges. They're just soaking up the difference between the star and planet.

JACK BURNS: I'm really, really enthusiastic about astronomy and she's always been, like, trying to get everybody interested in it, trying to just teach everybody the best parts of it.

- 41 years.

DONNA PIERCE: I started when I was 3, now.


- Like her morale and her character is a true role model and it's been something really inspiring for a lot of kids. But I don't think anybody could ever compete with Donna Pierce.

JACK BURNS: Yeah, she is the Star Lady.


DONNA PIERCE: I feel lucky, I feel blessed.

MIKE KINNEY: You may be retired, but will you ever stop teaching?

DONNA PIERCE: I hope not because I have a goal to burn this candle as bright as I can before I pass it on.

- Beautiful piece. Mike Kinney, we thank you, our talented photojournalist. And thanks to all of our teachers out there.