2021 Heart of St. Luke Honoree: Stephenie Sutton
Stephenie Sutton joined the St. Luke faculty in 1990. She remembers her interview with Principal Judith Wynne was memorable and the impact long lasting. Dr. Wynne stated her goal was to allow a student with learning differences to have the opportunity to receive a Catholic education. Dr. Wynne envisioned inclusion before it became a common practice. Her vision became the mission of Mrs. Sutton.
One of Mrs. Sutton’s earliest memories occurred on November 22, 1963, as a student at St. Mary's Catholic School in Decatur, Indiana. The principal came on the PA system and announced the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This began a lifelong fascination and love of history. Her parents moved to the Chicago area when she entered 4th grade. She attended Catholic grade schools and Immaculate Heart of Mary High School. The Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary nurtured not only her faith but her self-confidence. She received her undergraduate degree in history and secondary education at Northeastern Illinois University and went on to teach for two years at Catholic high schools in Chicago. She returned to Northeastern for a master’s degree in Special Education in the area of Learning Disabilities.
While working her way through her master’s degree as a waitress at Miller’s on Kinzie, she became instantly smitten with her boss, Tom. They were married within a year. Thirty-eight years later, she says it was the best decision of her life. They slow dance each Thursday evening after cleaning the house. Tom has introduced her to following the stock market, appreciating the outdoors, boating, and the Ohio State football team. Her first time in a boat she wondered where her seat belt was located. Needless to say, the boat never goes above 10 mph when she is a passenger. Upon retirement her first trip will be to Happy Valley in Pennsylvania to see the Nittany Lions take on the Buckeyes.
Mrs. Sutton has taken on many extra responsibilities at St. Luke over the years. She was a moderator of the speech team for many years. Watching the students grow in self-assurance is a memory she will treasure. She has been on the testing committee for too many years to count. This involves assembling the materials, interpreting the data, and setting goals for the following school year.
One duty that often elicited sympathy was that of crossing guard. Mrs. Sutton decided to turn that into a positive experience, making sure to greet each child by name and begin their day on a positive note. She met many parishioners on their way to early morning Mass, too, so it was a wonderful way to connect with the St. Luke community.
Both Suttons came from large families. Mrs. Sutton is the youngest of five girls and one boy while he is the oldest of five boys and one girl. They are the proud aunt and uncle of 30 nieces and nephews and a growing number of grand-nieces and nephews. They travel to New Orleans every few years to enjoy Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral. When Ohio State makes it to the Big Ten Championship, they always attend that game in Indianapolis.
“It is overwhelming to think back on all the years I have taught and all the lives I have touched and in return touched me,” she says. “There is not a better feeling in the world to have a former student return and discuss their success in high school, college, or their chosen careers. To be invited to their weddings and share in their happiness, is a treasured memory.”
Looking back now, she says, “I could not have touched the lives of the children over the years without the support of the parents, teachers, and administration.” Some days the road can be a bit bumpy, but she has been able to make the journey a bit smoother for countless St. Luke students.