Doctors say it's a rare medical problem the flu can trigger.

Atlanta teacher who died from stroke ‘known for her love of students’

A northwest Atlanta middle school community is remembering a teacher who passed away Feb. 23 as someone who was loved and respected by her students and colleagues. 

Cathryn Ann Kearns, of Smyrna, was a sixth grade English Language Arts teacher and volleyball coach at Sutton Middle School. The 38-year-old teacher reportedly died from a stroke. 

The news of her passing was a shock to everyone who loved her, Principal Gail Johnson said in a statement posted to Facebook.

“Ms. Kearns has always been known for her love of students and her amazing passion for teaching,” Johnson said. “Her father shared with me that she had dreamed of being a teacher since she was a toddler. Without a doubt, she fulfilled that dream and more as her impact on students was incredible both in the classroom and as a coach.” 

Read and sign the online guestbook for Cathryn Ann Kearns


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Students and teachers were encouraged to wear pink or Green Bay Packers attire to school on Feb. 27, according to details for a Celebration of Life event in her honor. Kearns was “a lifelong Packers fan ... who spearheaded the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign each year” and “a treasured member of the SMS staff for 12 years,” the post said.

Kim Kozak, Kearn’s longtime friend, told Channel 2 Action News that “the kids loved her.”

Kozak said doctors weren’t able to explain why the stroke happened. The teacher recently had the flu but seemed to be in better health before the stroke, Channel 2 said. 

Studies have shown that flu is associated with an increase of heart attack and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it’s unclear if the two factors were related in this case.  

Atlanta Public Schools provided a crisis support team for students and teachers at the school. 


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