By Eleanor Sevigny
Published March 18, 2021 in The Burg
Last week was an exciting week for Mary Norton as she celebrated her 50th year of teaching.
Even though Norton has spent the last 50 years teaching, it was not Norton’s first career choice.
“I always wanted to be a nurse. I went to Southern Illinois University to study nursing. After two years I decided that nursing was not for me although a very noble profession. I decided I would be a teacher.” explained Norton.
Norton’s coworker at Costa, Chris Hill, praised Norton’s work as a teacher over the last 35 years, “Mary is one of the most dedicated teachers I have ever known. She is caring, compassionate, and an inspiration to all of us. Her students hold her in the highest esteem. Mary is responsible for so many of the good things that go on in Costa. Morning Rosary, before school starts formally for the day. Organizing the St. Vincent food drive for Thanksgiving. One of the many things I enjoy about working with Mary is her total commitment to Costa and her enthusiasm toward any task she undertakes. Mary never grumbles or complains and is always a positive role model.”
Norton did not start teaching at Costa.
“My first job as a teacher was at Saint Joseph's Academy here in Galesburg. The Academy was on S. Academy Street three blocks north of Saint Patrick’s church. After two years of teaching at
Saint Joseph’s it was closed down and I was fortunate enough to be asked to move over to Costa Catholic. Costa High School had closed down. And the building was to be used to consolidate Saint Joseph’s Academy with Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Primary School.
I started out teaching fourth grade then I had a year as a third grade teacher. When we moved to Costa I had a fifth grade homeroom and taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grade science. Because of my science courses for nursing, I had a lot of science training. I had that position for two to three years. Then Sister Joyce, the principal at that time, asked me to move to the junior high school. I taught social studies there. I even taught science in junior high for a couple of years. That ended when our principal had to leave in the middle of the year and they asked me to be principal. For two and a half years I was principal while I was seeking my masters degree in educational administration. By the time I had the degree I knew I didn’t want to be the principal. So I went back to the classroom. This time a fifth grade classroom. Eventually I moved back to the junior high and have been teaching religion since then.” Norton elaborated on her teaching career.
What has been the hardest part of teaching for Norton?
“The whole Covid-19 thing. I love that we have students in the class. But there’s a lot of fun things that we’ve done in the past that we just can’t do now or we have to alter it so it’s not quite the same.” Norton stated.
Despite the changes that Covid-19 has made to teaching, Norton can still enjoy her favorite part of teaching, “interacting with the students. Helping them learn is a great experience. I am continuing to teach because I still love it. To someone thinking about a profession as a teacher, I say go for it. It’s a lot of work, but name something worthwhile that isn’t a lot of work. The rewards are great.” Norton passionately stated.