Gene Norton ’60 Retires from Reinhardt University After Serving More than 53 Years as an Educator
After serving more than 53 years as an educator, Gene Norton has retired from Reinhardt University. A celebration was recently held in his honor to celebrate his many years of service and dedication to Reinhardt and the Cherokee County School System.
“What a way to end a journey of 53 total years in education!,” said Norton. “Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed with the heartfelt presentations. Many tears of love and appreciation were shed that day on all sides. It’s a day that I will always remember.”
Five of Norton’s former students spoke about him at the event, and he was officially inducted into Reinhardt’s Price School of Education Teacher Hall of Fame. He was also presented a beautifully bound notebook filled with letters and cards from former students and faculty members inducting him into “their” Teacher Hall of Fame.
“I have had a passion to see all of my students succeed.”
“For the past 23 years I have been truly blessed to be a part of Reinhardt University’s Price School of Education adjunct faculty,” he said. “Over the years I have taught several hundred students who aspired to be teachers of young people. From the very beginning of my journey as a teacher at Reinhardt, I have had a passion to see all of my students succeed. My teaching philosophy has been quite simple but very important, ‘my students will rise to my level of expectancy.’” I have had high expectations for every student who entered my classroom.
“From the first day I began teaching at Reinhardt, I made it a point to get to know my students. I wanted to know about their family, their likes and dislikes. I always made an effort to be able to call them by their first name the very next time we met. This helped to bring about a closeness and feeling of trust to our class. My students learned early on that I wanted every one of them to succeed and that it took us all working together to have a successful and productive class.”
Norton, a Reinhardt alumnus and Cherokee County native, has served Reinhardt in numerous roles. Most recently and for the past 23 years, he has been an adjunct instructor in the Price School of Education. He is currently a member of the Academic Affairs Committee, Teacher Ed. Council, and the PSOE Advisory Board. Norton previously served as President for the Alumni Board of Governors; Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Trustees; and as Co-President of the PSOE Advisory Board.
“I have been blessed to work with some of the most dedicated University administrators, Board of Trustees, professors, and staff members any college or university could have,” Norton said. “I am proud to be a Reinhardt Alumni.”
Prior to teaching at Reinhardt, Norton taught and coached at the elementary and middle school level from 1960-69, and he served as Principal of Holly Springs Elementary School from 1969-76. From 1977-80, he was the Superintendent of the Cherokee County School System, and from 1980-88, he acted as Regional Director, and from 1988-90, as Division Director for the State Department of Education. Norton served as Associate Director of North Ga. RESA from 1990-2002. Norton was also a consultant for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and a member of the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors.
His awards and honors include: 1964 and 1972 named Outstanding Young Men in Cherokee County; 1970 Outstanding Young Educator Award; 1980 Reinhardt Distinguished Alumnus Award; and 2001 Distinguished Leadership Award for State of Ga., presented by SACS.
Norton is a 1958 graduate of Cherokee High School. He earned an Associate in Arts from Reinhardt in 1960, a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from North Georgia College in 1965, and a Master in Administration and Supervision from Western Carolina University in 1968.
The Gene Norton Scholarship
In 2006, the Gene Norton Scholarship was established by the late Dr. Robert Driscoll, Reinhardt’s former vice president for academic affairs, who was very instrumental in developing this scholarship to help honor the outstanding education majors at Reinhardt. The scholarship provides funds for students in the Price School of Education (PSOE) so to honor Norton’s service to the University. It was first awarded in 2012 to then senior Emily (Burgess) Ingram ’13.
“His accomplishments in the field of education were, and continue to be, so incredible, that I hope one day I can be a fraction of the educator he has been,” said Ingram, when awarded the scholarship in 2012. “There are just those people that gain a special place in your heart by their generosity and loving nature. Mr. Norton is without a doubt one of those people. He is an outstanding teacher who cares deeply about each and every student. Receiving the scholarship in his name was truly the most humbling honor I have ever received throughout my years of schooling.”
Recent recipients of the of the Gene Norton Scholarship in Education included Danielle Richards and Haley Satterfield in 2013 and Bonnie Abernathy and Eric Burkhalter in 2014.
Norton and his wife, Yvonne Harris Norton ’60, have two children, Rick and Jill, and two grandchildren, Sydney and Riley. In his retirement years, Norton plans to stay active as a Reinhardt alumni with the Price School of Education Advisory Board and as a member of the Academic Affairs Committee. He and his wife plan to vacation with their children and grandchildren at least twice a year, and also be available to help family when needed.