Mapes was very special to Norm. He had never worked with elementary students prior to his coming out here. His work out here with all of you – students, teachers, parents, support staff, bus drivers, and other members of the Mapes community made a deep impression on Norm. This school helped Norm understand the needs of younger students and helped him better understand how you learn best. He loved you all a lot! In fact, when we talked about his going to W.L. McLeod this past spring he said he would only accept the job if he could continue to be your principal! I know he viewed you all as family. As I said - Mapes was very special to Norm.
Norm would often phone his sister, Susan, once or twice a week – (sometimes more!) just to brag about you kids here at Mapes or have her listen to one of you singing or for her to hear what was going on in the gym. Norm regaled us all with stories about the fun he was having out here at Mapes.
He was so proud of you - the staff, students and parents and the changes that were happening here at the school. In the three years Norm was here at Mapes, the school went from being one of the lower performing schools in the district to being the highest performing rural school during this past year. Norm gave all the credit for this improvement in learning to the staff, the parents and most importantly, you, the students!
Norman inspired those around him. He brought out the best in people. He never hesitated to ask anyone and everyone for advice - parents, custodians, teacher assistants, or teachers. Everyone was treated respectfully - everyone was important. He was so straight with everything, so honest, so sincere with no pretenses at all. When asked for advice by a teacher who was having a difficult time dealing with difficult situations his advice was always, “Be real with your kids, let them know who you are and what you care about.” With that advice he changed teachers lives, and through that, the lives of kids. Everyone wanted to do his or her very best.
Norm was a person who loved life. One could find him in the backwoods, honing his flyfishing skills or standing in front of an international audience presenting theories on leadership. His connection to people, and with a world that he loved so much, came from a great passion for life and learning.
Norm was his own person
Whatever he did, he did it because he loved it whether it was teaching, fishing, riding his Harley, cutting wood, eating a 2” T-Bone from the Counry Locker or listening to his favourite CD - he revelled in life – he would often say how much he loved his life and weren’t we all so lucky to be doing what we loved best?
I know that you will all miss Norm out here at Mapes. So will I. Our pain of his loss will lessen in time. I want to leave you with the same words Norm said at his brother Steve’s funeral a couple of years ago:
“Remember that life is short. Don’t waste it. Don’t take small bites. Swallow life whole. Devour Life. Be all you can be. Be larger than life.”
Thank you for being good listeners today.