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Four generations of teaching and learning
Lisa Pendergast
The Normore family

The Normore family from Labrador has produced four generations of teachers, most of who came through the Faculty of Education at Memorial University.

Levi and Tamsie Normore raised five children in L’Anse-Au-Loup, Labrador. Wanita, Wanda, Anthony Wendy and Wilma grew up in a household where education was a constant topic of discussion and completing higher education was non-negotiable. Teaching in their family began with maternal grandmother, Theresa Caines, who taught school from the 1920s to the 1940s on the Great Northern Peninsula. Father, Levi, also taught from the 1950s to early 1960s. As they each graduated from Mountain Field Central High School, all of the children headed for Memorial University. With teaching in their blood, they all decided to pursue undergraduate degrees in education. 

The Normore children enjoyed their time at Memorial and took advantage of numerous opportunities that helped them grow into their current careers. They all lived at the Burton’s Pond Apartments on campus. As a French language major, Anthony spent a semester on the French Island of Saint Pierre-et-Miquelon as a student at L’Institut de Frecker as part of an immersion program. Wanita and Wanda each spent a semester on Memorial’s Harlow Campus in Essex, England, where they completed their education internships.

All five of the Normores went on to complete master’s degrees at various Canadian universities in sub-disciplines such as teaching and learning, literacy, school policy and politics and educational leadership. Lifelong learning and hands-on classroom experience have helped shape their teaching careers.

“Just as we as teachers set expectations for our students so must we set professional goals for ourselves - to aspire to be the best possible educator for our students,” said Wanita. “Acquiring my education degree opened the door to my teaching career, but it's the progressive learning through further postsecondary education, professional development and learning through experiences that paved the road of what has been a successful teaching career.”

Wanita Normore graduated in 1979 with a bachelor of elementary education. She then completed a bachelor of arts through distance education and summer semesters. Wanita later completed a master of education degree in literacy at Mount Saint Vincent.

Anthony Normore graduated with a bachelor of arts in 1982 and a bachelor of secondary education in 1983. From there, he completed a master of arts from the Université Laval in Quebec City and a PhD in educational theory and policy from the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto.

Wanda Normore graduated in 1987 with a bachelor of primary education and a bachelor of arts in 1988. Wanda completed a master of education in literacy from Mount Saint Vincent.

Wendy Normore graduated in 1987 with a bachelor of education (elementary). After several years of teaching, Wendy completed a bachelor of arts at Memorial and a master of education in literacy from Mount Saint Vincent.

Wilma Normore graduated in 1989 with a bachelor of education (elementary). After teaching for 11 years, she decided to complete a master of education in curriculum, teaching and learning studies at Memorial.

Most of the family stayed in Newfoundland and Labrador to teach, but after more than 20 years of teaching French second language learning and French immersion, Anthony moved to the United States. He joined the faculty at Florida International University, and then to Los Angeles at California State University Dominguez Hills and California Lutheran University. He also teaches a graduate level course in law, ethics and leadership in the Summer Principal’s Academy at Teachers College-Columbia University in New York City. Anthony taught for two summers in Nepal and was a visiting professor at Seoul National University in South Korea.

With a focus in educational leadership, Anthony works with disenfranchised student populations in New York City Public Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District and Miami Dade County Public Schools. Although this is a unique experience, Anthony will tell you that the challenges teachers face in these large urban centres are not so different from issues faced in rural schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The scale of issues is different in that populations and context have varied,” said Anthony. “The culture of tolerance and poverty among students and families is much the same regardless of rural or urban, as are issues of gender, bullying, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, spirituality, religion and ageism.”

In response to some of these challenges, Anthony has worked with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Los Angeles Police Department. He also helped create a video with the California Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) and Digital OutPost video production company titled “Did you Know – School Violence?”

“The video focused on recognizing the signs of a school/campus shooter and won a 2015 Emmy Award at the annual National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences,” said Anthony.

Wanita has also faced personal challenges that crossed over into her teaching career. As a professional and a mother of three children, one with severe disabilities, she had to set realistic goals and juggle work and home life. “This life changing experience made me more aware of, and empathetic towards, challenges and needs of the diversity of students,” she said. “I was driven to be an advocate for students with special needs and for teachers. They are faced with a diversity of students every day, which can be very challenging, exhausting and sometimes frustrating for all involved.”

Anthony was asked to take on the role of department chair for special education at California State University Dominguez Hills. After reflecting on his niece’s disabilities and the challenges his sister faced raising her family, he accepted the position and it became the highlight of his career.

“When families are confronted with disabilities it becomes personal,” said Anthony. “I work with people with multiple disabilities on a daily basis and deal with families who face similar struggles as we do with my niece, and with varying degrees of support. We are the voices for those who are silent to ensure all children are fairly treated.”

Wendy also taught special education during her time at St. Paul's Elementary in Labrador.

Wanda and Wilma have had their own challenges teaching in rural communities. They both held very demanding positions in small schools where they had full time teaching duties and were also administrators, helping to run the school.

Despite the challenges they have faced in their careers, there have been more ups than downs and the Normore family still shares a passion for the teaching profession. Wanita’s son, Jonathan, is also a teacher.

“School, teaching and education have always been the center of our discussions,” said Wanita. “We are fortunate to have a wealth of resourceful people within our own family who have such diverse experiences within the teaching profession and in life in general. We share our view points and experiences, and seek opinions and advice from those whom we trust most, our own family professionals.”

The Normores are lifelong learners who still take advantage of professional development opportunities and share that learning with their students. They have gone beyond teaching to take on roles as administrators, serve on school, district and department committees and have given back to the Faculty of Education by acting as co-operating teachers for the next generation.

Despite the differences in their teaching journeys, these siblings live by a common philosophy, “we as teachers are members of a teaching community who are accepting of the diversity in students. We do our best to ensure that school is a place where our students want to be, a place where they are content and have fun, a place where they are safe and cared for, a place where their ideas and efforts are valued, where they are acknowledged for their individualism and where we expect them to excel to the best of their potential.”

Jul 8th, 2015

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