Clinton County Board of Education will have one new member when they begin business for the 2017 school year, as Livingston, Tennessee native, but long-time Albany resident, Gary Norris was sworn in at the first of the year and was scheduled to attend his first work session on the board this Thursday.
Norris, 64, is the son of the late Anna Glynn Speck and John D. Norris. His father was a doctor in Livingston and delivered over 3,000 babies. His father’s profession is the first thing that brought Gary Norris to Albany when he came here with his father as a child. His father worked at the old Maple Hill Hospital.
Norris graduated from Livingston Academy in 1970 and received a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he played rugby and ran the athletic dorm. He later received his Masters in Elementary Education, Education Specialist, and secondary administration from Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.
Norris began teaching K through 8 at Wilson Elementary in Overton County before moving to Alaska where he served as principal at St. Paul School in St. George and eventually moved to Albany in 1989 where he became a special education teacher in the Clinton County School District. It was also the year he met and married the former Nancy Griffin, who also taught school in the district for many years.
Norris taught 25 years in the local district before retiring two years ago.
The new board member feels his past experience in the education field is an asset he can bring to the job. Noting that he had two degrees in administration, he says there are a lot of things discussed during board meetings that he is familiar with first hand, for example, school law, policies and budgets, among other issues.
“Most people that are educated here stay here,” Norris said. “I think I can offer a different perspective and view points on how things are operated in other areas–such as different choices.” In Alaska, he said, they evaluated schools and there he saw different view points. He said they began using computers in the schools there back in 1982.
“I have no hidden agenda,” said Norris about his serving on the board. “I will take things day by day. “We need to educate to the best of our ability for the least of our money possible.”
Over the years, Norris has also worked in community related projects in Albany and Clinton County, including with cemetery communities in helping groups clean older cemeteries and identify grave sites, etc. He has most recently began working with the local animal rescue effort, saying he was going to begin driving (taking animals to no-kill shelters) for that committee.
Norris also stays busy writing books in his spare time, having around 27 published so far. His latest is currently in the works and details the Civil War.
Norris, who won the closest election last fall by six totals votes in district four, said he sought the office because he wanted to give back to the community.
He also added, “I want to thank all the people who voted for me…and if I knew the six people that put me over the top, I would give the women a hug and the men a hearty handshake. I’m happy to be here,” he concluded.