Karen Norton, 47, of Warren prepares to take on her new role as the Carlisle Elementary School principal, preparing for the 2013-14 school year.
“I’m excited, ” Norton said. “They are such energetic teachers. Carlisle has a lot of good things going for it. I plan to building on that.”
Norton, formerly a Lonoke County resident, is a Cabot High School graduate. Following high school, she pursued a nursing major at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. After marrying her husband Terry, Norton then moved to Warren, where she would soon find her calling in education.
According to Norton, it wasn’t until the birth of her first son that she wanted to be in education. She said watching him learn and grow was something she became fascinated in.
“At that point I really became interested in teaching,” Norton said.
Norton went on to attend the University of Arkansas at Monticello, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Education with a certification of Early Childhood. Today, she is now in her 18th year in education.
Norton was the assistant principal/instructional facilitator at the Monticello Intermediate School before accepting the principal position at Carlisle.
She began her career in education in teaching. During her first 10 years, she was a teacher for the Warren School District. There she taught kindergarten for eight years and fourth grade for two years. The last seven she has served as a instructional facilitator; four of those years were at the Monticello Intermediate School. Norton was also named Arkansas Teacher of the Year in 2002.
Norton and husband Terry, who is a contractor, have been married 28 years. They have two children and one grandson.
Their son Christopher, 25, is the athletic director and head football coach for West Memphis Christian. Cade, 6, is his son.
Hannah, 21, is a senior at the University in Oklahoma in Norman. She is an anthropology major and is headed to medical school.
Once their house is finished being remodeled, Norton said she and her husband will reside in Austin.
In their spare time, Norton said she and her husband enjoy fishing and shopping at flea markets. She said they also enjoy football as well.
“We are both pretty big football fans,” Norton said. “But we don’t follow any particular team. Terry is a big Nascar fan.”
Norton said her primary goal this year is to learn about her students and the community.
“Just getting to know the community and the students,” Norton said. “I’m already a Bison fan and will be attending the games; just getting to know the people of Carlisle.”
While Norton has already suggested a few adjustments to the handbook for the 2013-2014 school year, she said one change she plans to make is to bring back open house night, prior to the first day of school.
“I think it’s really important to get parents in the school and students meeting teachers,” Norton said.
Norton said it is important for parents to understand that they are the student’s first teacher. She said by hosting the open house, not only are they “kick starting the year” but parents are being invited into the school. Norton said it will help parents to become more involved in their child’s education and open the door for better communication between parents and teachers.
“We want our parents in our school,” Norton said. “I think open house is a way to get parents brought into the school. It’s good positive community relations with parents.”
The High School and Elementary School will host an open house from 6-7:30 p.m. Aug. 15.