Music and Education
Teacher at Milwaukee Marshall High School
During her time at Carthage, one of Norma Mortimer’s ’70 professors stressed the importance of the interconnectedness of people. Ms. Mortimer took that lesson to heart and has tried to give back to the thousands of students she has taught as both a music and English teacher.
“I have mentored other teachers and administrators, done music clinics, guest conducted, written arrangements, published — always with the idea that perhaps what I do can help someone in their own search for empowerment.”
“I told a student recently that I would be neither the person nor the teacher I am had I gone to any other school.”
What have you enjoyed most about your career?
“I have been privileged to work with approximately 9,500 students over the past 48 years. No two days have ever been the same. I love the variety of my days and appreciate the growth of my students. While I began as an instrumental music teacher, I finish in English. Along the way, I also earned a teaching certificate in Gifted and Talented.”
How did Carthage prepare you?
“While there were days I didn’t appreciate the demands of a liberal arts focus, the fact that I have a degree from Carthage means more to me each year. Professor Don Colton, my music history teacher, demanded that we know not just about music history, but about politics, art, theater — the big ideas of whatever era we were studying. Anything in the library was fair game, and he meant it. It taught me to think critically and to think in broad sweeps of history.
Moreover, the service aspect — giving back to the community — has been vital. Our monthly trips to Southern Colony taught me valuable lessons about differences that have carried me well in working with our special students.”
How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?
“For me, this was about lifelong learning, about looking at issues in a variety of ways and being resourceful in my approach to issues in the classroom. The urban classroom demands this of its teachers every day, and the attitude of the liberal arts graduate toward learning and thinking carries one through. I did not know I would enjoy teaching AP Language, but once I got into it, those skills I learned through my studies at Carthage empowered my teaching.”