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  • Norma Mortimer '70

Norma Mortimer ’70

Class Year



Music and Education

Current home

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Current position

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.” 

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“I have been privileged to work with approximately 9500 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 political, 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 — the 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.”

Tips for current Carthage students:

“Get involved. Get involved in the community at large as well as the Carthage community. Take advantage of everything the campus has to offer. Learn to think and learn to study — those skills have taken me far. One professor told us that we don’t have to like everyone we tour with, but we do have to love them. I haven’t liked everyone I have encountered, but the spiritual grounding I found at Carthage has helped me to love them.”

Favorite Carthage memories:

“Sophomore year, one of the fraternities built a beautiful arch across the south entrance, and during the night, someone set it on fire. Since the women were stuck in the dorms (it was after hours), the men worked all night to rebuild it with the tissue we tossed down to them from the dorm windows. It was a great example of how we recover (I know this was in the yearbook, what maybe 67-68).

Our Brass Choir trip to Germany the summer of 1969 was amazing. Imagine being able to accept the congratulations for the moon landing from the German families we stayed with; to see the Berlin Wall sans graffiti and with some intimidating DDR guards; to stand near the summit of the Zugspitze. I would not have done it had I not been a part of the music department. I told a student recently that I would be neither the person nor the teacher I am had I gone to any other school.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Peer-reviewed student and faculty pedagogy projects have been presented at the International Conference on the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing, the International Conference on Arts and Humanities, the International Symposium on the Phenomenon of the Singing Voice, and the Estill World Voice Symposium at Harvard University.

    • Carthage voice faculty and students are active in voice science research, utilizing Voce Vista and Voice Print software in our voice lab setting. Students have presented their projects at regional, national, and international conferences.

    • The Carthage Chamber Music Series brings four internationally renowned ensembles to campus each year to interact with music students. Performers have included Anonymous 4, the Imani Winds, the Deadalus Quartet, the Manhattan Brass, and the Waverly Consort. 

    • Carthage music ensembles have been selected to premiere new and commissioned works, providing our students with meaningful opportunities to collaborate with nationally and internationally recognized composers such as Ola Gjeilo, Stacy Garrop, Patrick Long, Tom Vignieri, and Alex Shapiro.

    • Carthage students have been selected through competitive regional, national, and international auditions for exceptional young artist development programs, such as the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, Rocky Ridge Music Festival, and the Open Jar Institute in New York.

    • Carthage voice students are actively involved in the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and exceptional Carthage singers have frequently earned state honors in classical and music theatre voice.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $22,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …