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Ansay Says Goodbye

Letter to the editor from superintendent Dr. Patricia Ansay.

Dear Residents of Norton and the Norton School Community,

How fortunate for me that I “landed” in Norton!

You’ve heard me say that Norton is a great place to live and work. I sincerely hope that I have helped to make Norton a great place to learn too. We focused on educating the whole child! 

In recent years, the Norton Public Schools has had successes in athletics, winning State Championships in wrestling, golf, basketball and baseball, and even making a marvelous trip to the Super Bowl. Most importantly, our scholar athletes seem to have Good Sportsmanship Awardsall sewn up.  Many of our coaches have been named Coach of the Year. I am very proud of having involvement in refurbishing and constructing the baseball and softball fields, dugouts, concession stand, and successfully completing the Track & Bleacher project at the high school’s multi-purpose field. You’re all familiar with “Build it & they will come.” Here in Norton, it’s“Build it and they will win!”

The Arts have flourished at all levels. If you haven’t made a trip to the Art Show at the high school, or been amazed at the artwork on the walls of the other schools, you’ve missed something special. School choruses and orchestras are top-notch. We’ve worked really hard to implement courses, programs, and activities that would interest each and every child entering our high school: DECA, School-to-Career, Community Service and so forth.

We waged a war on bullying, started the Tri-Town Drug & Alcohol Task Force with Foxboro and Mansfield, reinvented the SADD Club and brought the SMILES Mentoring Program to our grades 4-6 students. Academically, we were named in the top 15% in the State, and a few weeks ago, US News & World Report ranked Norton High 38th out of 351 high schools in Massachusetts and 694th nationally. The number of Advanced Placement students has tripled in the last three years. Our MCAS scores, once at the bottom of area communities, have seen us consistently ranked first among our peers. More and more students are heading to college. Our Dual Enrollment opportunities with Bridgewater University, Bristol Community College, UMass Dartmouth and Wheaton College enable our high school students to earn college credits while in high school. We’ve got seventh graders taking Algebra and eighth graders taking geometry, previously reserved only for high school students. Our special education program serves students within regular classrooms where these students are respected and appreciated. Success breeds success!

Although Teaching & Learning are #1 in our book, without safe and healthy school buildings and grounds, excellence in Teaching & Learning cannot be achieved. Maintaining five campuses always keeps us on our toes with the non-stop repairs to the Yelle School, the significant flashing repair project at the middle school, installation of the first solar array in Norton on the Norton Middle School roof, and updating of the Solmonese School inside and out. In fact, the Solmonese Roof Repair Project, in collaboration with the MA School Building Authority, may receive 56% reimbursement. Technologically, fiber optics was installed. We centralized servers, storage, backups and databases, increased network speed, and improved our website. We have been ahead of the curve, technology-wise. Attaining the Norton High School Addition/Refurbishing Project is one accomplishment that I am especially proud of.  I’ll be checking on that one from time-to-time!

Even though there was never a dull moment, it hasn’t been all work. There were playoff games, Town Tricentennial events and student exhibitions, assemblies, award breakfasts, concerts, plays, Dr. Seuss Days, classroom visits, field trips, silly hat days, Special Olympics and rounds of golf with our high school golf team at the TPC---PRICELESS!. 

Speaking of accomplishments, a Superintendent is only as good as his or her staff. During my tenure, many talented individuals have been hired, or moved into administrative positions. As part of the Norton team, they have shown that they are bright, skilled, energetic, and passionate about the work that we do for kids. In their capable hands, the Norton Public Schools will continue on its journey toward continued excellence. Our staff members give 100%, day in and day out. If I leave with any words of wisdom, it’s to keep a healthy balance of work, family, friends and leisure time activities.

I’ve been blessed during my time in Norton with year after year of wonderful School Committees comprised of people of character. They supported me every step of the way. They have ONE focus - to do what’s right for Norton’s youth.

I can’t take sole credit for any successes achieved during my tenure. So many people and groups helped out, except when it was 4:45 a.m. and a decision had to be made to call a snow day or not! School department staff, PTO’s, local businesses, town officials and departments, Selectmen, the Finance Committee, the Press, legal counsel, Norton High Building Committee, Wheaton College, our State Legislators, Chambers of Commerce, Superintendent’s Advisory Committee, the Pride Group, YMCA, our vendors, community members, my Superintendent colleagues, and those of you who live or work in Norton and have been a support to me.

Always remember that the Norton Public Schools is, as I say, a “best kept secret.” The district has great kids, wonderful parents and awesome staff members. Hold your heads up high and be proud of what you have helped the district become. You have put the Norton public Schools on the map!

I don’t know where the time has gone. Although I knew from the age of seven that I wanted to be an educator, I never knew that the career that I would embark upon would be so rewarding and enjoyable.  I gave Norton all that I had to give, knowing that I was helping to make a difference in the lives of children. It’s all about time. Now, it’s time for me to kick back and enjoy what else life has to offer. 

There’s a lyric from Circle of Life that I’d like to close with. It says: Till we find our place / On the path unwinding. Again, I feel so fortunate that my life’s path led to Norton and that I had the privilege of finding my place here. I have many terrific memories to take with me. I have worked with some of the finest staff members, teachers, administrators, residents of Norton and School Committee members in the Commonwealth. It has been my honor and my pleasure to serve you. Thank you all. 

Patricia Ansay

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