Remembering Suzy Norris: Blowing Dandelion Seeds into the Wind

Longtime educator passed away on January 2, 2024

By Scott Allenby

In a 2016 interview with Suzy, Tim, Kit, and Chris Norris about their collective 140+ years of teaching at Proctor, Suzy shared her perspective on being a lifelong educator, “Teaching kids is like blowing dandelion seeds into the wind. You never know what is going to happen, where your words will land, or what direction they will inspire your students, but it is so much fun to watch.” On January 2, Suzy blew her last dandelion seeds of wisdom, hope, humor, and love, surrounded by her family.

Retired Proctor educator, Suzy Norris, passed away on January 2, 2024. Photo: Proctor Archives

When Suzy arrived in Andover with her husband, Tim, for Tim’s teaching job at Proctor in the fall of 1966, she arrived alongside her sister-in-law, Kit, and Tim’s brother Chris’ family. For the next 35+ years, Suzy, Tim, Kit, and Chris served as pillars of a school community that was transformed from a traditional, all-boys boarding school of the 1960s to a coeducational, open-minded, forward-thinking school community throughout the 1970s and 1980s. When Suzy arrived, the role of women on campus was secondary to their spouses. They were asked to pour tea for faculty meetings, serve dessert and tea to visiting teams following athletic contests, act as dorm surrogates, and run study halls in their dorms all without being paid. Kit Norris reflects, “Over time David really encouraged spouses to work at Proctor. Suzy and I started filling in for teachers, teaching in Learning Skills, and eventually moved into the English and math departments, respectively. As this happened, families could be families. Everyone felt they could be a part of the community and have a voice in the direction of the school.”

Once in the classroom as an English and Latin teacher, and Learning Skills instructor, Suzy never looked back, inspiring her students and colleagues through her wit, kindness, optimism, and voice of reason. A lover of poetry, the written and spoken word, a lifelong learner who continued to pursue her love of writing in a poetry group through this fall, and a deep believer in the power of community, Suzy served as a critical voice in Proctor’s evolution. Having parents who worked at a number of different prep schools, Suzy recalled, “Early in our time at Proctor, my mother asked, ‘Do you think you and Tim will ever move on from Proctor?’ I replied, ‘I don’t think so, we just love the people here, we love our friends, and we love what we do.’ She looked bewildered, but just didn’t understand how special Proctor was. We were so fortunate to have been able to work with the people we worked with over the years, and to have stayed friends with our co-workers even after we retired here in Andover.”

We are forever grateful that Suzy allowed her and her family’s life to be inextricably woven into the fabric of the Proctor community and into the local Andover community. Suzy loved the mystery of wondering where her dandelion seeds of inspiration would land. As her former students, colleagues, and neighbors, we were the recipients of her gentle nudge to step into the unknown, to write their hearts on the pages of their notebook, to encourage and love and hope with a truly remarkable optimism.