Mr. Norten: Cary-Grove’s “Golden Apple”

One of Cary-Grove’s very own teachers, Mr. Norten, recently had the honor of being nominated for the Golden Apple award. The Golden Apple award is like the Academy Award for teaching.

“It’s an award that recognizes excellent teachers that somebody thought were good enough for a nomination,” Mr. Norten said. “They contribute to the education world.”

Although he did not win the award, he is recognized officially as a “Teacher of Distinction.” He was nominated back in November by a former student or the parent of a former student. He didn’t get to find out who nominated him, but the nomination was only the start of the process.

“I had to do a lot of writing,” Mr. Norten said. “I needed three colleagues to write on my behalf and send it all in.”

There were 400 nominees, and out of those 400, there were 30 finalists. Out of the 30 finalists, 10 win. Mr. Norten did not win, but he technically came in second place.

“Sure, I would’ve loved to have won, but I’m just tickled that I was even nominated, let alone being a finalist,” he said.

The process is like waiting to hear back from a college. After applying in November, a letter is then sent out in the spring that will tell you if you are a finalist or not. This event is so big, that it will actually be televised.

“It’s a tuxedo event, you go up on stage [as one of the ten winners] and literally receive your Golden Apple, and then you give an acceptance speech. It’s a big deal,” he said.

In the process of being selected as a finalist, two members came out from Golden Apple and watched Mr. Norten teach, interviewed him, interviewed his colleagues, interviewed current and former students, and interviewed parents of students as well.

“Was I freak-out nervous that day? Yes. But it was like a roller coaster ride freak-out nervous. You are scared to death, but you’re exhilarated all at the same time”, Mr. Norten said.

The team shadowed him the whole way through his day, and they saw how Cary-Grove works.

“It’s no wonder people think I do a good job. I’m surrounded everyday by people who do a good job,” he said. Mr. Norten teaches AP Physics I and AP Physics C, spending his day with “incredible kids,” and finds it “ironic” that all of these spectacular students are congratulating him.

“I know what Cary-Grove’s about, they don’t. And here I am, me, Mr. Norten, and I get to be a part of this. There’s something special about Cary-Grove”, he said. As the only teacher at C-G that has ever been nominated for a Golden Apple, there’s clearly something special about him, too.