Head Start Manager Retires After 39 Years of Serving Children and Families in Guilford County
Head Start Family Services Manager, Pat Norman, retired July 1, 2011 after 39 years of service at Guilford Child Development (GCD). Norman started at the Morningside (now Willow Oaks) center in 1972 after finishing her degree in Sociology at NC A&T State University. After 39 years of service, funding, family and name changes, she has endured and become a beloved figure in the office, affectionately known as “Ms. Pat” to many.
“One thing I will miss about coming to work is the people I have worked with,” says Norman.
Norman began her life-long and dedicated career in social work in the fall of 1969 with the Guilford County Head Start program. At that time, she served as a Family Advocate; working closely with families and children as they attended Guilford County schools. The program was operated by a joint effort between Guilford County Schools and the Guilford County Community Action program, a well-known nonprofit agency at that time.
Norman and her co-workers were provided office space and classrooms in the Guilford County Schools; while federal funding for the Head Start program was managed through the Community Action Program. She also worked with the YWCA before coming on board with what was then known as United Child Care Services.
Over the years, Norman has performed nearly every job in Head Start. Before GCD became a Head Start grantee, she served in every role the day care centers offered, from teacher, to family advocate, to manager of day care services, to her current title as Family Services Manager.
“Patricia Norman is a people person”, says Debra Issac, Head Start/Early Head Start Program Administrator. “She has always worked as an advocate for children, their families, her staff and the agency. During the years I worked with her at Guilford Child Development, she proved to be very committed to making everyone feel they are valued as a friend and as an employee. She will be missed and always loved for her leadership over the years and for the friendship she shared with so many.”
“You have to really like what you do, to be able to do something like this for so long," says Norman when asked what advice she would give someone who is just starting out in early education. “It can’t be about money.”
Norman plans to kick off her retirement with a little water aerobics, followed by a great deal of volunteer work. From her church, to her grandchildren’s after school program, to her mother’s assisted living facility, even back with Guilford Child Development, she’s not slowing down as much as one would expect. However, like most retirees, she does plan to travel.