Trinity Remembers Education Professor Patricia Norman
Avid educator bolstered the Master of Arts in Teaching program for two decades
Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Patricia J. Norman, Ph.D., died on Feb. 14, 2023, from metastatic breast cancer. She was 55. A career educator, Pat will be remembered for her kindness, curiosity, generous spirit, and abiding commitment to supporting learners of all ages.

This obituary is an excerpt from the full version, which can be found on

Pat was born May 8, 1967, to Webbs and Nancy Norman as the third of four siblings in a Chicago suburb. From a very young age, Pat found herself drawn to education. She graduated from Rockford West High School in 1985 and then earned an undergraduate degree and teacher certification from Rockford University four years later.

Throughout her professional career, Pat maintained that deep learning and personal growth often result from stretching beyond one's comfort zone. After teaching fifth grade for two years at Kinnickinick School in Roscoe, Illinois, in the summer of 1991, Pat entered the Peace Corps. Arriving not long after Haiti's first democratic election, a military coup resulted in her forced evacuation from the country just months later.

After returning home to the U.S., Pat continued cultivating an awareness of her own identities and culture, already on the way to becoming a lifelong advocate for social justice. After briefly returning to elementary teaching, this renewed professional focus led Pat to begin a doctoral program at the University of Chicago.

After completing a master's degree in social sciences with an emphasis on urban education, Pat deliberately transferred to a doctoral program at Michigan State University. She earned her doctorate in Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning in 2001. 

In 2000, Pat joined the education faculty as an assistant professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She remained on the Trinity faculty for two decades, earning tenure and promotion to full professor. Pat served as coordinator for the Master of Arts in Teaching elementary program, teaching hundreds of candidates over their five years to enter the profession.

Pat's commitment to her students extended long after graduation. Recognizing the importance of supporting new teachers in their first few years in the classroom, she founded and co-facilitated the Beginning Teacher Study Group. She was also a member of the School Reform Initiative (SRI), a national nonprofit dedicated to creating transformational learning communities,  and served as president of the SRI Board of Directors for many years.

One of Pat's most gratifying professional experiences involved establishing a school-university partnership at Lamar Elementary School in the San Antonio Independent School District with former student, gifted school administrator, and treasured friend Brian Sparks. At Lamar, she relished the chance to work alongside so many dedicated faculty, staff, and families who were equally committed to making the school a more equitable place for children's learning.

In 2020, Pat accepted a new challenge, returning "home" to the Midwest to become professor and co-chair of the education department at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

A celebration of Pat's life will be held at 11 a.m. on April 23, 2023, at Gather on Broadway in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Norman family encourages you, in lieu of flowers, to honor Pat by supporting organizations she loved: Paul's Pantry, a community-based food pantry in Green Bay; the Esther Vexler Yoga School, the first yoga teacher training school in South Texas; and Rockford University, Pat's beloved alma mater.


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