Food drive honors late teacher

To honor a late Wapakoneta Middle School teacher, students and staff can wear sweats to school on Friday.

To honor her community service and to be able to wear those sweats, students need to donate a canned good while staff and administration have been challenged to donate five canned goods or $5 — all of which will be given to God’s Storehouse.

Barb Norton, who died late last month of cancer, taught social studies and science to sixth-grade students at Wapakoneta Middle School and often could be found volunteering her time at a local food pantry to better the community.

To honor her and her work, Wapakoneta City Schools has declared Friday, Oct. 19, as “Wear Your Sweatpants, Wind Suits” to school day at Wapakoneta Middle School and Wapakoneta High School. Due to Red Ribbon Week, students at Wapakoneta Elementary School will have a special day honoring Norton at a later date.

“We wanted to make this a fun event and do something we knew Barb would love,” sixth-grade teacher Janet Steinke said. “Teachers, administration and maintenance folks will be working together to organize, collect and deliver the donated items.

“Our goal is to honor Barb’s memory and share her compassion for helping others,” she said.

Steinke admired her good friend and “partner in crime” as a teacher and a person.

“Bard had a kind, helping heart,” Steinke said. “One charitable organization that Barb took a great deal of pride volunteering for was God’s Storehouse. She spent quite a few hours at their location helping stock shelves and waiting on customers.

“She also helped with food drives,” she said of her former colleague. “Barb, along with her 6th grade teammates became partners in education with God’s Storehouse a few years ago. The students learned what the organization was all about and sponsored a food drive in May at the Wapakoneta Middle School.”

Norton, who was born April 23, 1954 to Wilma and Paul Boehringer, graduated from Wapakoneta High School in 1972. She earned her associate’s degree in business from Davis College in 1974.

After being a stay-at-home mother, she returned to school to pursue her dream of teaching and earned her bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University in 1990 and her master’s degree from the University of Findlay in 1998. During her 22 years in teaching, Norton taught special education at the high school level before moving to Wapakoneta Middle School.

She also assisted her daughter, Jamie Goudy, at her store, The Herb Ladies, utilizing her knowledge of natural remedies. Norton has two daughters, Goudy and Amy Norton, who lives on the Isle of Gigha, Scotland.

When not teaching, Norton spent most of her time with her granddaughter, Kieran, the daughter of Jamie and William Goudy.

Wearing sweats also reflects upon another side of Norton’s pragmatic and realistic character.

“Barb was not a gal who liked fancy frills,” Steinke said of the former Wapakoneta High School special education teacher and later a social studies and science teacher at Wapakoneta Middle School. “She was a very down-to-earth teacher who was most comfortable in casual clothing. One of her favorite items to wear was her Wapak Redskins sweatshirt.”

Norton also valued her community. She served on the church council and the teacher’s union, the Wapakoneta Education Association, or WEA, and taught Sunday school.

“Mrs. Norton took an active roll in working on committees within the school district and with the WEA),” Steinke said. “She was very comfortable in expressing her ideas to board members, administration and other staff. She was very compassionate about doing what was best for her students and the folks she worked with.”

In light of that compassion, the Wapakoneta City Board of Education members, school administrators and WEA executive board and members took the initiative to “honor and memory of Barb Norton” and “to work together to sponsor a district wide Food Drive for God’s Storehouse.”

They all hope to make this an annual event.