Teacher Camaraderie – Part 2

Well, last week’s blog spurred a lot of conversation. Yes, based on feedback and small talk, teacher camaraderie is lost. I heard from veteran teachers (old heads) and the young guns. The split seemed to be about fifteen years of experience among the feedback. So, I thought I would extend our blog from last week and let us see the thoughts of others and close with my opinion of why we need to either go back and find camaraderie or start finding a way to include collegiality in our schools.


A thought from several veteran educators…
“Our schools are much more heterogenous than “then,” but our communities are not. So – the question should be, how can we develop true camaraderie among all of our teachers and not just those who reside in our comfort zone?”

“… it’s imperative to be intentional in these days and times!!!”

“Teachers have become our State/country’s salvation!! Without camaraderie with their peers, teachers will not get the tremendous intrinsic values from what they do for the children!!… Too few folks see or understand the true value of teaching, and that includes those in the profession-has been that way for a long time.”

Thoughts from the young gun teachers…
“I 100% agree!!! It’s crazy how things have changed and this is only my 13th year!!!”

“I have really never thought about it this way. None of my family is in education, and I really don’t talk to anyone about what I do every day.”

“I see how many of the older teachers always talk with each other. I guess that’s because they have been teaching with each other for so long. I hope I can find that the longer I stay in education.”

As you can see, camaraderie is a valuable commodity in education. Veteran and young teachers know what is at stake by losing or not having camaraderie. Being in education for 29 years, I have noticed that it seems the more teachers “get along,” the better the school culture will be. As one veteran teacher commented, “Is everything ‘push, push, push’ to raise test scores, or is there appropriate attention given to the climate of the school?” As I thought about that question, I wondered how many schools provide professional development for this. Would it be a good thing? Would school leaders see value in it? If we are going to create a culture conducive to growing students, then the school environment must help those (teachers) entrusted with that responsibility. What better way to do that, than to find ways to ensure that teachers have the opportunity to have camaraderie?

Yes, it takes effort from many different angles, but doesn’t most things that matter do? Let’s be intentional in finding ways to build each other up, edifying the good that others do. The world is standing in line to tear people down, teachers included. Schools should be one of the safest places for teachers to feel valued. It’s all about leadership on every level.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2022 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on… Twitter @thebookchamber or follow the blog directly.

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Is There a Lost Camaraderie of Teaching?

In writing last week, I mentioned I attended the memorial of one of my mentors, Dr. Gerald Hasselman. During the memorial, I looked around and realized I was sitting in an ocean of educational greatness. More importantly, I realized that these people’s friendship and camaraderie have stayed and tested time. 


Riding home, I thought about my teacher friendships that have also moved with time. Yes, these core friends will drop anything to help. I also realized that teacher friendships and relationships are becoming a “thing of the past.” I remember early on in teaching, at the end of the day, we would “hang around and visit” for a little while. Slower days, they were, I guess. 

I asked one of them the other day, “Reckon why?” As we talked, we came up with several ideas. 


Did not move schools as much as they do today.

Lived in the community of the school.

Went to the same church.

Children were the same age.

… and a few more I’m sure you can come up with.

More than anything else, we decided that our lives did not have the hustle and bustle they do today. There are so many “things” we are involved in with ourselves or with our families. What’s an average day going home…? Get to the bank or the cleaners before they close, run by the grocery store to pick up something for supper, get children to practice for whatever sport they are in, check/go over your children’s homework, etc. And… the best school taboos… An hour and a half faculty meeting, get home to get tomorrow’s lesson ready, grade papers, etc… Before you know it, it’s time to shower and go to bed (and don’t forget to ask how your spouse’s day went).

Now, I want to get home as quickly as anyone, but… we are losing one of our greatest educational strengths – each other. Who better understands us than other teachers? At the end of the school day, the bell rings, and we hear, “See you tomorrow.” Social media and texting have taken the place of conversations that includes the going on’s of your family, not the smack talk of gossip. Having another teacher listen and ask questions, connect mentally, provide realness, offer help, and celebrate is the camaraderie we are missing.

As the school year begins, make an effort to have camaraderie with your colleagues. There will be some you do not “click” with, and that’s ok. However, you will appreciate the social and emotional side of your well-being when you do find those with whom you do “click,” and your friendship stays intentional. 

Two more thoughts for this blog stand out as we close…

  1. For the Andy Griffith fans out there, the episode of “What’s Your Hurry” comes to mind. 
  2. For the “Toy Story” fans, with Andy and Buzz… “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

Both of these practiced intentionally, can be of great help.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2022 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on… Twitter @thebookchamber or follow the blog directly.

Want to share this leadership thought with others? Click on one of the social media sharing buttons below and help spread the good…

The Value of a Mentor and a Tribute to Dr. Gerald Hasselman…

The opening week of school for many of us… Let’s talk about the value of mentors and influence, along with a tribute. Regardless of age, we all need them. I made a list the other night and wrote down fourteen names of people who have influenced and mentored me outside my family. I have been very fortunate to have such people in my life. I would also like to add that along with Dr. Hasselman, who recently passed away, two others also have. Of the fourteen remaining, some go way back to high school, college, the beginning of my career, and also currently; all at some time or another in the areas of coaching, teaching, and leadership. While some of the fourteen are recent over the past few years on my list, I will say that along with the others, the mentor and influence team that I have has rock star status. Each one, mentoring and influencing in different areas completing the whole.

I met G (Dr. Hasselman) in 2006 when I started my specialist degree at Mississippi College. I had spoken with him on the phone a few days before about the program, and G told me to stop by. I stopped a few days later and went to his office on the second floor of Lowery Hall. He was not in there, so I walked down the hall. I saw Dr. Tom Williams in the conference room and spoke to him. I did not know Dr. Hasselman was in the room also… I asked Dr. Williams if he knew where I could find Dr. Hasselman. The next voice I heard was, “That’s me, son.” I replied, “Dr. Hasselman, I’m Clay Norton.” Dr. Hasselman’s next words were, “I know who you are, son; go sit in my office, and I’ll be down there in a few minutes.” And that was my introduction to Dr. Gerald Hasselman in 2006.

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Throughout my specialist program and doctorate, I do not know what I did to befriend Dr. Hassleman beyond the student-professor relationship. I do not understand why he took an interest in me. I did not know, at the time, how much of a mentor he would become and how much of his influence I would develop into my leadership style. Looking back, I still do not know, but I am and will forever be thankful. Even as an adult, 34 years old in 2006 and 16 years later, I value the influence and mentoring Dr. Hasselman provided me.

One special moment for me was that Dr. Hasselman was the keynote speaker during our doctoral commencement ceremony at MC. His speech was actually about the power of influence. In the speech, Dr. Hasselman made this comment, “If you ever see a turtle sitting on a fence post, know that it did not get up there on its own.” I realize it is a well-known thought, but for me to hear him say it took on a whole new level of worth. I realized that in many instances, I was the turtle. Along with Dr. Hasselman and others who have influenced and mentored my life, I can sit on that fence post.

Since G’s passing on July 30, a few weeks ago, memories of our relationship have flooded my mind and heart. Memories that I have teared up on and laughed out loud. One day we were playing golf together, and I called him Dr. Hasselman (I had already graduated, and that is what I still called him). He looked at me and said, “Clay, we are colleagues now; G will work just fine.” It took me awhile…

So, here is my tribute to G…

I’m writing today, to tell of a person who modeled leadership to its finest degree. Dr. Gerald Hasselman passed away on July 30, 2022. I only knew G as a college professor at Mississippi College and as a friend for a total of 16 years. Looking at his resume would make you dizzy with all he had done in education, almost every possible role. I would like to tell you about Dr. Hasselman as one of my mentors and his influence on my life. On this front, I can say, without a doubt, that he is one of the best I have ever seen. In and outside of the classroom, he treated everyone with the same high expectations and values. His heart for education transcends into many lives he touched. As an educator, he valued education and serving others, and he did just that. You never had to guess where you stood with G; it was evident. Affording everyone he interacted with, with brutal honesty, respect to difference of opinions, open to dialogue, and fairness; precious and rare characteristics of leaders today. As a lifelong educator, G helped the future by influencing so many, which we need to remember to do and value as well. Education needs more educators like Gerald Hasselman because people like Gerald Hasselman are extraordinary educational leaders. Sitting in his classroom was like being in an educational think-tank with him.

So, I am sad that I lost someone I adored, admired, respected, appreciated, loved, etc. However, I can also be glad knowing that I believe I am a better educational leader because of him. Personally, I will miss G’s subtle wit and small talk about golf and the St. Louis Cardinals. G also became our family’s travel agent/guide; he had traveled almost everywhere and always knew of a good place to eat. Many a conversation we had and solved most of life’s problems. I am grateful for the time I have had being his student and colleague, as I am sure many of you are as well who had him as a professor and worked with him. His impact on our lives leaves a legacy that will ripple through education for years to come. Dr. Gerald Hasselman was my professor, my colleague, an inspiration, one of my leadership heroes and my mentor. Most importantly, G was my friend, and I will miss him…

I hope you have a mentor in your life like the ones I have had and currently do. It will make you better, regardless of your age. Allow someone to invest in you so you can invest in others. The value of a mentor is needed in all areas of life, including education.

I hope everyone has a great school year.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2022 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on… Twitter @thebookchamber or follow the blog directly.

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School’s Out… What a Year!

Well, here we are, the end of the 2021-2022 school year… and what a year it has been. A year of “almost” back to normal as we know it. What the future holds, we will see…

school's out

But this I know… leadership matters. The older I get, the more I see the need for better quality leadership. I find that many leaders are just plain cynical… they are concerned only with their own interests. They are so distrustful of others that they micromanage their way through leadership and typically disregard others’ opinions that could help the greater good. So, that’s why I write. The best leadership is servant-leadership, doing what is best for others and doing right by them. That should be what we are in education or any leadership position for anyway.


Last year, I finished my blog writing for the end of school with the top five most-read blogs for the school year. So I thought I would do that again. I find it interesting to see what people want to read about. Like anything we read, it comes down to your interests.

Here are the five most-read blogs from this past school year. Just click on the link to read again or read for the first time…

  1. A Teacher’s Value – Below the Average?
  2. I’m entering the “Transfer Portal”
  3. A Tribute for Teacher Appreciation… Mina Darnell
  4. Having a “wha-ha” moment… Abner Doubleday, Baseball, and The Civil War
  5. The Value of Tears…

As for my favorite… I’m going with this: Being a #girldad and Women Sports Equality

Personally, I would like to thank the readers of The Book Chamber Blog. Thank you for reading my thoughts, rants, or whatever you might call them. Your comments and feedback are always welcome, and it allows me to consider new topics each week. I have already started drafting a few topics for the next school year.

And… A Thank You to teachers everywhere who are in it for the students. You are the reason why education will always have a chance to help society.

If you are wondering what the most read blog is since I have been writing… Here it is… “Ride The Fence” Leadership

As summer vacation nears, make time for yourself and your family. In the end, that is what is most important. And as always… if all else fails and you need something to do, read a book.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2022 J Clay Norton

Want more Leadership Thoughts? Follow me on… Twitter @thebookchamber or follow the blog directly.

Want to share this leadership thought with others? Click on one of the social media sharing buttons below and help spread the good…