Mrs. Kim Norris, Choir teacher and Fine Arts Department Chair at St. Mary’s Ryken was presented with the prestigious Theodore James Ryken award during a school-wide virtual liturgy to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis Xavier.

On December 3, Mrs. Kim Norris, Choir teacher and Fine Arts Department Chair at St. Mary’s Ryken was presented with the prestigious Theodore James Ryken award during a school wide virtual liturgy to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis Xavier. This is the highest award in the Xaverian Brothers school community. 

he Theodore James Ryken Award was established to recognize an adult member of the school community who by their commitment and dedication lives the mission of the Xaverian charism of education and strives:

To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to participate in the school’s community of faith and to nurture members of the community, to be committed to academic excellence and to recognize the talents of individuals, to recognize the importance of educating the whole person, to fulfill the Gospel call to peace and justice.

“I am so humbled today to be standing here and receiving the Theodore James Ryken Award,” said Mrs. Kim Norris.  “No other award would mean so much to me.  I am so grateful for every day that I get to work with these amazing students, faculty and staff.  The level of fulfillment that I get from seeing them succeed cannot be measured.  The level of fulfillment I get from creating beautiful music and memories with these students cannot be measured.  You see I have watched and worked with many of these students from a very young age, either thru private piano lessons, local youth choirs or the SMR Youth Honors Chorus.  To watch them and help nurture their love of music and service to God is one of the greatest things I can witness.”

Mrs. Norris studied piano under many great instructors at St. Mary’s College and Shenandoah University Conservatory. She is a life-long resident of St. Mary’s County and has taught at St. Michael’s school, a pianist and organist at numerous Catholic churches in St. Mary’s county and has taught private piano lessons to hundreds of young people.

“Mrs. Norris has been a member of the SMR community for ten years where her leadership, commitment to students and dedication to education is apparent,” said SMR President, Dr. Rick Wood.  “At SMR, Mrs. Norris created the Youth Honors Chorus, Concert Cafes, the SMR show choir and the Knight-n-Gales (an elite women’s choir).  She has served on dozens of school committees and continually inspires others to live a life of faith through her example in and out of the classroom.  She has produced professional DVD videos and CD recordings of these groups that were distributed to our larger community.  She constantly is looking for ways to showcase student’s talents through community performances and state and regional competitions.   Her preparation of the student’s for school masses transforms the faith experience for our school community.  Organizing yearly trips to New York and Disney World expand the fine arts experience that our students will have lifelong memories.  She has redesigned and refined concerts, productions and performances to ensure they are high quality and professional.”

SMR Principal, Dr. Catherine Bowes says: “Mrs. Norris’ gift to her students and colleagues is her expertise in choral music delivered with her equal trust in God and the innate goodness of each of us.  This makes her a powerful Catholic educator.  She assures that each child in her care meets their full potential.  She goes beyond what is usual when in a child’s best interest.  I can’t imagine a more consummate Catholic educator and leader of our impressive Fine Arts programs.

Mr. James Parker, Dean of Student Life exclaims: “The love Mrs. Norris has for her students is admirable. Kim cares about the musician in her students but more about their humanity. There are many instances when she cannot speak about her students without tearing up. That love extends to her colleagues as well. On my first day at SMR I walked into the basement of Romuald and was met with a big smile and open arms. Kim has always been an advocate for what is best for our fine arts faculty and students.  I am proud to call Kim a colleague but even more proud to call her friend.

“What a teacher is, is more important than what she teaches.” said Dr. Wood.  “Through the years, I have witnessed Mrs. Norris embody the values of a XBSS teacher.  The TRUST that her administrators and colleagues have in her departmental leadership, the HUMILITY in her accomplishments, the COMPASSION she shows for her students when life doesn’t always go as planned, or the ZEAL she has for transferring her knowledge of the language of music and faith life, makes Kim an epitome of a Xaverian teacher.” 

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