Christopher leaves “legacy of excellence”

by Chris Studor

Nov. 20 board of education meeting

Highland board of education members recognized Dr. Norman Christopher at the Nov. 20 board meeting, which was his final school board meeting after serving 18 years on the board, the majority of that time as board president.

Supt. Katherine Aukerman described Christopher as “instrumental in helping to promote and sustain a legacy of excellence.”

“Dr. Christopher’s leadership and guidance is truly valued,” said Aukerman. “He has had a remarkable tenure and so many memorable years of serving the students, staff and community.”

Aukerman then outlined the highlights of Dr. Christopher’s work in two major areas:

  • Dr. Christopher assisted with numerous levy campaigns, helped lead the efforts on nearly $90 million dollars worth of new construction – a new athletic complex, three new elementary schools and a renovated middle school.
  • He helped the district navigate a global pandemic, supported addition of staff to increase mental health and behavioral supports for students; supported the hiring of additional teachers for Advanced Placement offerings; prioritized the addition of all-day, every day kindergarten; supported the addition of world language offerings; supported international travel; reinstated the orchestra program; and lobbied for the addition of a robotics program.

“Throughout his board service, [Christopher] made it his priority to support, advocate for and provide a world-class education to the students of Highland,” said Aukerman.

Aukerman added tht it was a pleasure to watch the Christopher children, David, Maggie and Julia, go through Highland Schools and also recognizing his wife, Jean, who graciously volunteered her own time at Highland and served as a trustee to the Highland Foundation. Family members were present for the presentation of a plaque in Christopher’s honor.

Board members echoed Aukerman’s praises.

“Dr. Christopher’s impact is immeasurable in terms of his guidance, leadership, direction and dedication,” said Board president Christopher Wolny. “His work was always focused on what is best for the students. As a board member, you come in alone but step away as family under Dr. Christopher’s leadership.”

Newest board member, Missy Schreiner agreed.

“Right after I was elected, Dr. Christopher told me right away, not to worry and that he would answer all my questions,” she said. “Dr. Christopher has such a calming presence at all times and I will miss him greatly.”

District Treasurer Neil Barnes said he “knew [he] was in the right place working with Dr. Christopher.”

Summarizing his work, Auckerman said Christopher gave “unselfishly of his time, never had a personal agenda and advocated for children every day.”

He was and is a consummate professional,” she said.

Upon accepting the plaque presented to him, Christopher said, “A district like Highland doesn’t happen without teamwork.”

“This entire board has always been stable, without an agenda and worked for the best interest of the children,” he added.

Christopher said one of the most memorable times in his career involved the search for a new superintendent. After many hours, he said the board had not finalized a candidate and that Auckerman was the last to be interviewed very late on a cold, snowy day.

“We knew she was the one to lead us on our journey,” he said.

Christopher thanked his wife, as well as his family, students, parents and the Highland community, for their support over the years. ∞

Photo: Highland Superintendent Catherine Aukerman presents Dr. Norman Christopher with a plaque honoring his 18-year tenure, most of it as president, of the Highland board of education. The award was presented at the Nov. 20 board meeting. Photo by Chris Studor.