William Norman was a longtime educator and served as principal of a school in Maryland where the auditorium was later named after him.
William Norman was a longtime educator and served as principal of a school in Maryland where the auditorium was later named after him. (Anne Arundel County Public Schools, courtesy)

A group of Chesapeake High School alumni have banded together to create a scholarship fund in memory of William Norman, the school's long-retired first principal, who was killed this month in Florida.

The scholarship, which will be called the Dr. William H. Norman Endowment Fund, is in the early planning stages and will be supported entirely by alumni, at least to start.


The group thought helping students afford higher education would be the best way to memorialize the former administrator.

"He spent his entire life as an educator," said Fred Brauer, a former student involved in the fledgling endeavor. "He was very involved in the arts — especially theater — so we felt like this is a good way to honor him."

Police in Davie, Fla., said Norman's body was found July 5 in a canal. A plastic grocery bag was tied around his neck, and his mouth was taped shut, according a news account in the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Two men have been arrested and charged with murder in the case

Norman, 76, of Tampa, Fla., was employed by the Anne Arundel County public school system for 28 years, retiring in 1989 as the director of fiscal services. He was known to generations of students in the northern and northeastern sections of the county, where he spent most of his career.

Norman was the principal at Chesapeake for eight years, starting in 1976, when he selected his staff to open what was then a new high school in Pasadena.

"He was a collaborator. Everything we did, we did as a team," said Julia Oravecz, the head of the English department at Chesapeake under Norman. "He was a team leader more than any other administrator I've worked with."

The man referred to as a "gentle giant" by one of his students has had a lasting effect on many.

"He respected us, so we respected him," said Kimberly Smith, a former student at Chesapeake. "He treated us like adults. He ruled with a soft hand, and there aren't a lot of administrators like that."

That sensitive leadership stuck out for others, who said he was unlike most administrators.

"This was a guy who never raised his voice," Brauer said. "There's not a student that wouldn't walk into his office and say hi. He had a very open-door policy."

He began his career in 1961 as a business education teacher at Brooklyn Park High School, moving in 1965 to Northeast High School, according to school system officials. In 1967, he turned to school administration. He became an assistant principal at Northeast High School, then principal at Andover and Northeast high schools and Lake Shore Elementary School before he was named to lead the newly built Chesapeake High. He left there in 1983 for the systemwide fiscal services position.

Chesapeake High School "was his baby," said Jodie Levy, a former student. She said that when Norman retired, the school still looked as if it had just opened.

He also held administrative positions at the Board of Education.