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Norm Church Retires After 29 Years With SFSC

Submitted by on June 17, 2013 – 2:09 pmNo Comment
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SFSC employees recently gathered for a pot luck luncheon to wish Norm Church a fond farewell. Pictured left to right: Randy Paeplow, Jim Robertson, Norm Church, Joel Boydston, Daniel Keller, John Byrd, and Tom Bush.

After 29 years of service to South Florida State College, Norman Church, professor of building maintenance, retires June 18. Church has been employed as a part-time faculty member for three years and as a full-time faculty member for 26 years.

Church moved to Highlands County in 1980 from Orlando. Prior to working at SFSC, he owned and operated Norm’s Cabinets in Sebring for four years.

Over the years, he has worked as a teacher aide in carpentry and adjunct instructor in carpentry and drafting. Church spent 26 years at SFSC as professor of carpentry and building maintenance at AMIkids Last Chance Ranch. During that time, he taught students tool safety, measuring, carpentry, construction, electrical skills, fabrication, and shop practices.

AMIkids Last Chance Ranch was a moderate risk, residential program in a ranch style setting that served male students, ages 15-18. The Last Chance Ranch provided students with structure, consistency, care, and rehabilitation to address students’ behavioral, educational, and career goals.

At first, Church was a bit overwhelmed when he started working at SFSC in 1984. “I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “Everyone turned out to be impressively welcoming and helpful. In return, I do the same with fellow colleagues.”

“Norm was one of those employees that you never had to wonder if he going to follow up on this or if he’s doing what he’s supposed to,” said Tom Bush, chair, Technical and Industrial Education, SFSC.  “He never complained about extra paperwork or assignments.”

“By far the best part of working at SFSC has been the students,” Church said. “Being able to give students direction, ideas, and then to see their growth has been amazing.”

Larry Hooper, former SFSC professor of electronics, inspired Church the most. “He treated me like a friend right away,” he said. “Over the years, we developed a close bond, and he made my job easier.”

Church has watched SFSC expand significantly over the years with new programs and new buildings, such as the SFSC University Center, the Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr. Health and Science Education Center, and the Hardee and DeSoto campuses.

“Norm touched the lives of countless young men who were going through a challenging time early in life,” Bush said. “He treated them with respect, taught them skills they could use once they got back to the real world, and he tried to instill his same good work ethic in them.”

During his retirement, Church will remain in Highlands County and plans to spend time traveling, camping, fishing, and trying to relax. As an avid volunteer, he plans to become more involved in his church, Elks Club, community service projects, Boy Scouts, and Rotary International.

“SFSC provides a high quality education,” Church said. “It’s been an honor and a pleasure to work here.”

“I’m anxious to retire,” Church said. “But I look forward to new challenges and God’s plans for my future.”

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