“It’s Greek to me” isn’t an excuse that flies in Naomi Norman’s classics classes. She teaches her students to read and understand—not decode—Greek, to learn to think critically and to challenge themselves.
Norman is known for her thoughtful classroom lessons, clear explanations and high expectations of her students.
“I try to empower my students to approach their time at UGA as an opportunity to be active participants in creating and using knowledge, to spread their wings, to try out new fields and to expand their course list,” she said.
Norman encourages students to find what they are passionate about “not only in classics, but also in life.” She teaches her students to understand the world and their place in it, to value learning and to know how to communicate effectively.
“Her classes are hard—really hard. Her classes consistently kicked my butt,” said John Linton Elliott, now a medical student at the University of Virginia and a former Peace Corps health volunteer. “I hold it up as one of the high points of my academic career at UGA that I got an A in Dr. Norman’s class. . . . [Her classes] pushed me beyond what I was accustomed to doing. I firmly believe this made me a better student and person.”
Norman is an advocate for technology in the classroom, which she said helps shorten the distance between instructors, students and information.
“Technology helps me bring the world of the Mediterranean to campus—to bring Athens, Greece, to Athens, Georgia,” she said.
She teaches Greek classes with a SmartBoard. In her archaeology classes, she uses Google Earth, online excavation videos, Geographic Information Systems and other interactive tools to teach about the Mediterranean.
Norman received a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College, majoring in Greek and classical and Near Eastern archaeology in 1975. She received a Ph.D. in classical art and archaeology from the University of Michigan in 1980. After lecturing at the University of Minnesota for one semester, she came to UGA in 1981.
A Senior Teaching Fellow with the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning, Norman also is involved with the Writing Intensive Program and Faculty Learning Communities. Recently inducted into the UGA Teaching Academy, Norman is also editor of the American Journal of Archaeology. She directs a UGA study-abroad program in Tunisia, where she oversees archaeological excavations in Carthage.
She is described as a “renaissance woman” at work, by Derek Counts, a former student and current associate professor of art history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Naomi has been my teacher, my friend, my confidant and my model,” he said. “This award is the ideal way for us to recognize her and show our thanks.”
Joann McDaniel, an assistant dean at the University of Michigan, said that after 29 years in the classroom Norman “deserves, as no other, this recognition of her life’s work.”