Matt Norris returns to Bloomington to teach at South

Iris Kreilkamp, Co-Editor

Staff Photo

South students who attended Jackson Creek Middle School in 2016 might remember Mr. Norris. The beloved student teacher could be found in Mr. Duvall’s social studies class, in the PE room, or even coaching track or football. But now, after a short time teaching and coaching outside of Bloomington, he has his own classroom at BHSS.

Matt Norris grew up in Indiana. He attended Center Grove High School, and always had connections to the Bloomington area — his mom graduated from South in 1981, and Norris graduated from Indiana University in 2016. During his senior year at IU, Norris student taught and coached at Jackson Creek. After the spring of 2016, he got a job teaching social studies and coaching at Greenfield Central Junior High, where he worked for four years. “I coached all kinds of stuff there… I got some good experience there, but I was really always looking to get back to Bloomington,” said Norris.

Norris spent a lot of time in Bloomington visiting family as a child, and always held the school system and community in high regard. “It’s always been a place I knew as having a really good school, a great football program — all things that I wanted to be a part of.  Bloomington always stood out to me as the one place in the state of Indiana that I wanted to be at,” said Norris. 

The transition for students from e-learning to in-person classes has been a challenge for Norris. “The difference in the experience that [South] students had last year compared to what my students at Greenfield had has been really surprising,” said Norris. Greenfield Central was one of the first districts in Indiana to go back in person — in 2020, they returned on July 31, and stayed fully in-person for most of the year. “Learning to adjust to some of the habits kids here gained through [learning online] has been challenging in some ways. The one thing I’ve taken from kids here, though, is that kids work really, really hard. I don’t have to push kids to do little things that make them successful… that’s something that teachers definitely shouldn’t take for granted,” said Norris. 

Now, you can find Norris teaching World History on the second floor, and later on in the year he’ll add US History to his schedule. Norris has always been interested in history. “Being able to tell stories is something I really enjoy,” said Norris. “I love seeing kids relate things in their own lives or in our society to things that happened hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. With contemporary history, it’s interesting seeing kids realize that history is a long thread — it’s not disconnected in any way. I enjoy seeing them make those connections,” said Norris.

In addition to teaching, Norris is a wide receivers coach for the football team. “This is actually my first year not coaching multiple sports at the same time, so it hasn’t been too hard a time. The administration does a really good job making sure I have everything I need… Athletics is an important part of any school’s culture, and I think South really appreciates that.”

It’s been a long time since Norris taught future Panthers at JCMS, but he still remembers the students. “One of the coolest things has been coming back and seeing some of the kids that I had in class as seventh graders… especially with some of the players that I’ve coached,” said Norris. Seniors on the football team now, like Cooper Fox, Jordan Tolden, and Murry Ross-Harman, were Norris’s students in 2016. “I was only 21 years old back then… we’ve all grown and changed a lot, but getting to be a small part of them wrapping up their career here at South is really special, and something I’ll look back on fondly,” said Norris.

Norris is happy to be back in B-town, and ready to settle down. “I’m just really grateful to be back at South and back in Bloomington. IU and Bloomington as a community are places that have done a lot for myself and my family. My goal is to serve, and to try to give back what’s been given to me, selflessly,” said Norris. “This is something I look forward to doing for a very long time.”