February 3, 2015

An epidictic portrait of Norman Spatz

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

The name Norman Spatz is known throughout the English language college community of Quebec. He is no stranger to the French college community either. Those who frequent academic events in the college system have undoubtedly crossed paths with Norm. This article aims to examine the life of this peerless collaborator for the Profweb team who has left an indelible mark on the college network.

A Bit of History

Norman Spatz was born in New Jersey, where he was educated in the public school system. In elementary school, for his second language, he opted for German as Yiddish wasn’t offered. As early as the 6th grade, Norm knew he wanted to be an architect. After high school, he left New Jersey to go into the architecture program at Washington University in Missouri. To round out his university studies, he took one French elective course. Norm found French more difficult than German.

After finishing his Masters in Architecture, another choice loomed – Germany or Montreal? Norm opted for LA VILLE! He worked for several architectural firms and eventually decided to open his own. In 1989, he got his first taste of teaching architecture at the Cégep du Vieux Montréal. Tough times in 1995 and 1996 steered him toward a new mandate as a teacher of English as a Second Language. Then, in 1998 he took over the reins as coordinator of the department de Langues.

The Profweb Years

The 2006-2007 school year ushered in Norm’s arrival at Profweb, where he recognized his mission as a voice reflecting the realities of the English college community. At the time, the site had only one article in English. Norm rolled up his sleeves in order to build a site that reflected the English community’s energy and diversity!   He remembers his first article very well, which was written following an interview with a teacher from the Cégep de Sept-Îles. His long-time collaboration with Profweb (we might as well say 10-year collaboration) led to numerous articles and Real Life Stories written in English and in French – a rich contribution to the college network. Norm has also become a fixture within the English colleges, taking part in many activities while promoting Profweb’s services and those of the Ministry’s IT Partners.

Unforgettable Moments at Profweb

Norm holds many fond memories of his time at Profweb. Among these was the launch of the second iteration of Profweb’s website. The team’s anxiety was running high reflecting the nervousness of Lise Favreau, who was Profweb’s coordinator at the time. Nothing was working as it should on that day: disasters, delays and other hiccups, but when all was said and done, everyone was impressed when the cork finally popped from the champagne bottle.

Another moment that Norm particularly holds dear is an interview he conducted with Heather Sorella of Lasalle College. At the time, she was the project lead for an on-line course whose participants came from Montreal, Lima, Peru and Hong Kong. As part of this course, students had to hunt for different types of local fabrics and present them to students from the other cities. This international and interactive approach would not have been possible, had it not been for advances in information and communication technologies! Norm recognized the awesome potential of ICTs that were starting to emerge.

Retirement Beckons

Norm has become a young retiree since his decision to move on in December 2014. Of course his retirement will be an active one! He has signed on to promote the NewsActivist web site to facilitate the building of a community of practice in English teaching. He is also investing his time and energy in the organization of an International Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs Congress to potentially take place in Montreal in 2017. Norm is also hoping to take full advantage of his condo in Florida, where he can devote more time to reading and staying in shape – two activities that occupy an important place in his life.

Thank you Norm!

The Profweb team salutes you and wishes to reiterate its profound gratitude for all of the effort and dedication you put into these last ten years.  Norm… We’ll see you in Saguenay for the AQPC Symposium. You’re invited to dine at our table!

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Ryan W. Moon
Ryan W. Moon
3 February 2015 20h06

As I recall it, I first met Norman Spatz at a “Resource person” meeting for the English side of APOP, which was held at the Institut de Tourisme et de l’Hôtellerie du Québec. I think all of the English people at the event remember meeting Norm that day, because he spoke so freely and often. In the close to 10 years that I have known Norm, this has been a constant. There are many things I admire about Norm, such as his energy, and his generosity. In the first case, whenever I was attending a conference with Norm, he always seemed to have the time to fit in a workout in the morning, but was one of the last people on the dance floor after the banquet at night. He would also invariably be marking some of his students work and finishing up an article for Profweb in the same 24 hour period (while deftly navigating Jewish holidays). Most people would have their brain completely fried with this kind of intense schedule. But Norm lives in the moment and always has time to talk to you. You never get the feeling that his mind is wandering elsewhere. When you are with him, he is with you.

In terms of his generosity, Norm is a tireless promoter of projects within the English community and developed profound connections with teachers and professionals across the province. Not only did he win the hearts of the English community, but he is also widely recognized in the French system. He always tried to connect people working on similar projects or in connected fields, because he knows the synergy that this can create.

The English college scene won’t be the same without Norm, but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of our good friend!

Have a wonderful and well-deserved retirement Norm!

Catherine Rhéaume
Catherine Rhéaume
3 February 2015 20h08

Norm Spatz really deserves a wonderful retirement! He’s been an exceptional teacher, the very heart of “the English side of Profweb”, and so many other things in the college network… A very inspiring person to work with! And what’s great about being inspiring is that, even when you retire, your ideas are still active through the colleagues you inspired… As you often say, Norm : “Bravo!” Enjoy Florida’s sun! (And Montreal’s too ;-))

Laurence Lachapelle-Bégin
Laurence Lachapelle-Bégin
3 February 2015 20h10

Can we say Norm is a “network event fixture”?

Avery Rueb
Avery Rueb
3 February 2015 21h37

Thank you Norm for everything! You are a Formula 1 engine in our college network!

Alex Enkerli
Alex Enkerli
3 February 2015 21h48


(Cue theme song…)

“Sometimes you want to go. / Where everybody knows your name. / And they’re always glad you came.”

First met Norm through Moodle Day and kept talking about his energising personality, to those unlucky souls who haven’t had the privilege of meeting him. Was only been able to work with him for a little while but here’s to hoping we’ll have other opportunities to interact.

Don’t be a stranger, Norm. And, really, I can’t wait to hear you sing!

Heather Sorella
Heather Sorella
3 February 2015 21h58

Thank you Norm for allowing my College and I to be part of Profweb. You made the interviews personal and your fascination to learn about our programs always made you the first person I would contact when I had a topic/collaboration with technology and fashion to be discussed.
Happy retirement and enjoy!

Giel Hofmann
Giel Hofmann
5 February 2015 0h59

Wow! Retiring so soon? I really enjoyed our conversations and always had the feeling that when you came into the room the sun ( and technology discussions) came with you. Now the sun will be in Florida… As someone said, don’t be a stranger. We’ll miss your smiling face and good words. All the best in your retirement!

Gina Lavine
Gina Lavine
10 February 2015 23h49

Norm has been the most amazing wonderful colleague who has contributed greatly to my professional growth. I met Norm at RASCALS over 20 years ago and I became a groupie! I see I am not the only one!!

Norm..I wish you all the best in all your future endeavors!