Remembering Norma Keizer
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March 8, 2013

Remembering Norma Keizer

by Donald De Riggs Fri Mar 08, 2013

There are several more eminent persons whose lives the late Norma Keizer would have impacted on positively, but I hasten to share my own experience with this quiet giant with an unassuming personality. That was Norma Keizer.{{more}}

I was one of several teachers “fired” for my active involvement in the 1975 teachers’ strike, following which I decided to pursue a career in photography and actually ran Foto’s Photo Studio for four years, before I was summoned to classroom duties again. I used to be commissioned to take pictures of all classes for the GHS magazine and one day Norma asked me to come and teach French at the GHS, having taught both French and Spanish at Bishop’s College previously; but my forte was Geography, so I told her that I would think about it. After two weeks, Norma called and asked me what my decision was, because the GHS was in dire need of a French teacher for the lower forms, to ease the stress from her, because as Headmistress, she would still conduct French classes despite her regular administrative duties. That was the confidence Mrs Keizer had in me as a student teacher.

At the same time Bertram “Timmy” Richards also wanted a Geography teacher to teach all levels, preparing fifth formers for GCE, so when Mrs Keizer called a third time to find out if I had made up my mind I told her “Yes, but to teach Geography at the Intermediate High School” (IHS). We both laughed and she wished me well. Those were good wishes, as my students had 100 per cent passes for GCE in Geography that year. I taught IHS for one year, alongside teachers like Ellsworth “Shake” Keane, Freddy Layne, now a medical doctor and others before attending the Teachers’ College.

Straight out of Teachers’ College my photographic and communication skills were once again needed and the pay was better than teaching by 1/3, so I joined the staff of the then GIS, now API, as the official photographer cum journalist for the government, a job that brought me into every home that had a TV.

When the “SEARCHLIGHT” newspaper began with Norma Keizer at the helm, I was a regular contributor to that and other local papers under the nom de plume “Small Axe”; she never turned down any of my articles and would occasionally send me a cheque, which I would either politely return or never cash. If I was the only photographer at a public function, I would supply her and other papers with a story and pictures, as I understood the importance of letting the public know what was happening locally, a habit still practiced.

The farewell service held on the GHS compound on Tuesday, February 26 was an emotional experience for me. I visited the tuck shop twice for paper towels, not to wipe sweat, but to mop up tears that flowed easily hearing about the wonderful achievements of this fine lady. When one looks around the GHS compound, her mark is indelibly left in concrete, blocks and equipment, having struggled against the odds to have a science lab and hard court built; but that was not all, the GHS steel orchestra has graced the stage at the Victoria Park for the Junior Panorama competitions, which that school won on several occasions, one of my daughters being one of the first pannists in that steel orchestra, … the brain-child of Norma Keizer.

More can be said, but others no doubt, will add to the wonderful mosaic that depicts the fulsome life of Norma Keizer.