Patrick Nolen’s almost four-decade career as an educator has placed him in public and private schools, gymnasiums, classrooms, administrative positions and in the
perilous passenger seats of driver’s ed students.
Though the soon-to-retire assistant superintendent has worn many hats in multiple settings throughout the Oklahoma City metro, one thing has remained the same.
“After 38 years, I still wake up excited to get back to work,” Nolen said.
Considering the demands of managing personnel for Norman Public Schools’ district of roughly 15,000 students and 900 teachers, this is no small statement.
“Outside issues in the classroom — if a door doesn’t lock, the roof leaks, a substitute teacher doesn’t show up, two students get in an altercation — an administrator can have the perfect day planned out and it will change hourly,” Nolen said. “You have to be flexible and know that you won’t have a moment to yourself from the time you enter the building to the time you leave. In this job, there are times of the year where you’ve got to pull 10 to 12 hours.”
For someone as passionate about the job as Nolen, this isn’t a problem — it isn’t even a deterrent, even after 38 years. Following his retirement date of Aug. 9, Nolen will take a (mandatory) 60-day break and return to the district as a part-time compliance officer.“I hate to start something and not see it through,” Nolen said. “There are initiatives and changes coming that I want to help with, but I knew I couldn’t keep doing this for four or five more years. It’s time for fresh blood and I don’t want to have a heart attack over my roll-top desk, so I’m going to take more time for myself but still stick around,” Nolen said.