Iola High School teacher Joseph Turner hit the ground running. Not only did he take on teaching but he is coaching as well. In these positions he is able share his knowledge and interests with his students.
Turner teaches language arts and photography as an elective at Iola High School to freshmen and sophomores.
He has a passion for writing and chose majoring in English for that very reason.
“I wasn’t getting any enjoyment out of anything else,” he said. “I knew it was hard to start in the reading and writing field. Becoming an English teacher still allowed me to do the things I liked.”
Growing up, Turner experienced many different places because his father was in the U.S. Air Force. They moved to multiple states in his youth — Missouri, Florida and New Jersey to name a few.
Turner said there was a lot of pressure moving so much.
“We lived on a base so there were people who were used to that lifestyle,” Turner said, and his travels have sparked an idea for his classroom.
“Since I’ve been able to travel I would like to start a pen pal program with my students,” he said. “I want to have my students write to other students out of state or preferably out of the country. It’s my secret goal I’ve been hoarding and I think the students would gain a worldly perspective.”
His freshman classes have just finished reading “Of Mice and Men” and learned about the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. His sophomores started the year by jumping into reading strategies.
As high school years approached, Turner’s family moved to Kansas. He attended Salina Central High School for all four years and it was there that he excelled in cross country. He still enjoys cross country and is the assistant coach for the IHS cross country team.
“I jumped at the chance to coach,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons I came down here. I was very lucky to get that opportunity.”
This year a middle school cross country team was added to the district. Seventh- and eighth-grade students practice with the high school runners.
WHEN IT came to choosing an elective to teach, Turner picked photography. In his course students are learning styles of photography and basic editing skills. Turner said he himself is still an amateur at the subject but enjoys it.
“A lot of research goes into it,” he said. “We’re learning side by side.”
He earned his degree in secondary education from Kansas State University and graduated in December 2012. Before making Iola his home he was a substitute teacher. This is his first year full-time teaching and he has a few goals for himself.
“I don’t want to be too busy where I’m not having fun,” he said.
In his spare time he likes to take advantage of what Iola has to offer. He said he’s always at the sporting events and he does a lot of bicycling.
“I love that Iola has the Prairie Spirit Trail,” he said.
He also cooks, is a big movie buff and likes to read and write in his free time.
“I play guitar, bass and piano,” he said. “I’ve been playing for 10 years now.”
The community has impressed Turner.
“This community really helps the school,” he said. “It means a lot to teachers to have that backup and line of defense in the home.”
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