Assistant Principal Janna Turner reflects on family as retirement nears

Assistant Principal Janna Turner reflects on family as retirement nears
Posted on 12/14/2021
For Janna Turner, a career in education is truly a family affair. Even at a young age, she dreamed of doing what her mother, grandmother and several aunts and uncles had done before her: become a teacher. “I’ve always felt like it was something I was charged to do,” Turner said. “My family really inspired me to serve children, and before I knew it, I was a music education major graduating from Lambuth College and substitute teaching before I even had my degree.”

That “family” dynamic doesn’t stop there. In 1992, about a year after her first teaching job, Janna landed at Houston Middle School, where she would eventually work a few doors down from a band director she “found to be pretty darn cute,” her ultimate husband Brad Turner. Spoiler alert: The “family” storyline has trickled down to another generation. Janna’s oldest son is currently the choir director at West Collierville Middle School. “Teaching has blessed my family in so many ways. What started as a work family turned into my actual lovely family. It’s a blessing.”

For the past seven years, Janna has served as Assistant Principal at Arlington Elementary School, and now, 31 years after beginning her teaching career, she’s closing the chapter on her story in public education and will retire at the end of the semester on December 17th. In her final week at Arlington Elementary, her staff, colleagues old and new and family members threw a celebration in her honor to recognize the value she brought to AES, Arlington Community Schools and education as a whole.

“Working with Janna has been like the easiest thing in the world,” said fellow AES Assistant Principal Carl Booker. “She’s made it super easy, super fun and super exciting.” Pointing to a multitude of skills, like her constant professionalism, ability to clearly communicate, know-how to working with parents, students and teachers and overseeing IEP meetings and state testing, Booker said Janna built a reputation that can’t be replaced. “Her 31 years of knowledge is unmatched,” he said. “I know that’s one of the things I’ll miss about her - beyond her friendship and love she has for people – her knowledge about all things education is unreal. Working with her has been like having an encyclopedia right with me.”

“When I think of Janna, the song from Toy Story, You’ve Got a Friend in Me, comes to mind,” said AES Principal Tonya Hawkins. “That’s just who she is. She goes above and beyond for anybody, always. She brings a positive light to the building by always smiling and by having a great outlook no matter the situation. She’s a friend to all in the building, whether you’re an employee, student or parent.”

As she absorbs her final moments as an assistant principal, she can’t help but think back to the theme that’s followed her all these years: family. “These are my friends,” she said looking around the room during her retirement celebration. “These people are my family and have been everything to me. They’ve been there to comfort me when I needed them, and I hope to think that I have comforted them when they needed it too. Everyone here is so caring towards each other, and we all have the same goal of helping children. So many things have changed over the 31 years, but I still think people get into this profession for the same reasons I did all those years ago. That’s to guide students and give them the best education and chance to succeed. I know my reason to teach never changed.”