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'Kristell' clear benefit for Langston Chapel Middle
School principal praises teacher, counselor
Unsung turner for web
Kristell Turner came to Langston Chapel Middle School last year and immediately made her mark as graduation counselor. She's back in the classroom now, but still helping students having a tough time. - photo by ROGER ALLEN/special
    The way that Elizabeth Williams, the principal at Langston Chapel Middle School, sees it, she scored a real coup when she hired Kristell Turner last year.
    Turner attended Morgan State University in Baltimore and then Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., where she majored in Biology and Environmental Sciences.     She began teaching in 1998.
    Turner was hired as graduation coach, which in a middle school essentially means you are helping at-risk students pass the rigorous courses and continue on into high school.
    Born and raised in West Palm Beach, Fla., to Alvin and Carolyn Jones, she is married to Grant Turner. They have three children: Krystyn, 8, and Grant Jr., 5, who are both enrolled at Brooklet Elementary; and Grace, 3.
    After she started at Langston Chapel, Turner soon got permission to began using a new program, called “Why Try.” The program focuses it's efforts on showing struggling students why they need to put forth the effort to meet standards they need to get to high school.
    A big part of the initial effort was simply pushing attendance at school. So, by using incentives for perfect attendance Turner was able to quickly turn around the at-risk population's absentee rates.
    Another facet of the program is its multimedia approach, using combinations of music, video, and accessing the Internet to draw comparisons to and create analogies for choosing the right and most productive lifestyle possible. Two school counselors (Retta Bland & Natasha Natson) are a very important part of Turner's team.
    Langston Chapel has a 73 percent rate of free and reduced lunches. Turner began instructing faculty and staff of the necessity of developing strong interpersonal relationships with their more-troubled students, even if their initial efforts were rejected.
    Next, Turner incorporated the Fast Forward Program, which was actually piloted by LCMS teachers. Turner and Patty Ward used the program so well that they have earned the school the certification as a “National Fast Forward Visitation School.”
    As Turner stated, “This is such an emotional time for these kids already, and when they let their guards down and tell you really what's going on, it can be nearly impossible to not feel your heart-strings being pulled. However, it is essential that the teacher maintain that teacher-student distance.
    As school budgets have tightened, Turner was moved this year to a regular school classroom. She hopes that more teachers will incorporate the best of “Why Try” into their regular classroom lessons,. She said the program has not only helped her students, but it has helped her become a better teacher, as well.

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