With 15 years of experience as a high school administrator, Dr. Henry Turner is most proud of the collaborative environment and efforts he works to establish to empower students to fight hate and bigotry within their school community. Committed to preparing his students to flourish in an increasingly digital future, Turner has led two successful 1:1 laptop programs, on the premise that technology is a means to solve real-world problems, create equitable opportunities for all, and narrow economic and racial gaps. He has a newsletter on social justice leadership https://bit.ly/HenryJTurner.
Dr. Turner proudly serves as principal at Newton North High School in Newton, MA. He is dedicated to amplifying the culture and interests of North’s diverse community, one of the nation’s top large, comprehensive high schools. Dr. Turner has helped Newton North continue its focus on Social Justice by creating new courses such as Sustainability and Action through Literature as well as the Seals of Biliteracy, Civic Action, and Social Justice which students can attain to be placed on their transcript.
Recognized for his inclusive leadership style and dedication to student advocacy, Dr. Turner was named 2021 K12 Principal of the Year. The award recognized his efforts to implement antiracist learning skills, incorporate culturally responsive instructional practices, and ensure the sustainability of these practices by addressing necessary structural and systematic changes to combat systemic racism.
The story that impacted Dr. Turner’s focus
Dr. Turner reflected with Barbara about the story of a group of students with confederate flags that happened in September 2016, two weeks after he had become principal of Newton North High School.
Several articles about this incident:
- Students unfurl Confederate flag near Newton North High
- Newton North High School: Talking To Students When A Symbol Of Racial Hatred Is Unfurled Close To Home
- Students Wave Confederate Flag at Newton North High School
- Newton Students Wave Confederate Flag – NECN
Newton North is a Comprehensive High School–Design and Visual Communications program created Public Art Project, which is a part of the Career Technical Education (CTE) Department. Students in the Career Tech program brainstormed ideas for a Cultural Design. It took three years and now students are looking at creating a 3D design for the school.
Listen to the entire reflection with Dr. Turner because it went really deep about the culture, social just skills we want students to develop, anti-racist work needed, and the importance of teaching and modeling diversity, equity, and inclusion. Learn about his own experiences along with how schools can change. Some of his ideas include:
- How do we help teachers understand their own biases?
- How to restructure schools and change the narrative?
- How to get started on anti-racist work and be an organization committed to dismantling racism?
- How to rethink assessment and grading policies so all learners benefit?
- How to include student voices in making decisions that impact all learners?
- How to participate in uncomfortable conversations using the cycle of inquiry around learning, reflecting, acting, and assessing?
- What is in his upcoming book: Changing the Narrative: How to Foster an Anti-Racist Culture with Kathy Lopes?
More about Dr. Henry Turner
A national speaker, Dr. Turner shares his experience as an innovative instructional leader, passionate advocate, and committed antiracist. He also advises school districts, organizations, and educators in this work. He has a newsletter on social justice leadership https://bit.ly/HenryJTurner.
Dr. Turner has a BA from UMass Amherst and an Ed.D in Education Leadership from Boston College. His dissertation was focused on distributed leadership and large-scale technology acceptance in school districts. He has also taught graduate courses on Race and Urban Education, School Leadership, and Supervision and Evaluation. He currently teaches aspiring principals at the Education Leadership Institute.
Prior to being a school administrator, Dr. Turner was a high school history teacher at Lexington High School in MA. Outside of work, he enjoys cooking, traveling, his daily yoga practice, and spending time with his wife and daughter.
Henry’s Contact Information
Interested in checking out more of the Rethinking Learning podcasts and reflections, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
For more information about Barbara’s book, Define Your WHY, go to this page or click on the image of the book for resources, questions, and links.