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Top Teachers: Samuel Turner

Holman M.S., sixth-eighth grades
Growing up, Samuel Turner always assumed that he would follow the family military tradition and end up in a job in which he designed or built airplanes, tanks and helicopters, or perhaps joined the Military Corps of Engineers.

But a Saturday morning during his senior year of high school changed all that.

Spending time at the Nottoway County home of his English teacher, the late John B. Cyrus, completely changed his perspective, said Turner. It was Cyrus – along with other teachers and principals he admired – who gave him an appreciation of the opportunity teachers have to make a difference in young lives.

Looking back, Turner said, he always had people around him who provided advice and “taught me a different way to view things.”

His sister and brother both challenged and nurtured him, and he noted that both have had successful military careers, in addition to becoming teachers in their respective fields.  

As a teacher of pre-engineering, technology, and 21st-century learning, Turner (who taught at Short Pump Middle School before Holman opened) said that among his biggest challenges are the misperceptions that exist about gender in that curriculum. He has found it especially rewarding, as a result, to watch female students blossom.

He described one such student who began besting older students in competitions as a sixth-grader, delivered winning campaign speeches as a seventh-grader, moved on to leadership positions in TSA (Technology Student Association) and “almost single-handedly increased the female interest in engineering, technology and TSA.” Recently, he said, he was honored to provide letters of reference as she applied to schools of higher education.

Another challenge of teaching technology, he said, is what he calls the “influences of the modern Information Age.”

While modern electronic marvels save time and provide instant information and entertainment, he said, they also foster a perception that technology is the answer to everything, “and that success is just a keypunch away. 

“I try to instill in the students,” said Turner, “that no matter what electronic gadgets we have at our disposal, they are [simply] tools . . .The greatest computer or tool ever made sits squarely on their shoulders – and its potential is limitless.”  

He also strives to find special and unique things about what interests each student, and to teach “every student in every class like they are preparing to go to Harvard.”

Seeing his students embrace new ideas and apply their classroom lessons in exciting ways at technology competitions, he says, is “marvelous to behold.”

Turner succeeds at getting to know every student, according to parents, because his work day often lasts from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“His door is always open,” marveled one parent. “Kids will hang out in his classroom both before and after school, when they need a place to ‘just be’, or need a shoulder to lean on. . . He teaches so much more than just technology. He welcomes all children, and finds a way to connect with each one.”


Community

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

Highland Springs field to be dedicated in honor of longtime coach Spears

The Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks will dedicate the Highland Springs Little League Majors Field in memory and honor of Rev. Robert “Bob” L. Spears, Jr., on April 12 with a ceremony at the field at 8 a.m.

Spears served the league as a coach and volunteer for 30 years and was praised as a pioneer for equality. His “Finish strong” motto embodied ethical perseverance on the field and in life. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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