Spotlight on: LEARN D.C.’s ‘Unsung Hero’ Helen Turner

Every year, LEARN’s Unsung Hero Award recognizes colleagues for their extraordinary efforts in supporting students and staff. This award is a special honor for LEARN teammates because it is based on peer nominations and reflects the collective high opinion of the recipients’ colleagues.
Helen Turner is a 1st grade teacher at LEARN D.C. and a 2023 Unsung Hero Award recipient. She recently talked about her inspiration for becoming an educator and what receiving LEARN’s Unsung Hero Award means to her.

“I was extremely humbled and grateful to receive this award,” Helen said. “I work alongside some of the most talented, creative and knowledgeable educators who I believe are also very deserving of this recognition.” 

Who (or what) inspired you to become a teacher? 

My three older children (who are now 27, 25 and 23) and my 8-year-old were my inspiration for becoming an educator. They each displayed different learning styles. Through academic education, training, and volunteering in their classrooms, I began to notice other students who shared my kids’ learning abilities, and I wanted to be a part of helping those students reach their full potential in achieving their academic goals. 

How has LEARN supported you throughout your professional development? 

I feel that LEARN has and continues to provide opportunities for continued education and professional development for its teachers and staff. I have completed mentorship and coaching sessions that provide meaningful feedback. This professional environment supports my personal growth as a teacher and these attributes are reflected in the students’ academic, social and emotional growth. 

You were a recipient of LEARN’s Unsung Hero Award earlier this year. What does the award mean to you and what are some of the ways you support your LEARN teammates and student success? 

My passion is educating and developing young children to be lifelong learners. Entering a classroom with the mindset that our students are always first is what is important to me. Collaborating with my team has been an intricate part of my teaching. I enjoy exchanging ideas with my LEARN teammates that support student growth.  

I value each of my teammates, so greeting them with a smile or a hug or celebrating them is the least I can do to show how much they are appreciated. It really does take a village to educate children and I feel that when we (the adults) show love, kindness and patience toward each other, it trickles down to the young people in our care.

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