By Diana Johnson
Henry Turner started his new position July 1, hired after a rigorous interviewing process during the last school year. The search for a new BHS principal began when Mr. Turner’s predecessor, Jon Sills, was named Superintendent of Bedford Public Schools.
“When I heard about the opening in Bedford it really jumped at me as a nice fit, a nice opportunity,” said Mr. Turner, who is very excited to be joining BHS. “Growing up in a small town, I like that feel. I also having worked in a neighboring town, know a bit about the town and the diversity of the town. I was really interested in working with a diverse student body, with kids coming from Hanscom and coming from Boston. That sort of diversity energizes me. And I’ve heard such great things about the school and the district throughout my years.”
Mr. Turner, who enjoyed his own high school experience in his hometown of Melrose, brings with him an enthusiasm for students to both learn and have fun in the four years they spend at BHS.
“My message to all students the first day of school is to be connected to your school, to join a club, to join an activity, and to form a connection with an adult that they trust,” he said. “My vision for a great school is one that teaches all kids at a high level, and one where all kids feel connected to their school, and that all kids love,,, . They may not know that they love their school, but I would hope that they know that their school loves them.”
Currently, he is working through the summer to prepare for the upcoming year.
“I think that Mr. Sills is leaving and transitioning to me a school that is in a really great place,” he said.“Right now I’m working on my entry plan, which I developed in the spring. It’s sort of a process of allowing me to ask questions. So I’ve created an online survey. It’s open to parents, community members, students, and teachers to give me feedback to better understand more about the community and more about the school.”
If you would like to help Mr. Turner prepare for his new position as BHS principal, please fill out his survey at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?fromEmail=true&formkey=dDFNRTB6dU5oOE9pNThfSXhkMVFfdWc6MQ
One of his primary goals is to meet the school’s faculty and staff. He has met about half of them so far and plans to get to know the rest by October. The staff he has met so far has impressed him with their commitment and passion to help students and their solid professionalism.
Additionally, he is getting acquainted with his support staff and starting to discuss goals for the first days of school.
“I know that the school is really asking some great questions about how to address issues of equity here. So that’s certainly something we’ll be looking at. Also, how to use technology effectively in the classroom to improve student learning.”
Mr. Turner was hired after a three-stage interviewing process carried out by a large number of community members. The initial interviewing committee was composed of a mixture of students, committee members, administrators, teachers and parents. A smaller second round with the superintendent, the assistant superintendent, and the then-current principal, Mr. Sills followed. The final stage involved a full-day visit to the school, at which time, he met with more of the faculty, parents, and students and with his future administrative team.
“It is so important to find a candidate who is the right fit for Bedford, and in Henry Turner, I know that we have found such match,” said Mr. Sills in the BHS March newsletter in which he announced Mr. Turner’s appointment as the school’s future principal. “Personally, I look forward with great excitement to working with Henry in the years to come.”
Inspired by a high school history teacher, Mr. Turner had wanted to be a teacher since his own high school years. He loved his subject, social studies, and sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with students, as well as coaching sports.
Although he did not initially plan to go into administration, he was encouraged by colleagues and mentors to involve himself in the schools administrative sphere and quickly found it to be incredibly rewarding.
“What I really enjoy is that as an administrator you get to work with a larger band of students than you would in a classroom,” he said. “I liked the idea of working with all the constituencies of the school: parents, kids, teachers. And helping to move a large organization into continually helping kids.”
Mr. Turner received his BA from UMass Amherst and his MA from Framingham State. After college, he taught social studies and coached sports at Mohawk Regional High School in western Massachusetts and Lexington High School for nine years before moving on to Newton South High School as a housemaster for four years,, serving as a type of assistant principal, responsible for 450 students each year. He is currently enrolled in an educational leadership doctoral program at Boston College.