MUSCATINE, Iowa–Over the past 15 years, Burlington native Tammi Turner has made a career for herself in education, working her way up through many different positions and discovering ways to help students and other educators and administrators succeed. This school year, Turner looks forward to serving as a principal for the very first time at McKinley Elementary.
After graduating from college with a degree in visual communication, design, and studio art, Turner thought she wanted a career in graphic design. However, after a year in the field, she found it did not suit her. After working as a waitress, she took an open position as a paraprofessional for the Burlington Community School District. Though Turner had never thought about working with children before, she found that she loved it. Turner started talking classes part time in the evening and completed the coursework necessary to get a teaching license in elementary education.
Turner had opportunities to work with students of many different ages, teaching prekindergarten, first grade, and third grade at different times. Turner then took an interest in administration, taking on roles as a curriculum lead and then as an assistant principal in Linn-Mar Community School District.
Turner found her last year serving as an assistant principal challenging, as she did not feel she received the support from other administrators that she needed to collaborate effectively. As she thought about what to do, her husband encouraged her to consider taking a position as a principal herself so that she could provide the kind of environment for administrators and other staff members that she felt they deserved. The idea appealed to her. “I don’t ever want another teacher to feel like I did,” she said. “I felt like I was on an island by myself.”
After completing the certification to work as a principal, Turner started exploring different school districts. When she saw Muscatine needed a principal, she took an interest in it. She remembered that as a high school student, she had played against Muscatine in soccer many times and had positive memories of them. “They were super nice and super kind, and I remembered that.”
The more research Turner did into Muscatine, the more excited she felt about the prospect of serving as a principal there. She appreciated that Muscatine Community School District had a similar number of student to Burlington Community School District, and that Muscatine offered a small town feel while still having lots to offer. She also liked the look of many of the initiatives Muscatine Community School District had already started and welcomed the chance to help them succeed.
As Turner prepares for her first school year as principal of McKinley Elementary School, she plans to put lots of effort into getting to know all of the teachers and staff members at the school, all of the school’s students and their families, and members of the wider community. “I’m really looking forward to building relationships with staff and students and families and finding my place in the community,” she shared.
This summer, Turner, along with her husband and two daughters, also look forward to getting settled and making Muscatine their home. “We’re just excited to be here and to be part of everything going on,” Turner beamed.