Ten years ago Wendy Turner never guessed she’d be Delaware’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, mainly because she was an accountant for 17 years. But she needed a change and switched to teaching.
“I didn’t want to work in corporate America anymore,” says Turner. “Being a parent greatly changed my perspective and was a significant factor in influencing my deep desire to do something meaningful.”
Enter Wilmington University.
Turner began night classes in education and admits the work was difficult but bearable, Turner created a WilmU tribe: Classmates, advisers and instructors became her support system.
She completed student teaching requirements with cooperating teacher Courtney Fox, a WilmU alumna who was named Delaware’s 2008 Teacher of the Year. Turner’s college supervisor, Tony Ligatti, was a recently retired and respected school principal for 34 years. Her principal at that time was Joyce Skrobot, a WilmU College of Education adjunct program coordinator.
“I’ve always been well supported by the University,” says Turner. “The quality of the instructors and the leadership from the school has been top-notch.”
“I’ve always been well supported by the University,” says Turner. “The quality of the instructors and the leadership from the school has been top-notch. Because of the accessibility of the programs, the instructors and students are there because they want to be. Everyone genuinely wants to work hard to help you succeed.”
Turner completed her M.Ed. in Elementary Education in 2010 with a 4.0 GPA, in addition to scoring outstanding ratings from her instructors and supervisors. After her Delaware Teacher of the Year win, she received accolades from her peers and state legislators.
Her proudest moment came when her win was announced on the intercom at her school, Mt. Pleasant Elementary, where she teaches second-grade students. “I share with them any awards I win,” says Turner. “I explain to them that I receive awards because I work hard every day. That’s what I want to instill in them. That they have to do the best they can every day.”
That directive is working. “She has emboldened my children by making them feel as though they can tackle absolutely anything with the right attitude,” says school parent Holly Feldman. “She asks them to take risks and dream big, making it clear that she believes in them.”
Turner joins a group of Wilmington University graduates who have won the prestigious title of Delaware Teacher of the Year. She is the eighth to win in the past 10 years.
“The University provides Delaware with 40 percent of its educators at a time when the pool of available teaching talent is shrinking,” says Dr. John Gray, dean of the College of Education.
“We have shown that we can help people who want to be teachers to achieve their goals, regardless of their backgrounds or career paths,” says Gray. “That’s the true mission of the College of Education and why we’re so committed to it.”
– Britney Gulledge
Photo by Paul Patton