Mr. Shawn Turner, one of the newer teachers here at the Mount has a lot to offer, for not only the students and the faculty, but the mathematics department as well. I was given the chance to speak with Mr. Turner to learn more about him as a teacher, and as a person, and to come away with a better understanding as to why he came to teach at Mount Saint Joseph High School.
Mr. Turner told me first, the reason he came here to Mount Saint Joseph High School, was due to his interview with Mount Saint Joseph Principal Mr. David Norton. “Circumstances played out that I really wanted to be a part of this community after my interview with Mr. Norton.” Mr. Norton told him that Mount Saint Joseph will stand by justice and will condemn any kind of injustice or unwelcoming behavior in the school. Mr. Turner said that a lot of the schools that he applied to did not really have this type of statement. “A lot of the schools where I applied did not have that solid of an admission.” Mr. Turner said that he knew that Mount Saint Joseph, because of this policy, was not just a normal high school. Mr. Turner said that Mr. Norton believed we are doing good things for the world and that we have men that really do matter. “When Mr. Norton said that I knew that Mount Saint Joe was not just a normal high school, we were trying to do some things that were for the good of the world so that we have men that actually matter.”
In my interview with Mr. Turner, I also found out more insight into what really led him to want to start teaching in the first place. Mr.Turner started out by saying that when he was young he would like to teach his younger siblings in his room. Mr. Turner got a chalkboard from his mom, and he and his siblings would pretend that they were in class and Mr. Turner was the teacher. Mr. Turner’s grandmother when he was in first grade would make him check her spelling, “we had spelling tests and my grandmother instead of making me spell words would tell me to check her spelling of words, to see if it was correct or incorrect. So I got a very early start in checking papers.” Mr. Turner also got to check his aunt’s papers and would teach when she was not teaching. Soon Mr. Turner realized that he liked what he was doing and enjoyed the prospect of teaching.
“I am paving the way for my younger brother, I am paving my way as an African American teacher for other African American male teachers, for you all, and for you all and the way that I teach, and I am paving the way for your understanding of Mathematics. I have to be a model for that kind of thing.” – Mr. Shawn Turner
Mr. Turner said that in college he did not pursue teaching, but he did pursue mathematics. He also said that he did a lot of internships in college, teaching at middle schools and elementary schools. Despite what many students assume, Mr. Turner did not attend Mount Saint Joe, instead attending Loyola-Blakefield for high school, but he did say a lot of the values of the Jesuits are similar to the Xavier Brothers. He said that he likes how at Mount Saint Joseph those values seem to merge, “we say ‘Men Who Matter’ here, guys in Jesuits schools say ‘Men who form with others’.”
Mr. Turner also told me a little about his personal life. He told me that here at Mount Saint Joseph one of our fundamental statements is to be the man who God intends you to be. Mr.Turner said that in his world that “we stand on the shoulders of giants” and “to whom much is given much is required.” Mr. Turner said that he loves that in his family, everyone seems to support one another. “When things really [go badly], we are always a phone call away, a block away, or a car ride away.” Mr. Turner also said that he has realized that the things that he does in his life will have an impact on future generations. “I am paving the way for my younger brother, I am paving my way as an African American teacher for other African American male teachers, for you all, and for you all and the way that I teach, and I am paving the way for your understanding of Mathematics. I have to be a model for that kind of thing.” Mr. Turner also said “I am always giving to people what I expect to be given to me.”
Towards the end of the interview Mr. Turner said that he considers himself to be a very consistent person and that he cares a lot about what he does. “I’m real, I love hard, I fight hard, I care hard and a lot of that has shifted from my upbringing as a “Baltimorean.” Mr. Turner talked about how he has had to deal with injustices in his life and how that has led him to be where he is now, adding, “I am standing on the shoulders of giants so those who gave to me, I am paving the way for the next generation you, the guys younger than you, that I am going to become a giant to whose shoulders others can stand.”
I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to interview Mr. Shawn Turner to learn more about him and I think the school is blessed to have Mr. Turner as a teacher here at Mount Saint Joseph High School. His life path has made him the teacher that he is, and he is hoping to share that journey with his students as they move beyond the walls of St. Joe.
Christian Avara is a senior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.