Beloved English Teacher Mrs. Turner to Retire


Sean Smith, Editor in Chief

This June Mrs. Turner says farewell to her Wantagh teaching days. Mrs. Turner started her journey in the Wantagh School District 31 school years ago. She has taught students in all grades in classes like College English, World Lit., and Creative Writing. She also taught in Wantagh Middle School for eight years before moving up to the high school.

Mrs. Turner grew up in Brooklyn with her parents and sister, but then moved to Sayville in Suffolk County. Her mother was born in Italy while her father was born in New York. She has two graduate degrees from Michigan State and LIU Post. She is currently taking classes to achieve a third Masters, in Fine Arts at SUNY Stony Brook Southampton.

During Mrs. Turner’s retirement she plans to do “anything she wants to, anytime she wants to.” She will move to Chicago, Illinois to be with her grandchildren, daughter, and son-in-law. She also plans to spend time in Louisiana with her daughter, Vermont with her step son and his family, and Italy where her cousins live. She says it is possible that she will marry her boyfriend, J.D., but only if he gets the band “Granddaddy” to perform at their wedding.

“Violet Turner is the Leonardo DaVinci of the English department,” says fellow English teacher Mrs. Nieves. “She is a master presenter, celebrated editor, revered educator, accredited photographer and a huge Yankee fan. It would be impossible to list all of Mrs. Turner’s talents and accomplishments because they are limitless. She has been my mentor, my colleague and fortunately for me, my friend.”

Mrs. Turner does not plan to return to W.H.S. to sub like other retirees have in the past, but she will think of everyone fondly and hopes her friends will come visit her. Mrs. Turner advised our school’s Literary Magazine, “Escapades” for about 17 years. She won Advisor of the year for 2015-16, her last year as advisor, and says it was a great honor and she was very moved and surprised.

“Mrs. Turner did a terrific job advising Escapades,” said Mr. Kravitz, a fellow English teacher who advises “The Warrior.” “Her passion for photography, fiction and poetry shines through all of “Escapades’” pages. She really brings out the creativity in students, which is not easy to do.”

Mrs. Turner, who teaches the English elective Creative Writing, writes extensively in her free time. She has written for “Newsday,” the “Village Voice,” and WDRE. She plans to continue with freelancing. Known to have written manuscripts, would she would ever publish one of them? She said, it’s possible. Mrs. Turner says that she always loved to read and write. She won a few writing contests in college and when she had kids she began doing freelance journalism. Her articles were published quickly.

“If you walk into Turner’s room everywhere you look you will find something that you can learn from,” says former Wantagh English teacher, Mr. Dubin. “She always offers a stimulating educational experience. Teachers like that are hard to come by these days.”

Wantagh senior Kaitlin DiGraziano said she likes the way Mrs. Turner responds to people who don’t want to share their art with the world. “It’s not surgery. Nobody will die. Just do it!”

“She will be missed from Wantagh,”says Wantagh Senior Katie Goldrick. “She certainly brought a lively atmosphere to the school.”

Next year Mrs. Turner says that she will miss entering a room having a compulsory audience who wants her approval. She will also miss the energy, originality, and young minds of the students. She says that teaching and learning from her students still excites her and it keeps her young. Her students give her hope for future.

“Aside from being a loyal friend, devoted mother and grandmother, Violet’s contributions to Wantagh High are immeasurable,” said another fellow English teacher Mrs. Magnuson. “Violet has a special ability to make her kids feel bright and capable and think beyond the obvious. Time spent in her room is where the evolution of their best selves emerge – through literature and class discussion she will take an insular thinker and help him become a world citizen; in that regard, she has given a great gift to all of us.”

Mrs. Turner will also miss her great friends on the faculty who have been there with her through everything important in her life, from celebrating her children’s weddings to supporting her after the passing of her husband, Jed.

“Her sweet, cooperative nature has made Mrs. Turner a popular teacher who students feel comfortable with,” says Wantagh High School Principal Mrs. Breivogel. “She will certainly be missed.”