Heading to Direct U of C’s Centre for Wellbeing in Education.
How would you define the start of a position if it began with – start counting – a pandemic, a 100-year-flood, and two major provincial launches, which sends everyone to the drawing board? That is how Jennifer Turner’s tenure as our Superintendent began in March 2020.
But, being the incredible leader she is, she saw the Fort McMurray Public School Division (FMPSD) through all of this, and still is as she completes her last month – ending two years with us this December. She is heading to the University of Calgary to join Werklund School of Education as the Director for the Centre for Wellbeing in Education. We caught up with her to reminisce.
What do you think has been your biggest contribution to FMPSD?
“I arrived only nine days ahead of two significant crises for the people of Fort McMurray and for our FMPSD staff and students; the 2020 flood and the global COVID-19 pandemic. These natural disasters coincided with the launch of a new provincial funding framework and a new provincial assurance framework. The role of Superintendent is demanding at any time, however, these four major events had a significant impact. These pressures came only a few brief years after the 2016 Horse River wildfire. I believe that my biggest contribution to FMPSD has been to chart a path forward for the system through these events,” recalled Superintendent Turner.
“Although I could not remove the external pressures upon the system, I worked alongside our Board, Division and school leaders to navigate through these substantial demands. We continue to have support in place for fire and flood recovery, have continued to react and respond to the ongoing pandemic, and have successfully met the obligations of the new funding and assurance framework while placing the health, safety, and security of our students and staff at the very heart of each choice. I am very proud of our team and I am grateful to have been part of this journey.”
What will you miss the most about FMPSD and McMurray?
“The people. Being a witness to and a supporter of the extraordinary programming that FMPSD offers to children and youth. Our staff, students and families continue to inspire and amaze me everyday. The cultural and linguistic diversity within our staff and community, learning alongside individuals from across the globe.The community partners that I have met while sitting as Director on two local boards – The Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo and the Wood Buffalo Community Foundation Grant Committee. There are too many to list.”
Any other thoughts?
“It has been a privilege to serve as the Superintendent of Fort McMurray Public Schools. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Board of Trustees for the opportunity to serve in this role. I have loved working alongside my senior leadership team and truly appreciate FMPSD school leaders, classroom teachers, support staff, operations, maintenance, custodial, transportation, finance, and technology staff as well as all members of the school system. FMPSD’s motto is Doing What’s Best for Kids, and I have been witness to practice that is in the best interest of our students each and every day. Thank you.”
How do you define Jennifer? Leading with heart and mind, with integrity, passion, and relationship-building – Jennifer Turner is what every human aspires to be. She will be missed beyond anything words can capture – in any language.
Thank you for everything, Jennifer! You’ll be missed.
- Superintendent Jennifer Turner’s farewell party at Division Office was a lovely and emotional event. Photos supplied
About the author
Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.