The Texas School Public Relations Association has named Jeffrey Turner, superintendent for Coppell ISD, as the recipient of the association's 2013 Key Communicator Award. Turner receives the award in recognition of his significant contributions to the public's understanding of public education in Texas through effective communications. Turner has been a leader not only within his district but throughout the state in identifying and articulating ways public schools can adapt and advance to better prepare students for the 21st century world.
Turner will receive his award, sponsored by SchoolMessenger, from TSPRA President Patti Pawlik-Perales at the 2013 Texas Association of School Administrators/Texas Association of School Boards Convention, to be held in Dallas from Sept. 27-29 Turner is a graduate of Deer Park High School and is an inductee into the Felton F. Waggoner Hall of Honor.
"TSPRA is proud to present Dr. Jeff Turner with our most prestigious honor, the Key Communicator Award," said Pawlik-Perales. "His dedication and willingness to take on leadership roles on a variety of educational issues encapsulates what our association looks for in a Key Communicator."
During his 12 years as the superintendent at Coppell, Turner has consistently been at the forefront of debates on some of the state's most pressing educational issues. As the 2012-2013 president of the Texas Association of School Administrators, Turner worked with members of the Texas Legislature and other interest groups throughout the 83rd Legislative Session to present or testify on several of the largest education initiatives, including House Bill 5, which reduced the number of high-stakes, end of course tests Texas high school students had to take before graduating.
In the spring of 2012, Turner wrote a letter to Governor Rick Perry calling for a reduction in high-stakes testing. He and the members of the North Texas Regional Consortium, a collaboration between nine districts he helped found, authored a resolution questioning the state's reliance on such examinations that garnered statewide support and led to the adoption of similar resolutions by hundreds of local school boards, parent-teacher associations and similar regional organizations.
"Jeff Turner has played an integral part in developing successful education programs within Coppell ISD and around the state as a leader in his profession, a visionary for the future of our students and an advocate for public education," said State Representative Bennett Ratliff in his recommendation letter for Turner.
In 2006, Turner served as the chair of the design team of the Visioning Institute: a group of approximately 30 superintendents representing districts throughout the state focused on developing a new model for public education centered on 21st century learning. The Texas Legislature used the work of the Visioning Institute to create the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium in 2011, charging the group with improving student learning in the state by developing innovative high-priority learning standards and assessment and accountability systems. Turner serves as co-chair of the consortium.
"Dr. Turner has taken a large-scale view of where education is and where it needs to go in the future to meet the needs of students," said Anthony Hill, President of Coppell ISD's Board of Trustees.
Turner has served as a superintendent in Texas since 1991, leading districts in Burleson, Jacksonville and Van prior to being named to the post at Coppell. He was selected as the Texas nominee for AASA's National Superintendent of the Year award for 2012 and has been named an "educational change agent" by Baylor University.
"This grassroots support and the ongoing work of the consortium, the regional consortia, and school and community leaders throughout the state have redirected the conversation about public education toward Texas schools being transformed into places of learning where students are fully engaged and there is an emphasis on high-priority learning standards and greater community involvement," said TASA executive director Johnny Veselka in his recommendation letter. "Dr. Turner's visionary leadership, passionate commitment, and guidance have enabled this work to endure."
Since 1981, TSPRA has recognized a Key Communicator for outstanding contributions to public education through effective communications. The recipient may be a legislator, educator, or a professional in another field who has improved school communications, or a member of TSPRA who has contributed outstanding service to the profession of school communications. Recipients have included leaders from business, media, PTA, politics and education. A complete list of past recipients can be found on TSPRA's website at www.tspra.org/awards/key-communicator/list-of-key-communicators.