'People person' enjoys interaction on her job

August 02, 2004|HERB BROCK

The Danville school district's 1,900 students and 170 teachers have a few more days left before they return to the classroom, but for Louellen Turner, summer vacation was over long ago.

As personnel assistant/substitute coordinator for the district, Turner, along with her co-workers at the central office, has been busy getting things ready for the upcoming school year.

In her case, that has meant a variety of duties, from processing paperwork for new employees, to organizing orientation programs for the district's 70 substitute teachers and for new employees to assisting Superintendent Bob Rowland and other administrators.

"The schools may look quiet right now, but there is a lot of work being done by the central office staff to get things ready for the beginning of the new school year," said Turner, who is celebrating her 10th anniversary as a central office employee.


"Every day is different. You have one task one day and another the next," she said. "And you're always meeting new people, especially new teachers, staff and parents."

And as a self-described "people person," Turner particularly enjoys the interactions she has with both district personnel and parents - even though her encounters with parents can be tense at times.

"Occasionally a parent will come by the office upset over something involving their child. For example, they might not think their child is being treated fairly by a teacher," she said. "But after I listen to them and try to offer advice or refer them to someone who can help them, they usually calm down and things are OK. They just want someone to listen to them, to care about their problem. It's a small thing, but handling situations like that are important. I feel I've helped someone in a time of need."

While she has never had any aspirations to become a teacher or counselor or principal, Turner feels she and other "behind the scenes" office personnel play important roles in the education of the district's children.

"We are there to support the teachers, principals, administrators and other staff," said the 1975 Danville High School graduate. "If we do our jobs well, the people we support, the educators and administrators and everyone else directly involved with the kids can do their jobs well. So I really feel a part of the education process."

Helping the community, too

In the Danville district, that process does not just involve educating children. Turner said it also includes helping the community where the children live.

"In putting together the orientation programs, I include a section devoted to community service," she said. "We emphasize community service in the Danville schools, for our faculty, staff and even students. We take pride in seeing so many of our people involved in numerous community organizations and projects, from the Heart of Kentucky United Way to blood drives to the Cystic Fibrosis Walk to the Relay for Life.

"We also have established a program to honor veterans in the community who have served in wars," said Turner. While she said all the community organizations that involve Danville district employees and students are worthwhile, the Relay for Life that raises money to fight cancer, is particularly dear to Turner.

"I've had family friends die from cancer, including an aunt I was especially close to," she said. "I want to do what I can to find a cure and, in the meantime, support people who suffer from it."

Turner said she has benefitted from the battle against cancer. She has a digestive track condition that mimicks cancer. Because of the similarily of her condition and cancer, she qualified to have a special stimulator device placed in her stomach that was funded by the American Cancer Society.

She and her husband, Terry, a Dana employee, have raised their two children, Kevin, 26, a floor manager at a Somerset car dealership, and Erica, 24, a nurse at James B. Haggin Memorial Hospital in Harrodsburg. But the couple's Cream Ridge house is hardly quiet, what with all the canning that Louellen Turner does.

"I love to garden, and I also love to bring many of the vegetables we grow to my co-workers and friends," said Turner.

At Mount Freeman Baptist Church in Junction City, she serves as director of Bible study, Sunday school teacher and newsletter editor.

"Whether it's at work or church, I'm constantly working with people. And I wouldn't have it any other way," she said.

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