Turner surprised with state award

Bowler principal touts importance of reading
By: 

WADE TURNER

Editor’s note: Wolf River Media recently chatted with Wade Turner, principal of Bowler Elementary School. At a school assembly Jan. 9, he was given the Outstanding Administrator Award from the Wisconsin State Reading Association. Turner was nominated for the award by fifth/sixth-grade teacher Jody Siahaan and the Wolf River Reading Council.

Q: What is your title, and how long have you been with the Bowler School District?

A: I am the Bowler elementary principal. This is my fifth year as principal, 18th year in the district. I have taught first, second, third and fifth grades. I’m also summer school principal for the district, five years as well.

Q: What is your career history and educational background?

A: I was a journalist for seven years after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a Bachelor of Science degree. My major was in communication, and I minored in writing and business administration. I went back to school to get my teaching certification for grades K-6 from UW-Milwaukee. I have been at Bowler since 2000. This was my first full-time job in teaching. I received my master’s degree in reading licensure from UW-Stevens Point. I received my administrative licensure from Viterbo University in La Crosse.

Q: Did you know you had been nominated for the Outstanding Administrator Award?

A: I had no idea that I was nominated or received the award. I thought we were having an assembly for our reading incentive program, which is through the Green Bay Bullfrogs. So I gave the announcement for the assembly to begin, not realizing it was actually for me.

Q: What does the award mean to you?

A: It means a lot to me because it ultimately originated from the staff, and I realize that I am only as good as our pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade staff. I am fortunate to have a caring, conscientious and hard-working staff. I am here to support them so our students can be successful. I feel fortunate to be in the education business so I can make a difference in students’ lives on a daily basis, and I always try to be positive and show the students that I care.

Q: Why are you a member of the Wisconsin State Reading Association?

A: Being a member of the Wisconsin State Reading Association allows you to have access to the latest reading trends and strategies and what the successful teachers are doing around the state, which sets them apart. Reading is the backbone to all instruction, and any insight I can parlay to teachers is a benefit to everyone. I am always encouraging teachers to try new things in the classroom and not worrying about failing, since that is the only way to ultimately succeed.

Q: What is your connection with the Wolf River Reading Council?

A: The Wolf River Reading Council is a good way to network with neighboring schools and see what they are doing to help improve their students’ reading skills and, ultimately, improving our standardized testing results. In fact this past year, our elementary school improved its score quite significantly from a year ago. The council also brings in top-notch presenters to its monthly meetings where teachers have definite takeaways that they can use in their classrooms even on the following day.

Q: What is your philosophy regarding reading?

A: My philosophy regarding reading is you ultimately must get the students interested in reading. This is especially true for those struggling readers, who often need high-interest books to get them hooked, and then hopefully their reading will flourish. Instruction must also be a balance of teaching fluency, primarily in the younger grades, and then complement that with comprehension skills as they get older. If a student has to focus too much on fluency, he/she loses the accompanying comprehension of the story. That is why teaching the basic phonics skills at the younger level is so critical. Also, if students feel confident in reading, they should do well in all subject areas as well, like math and the social sciences. In conjunction with reading instruction, writing must also be embedded into the curriculum since so much of schoolwork is tied into quality writing. Reading is the backbone of education, and we have a huge responsibility as educators to make sure students are successful in reading, which hopefully parlays into success outside of school as well.

Q: What genres do you prefer to read for leisure?

A: I’ve always loved to read. But having a journalism background, I like reading nonfiction books. So I read many biographies, autobiographies and real-life stories or documentaries. Being an avid sports fan, I enjoy reading sports-related books and can spend several hours browsing through a Barnes & Noble bookstore. And, of course, since I used to write for a newspaper, I enjoy reading the daily news and especially like reading feature stories on people who make a difference in the community.