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Packer Says Farewell to Irene Turner

Irene Turner taught at Packer for 37 years, first as a Head Teacher in Third Grade, then as a Head Teacher in First Grade.

What brought you to Packer?

I guess you can say my son brought me to Packer. Prior to my teaching here, he had been a student in Packer’s Lower School. I was impressed by his outstanding learning experience and his talented, dedicated, and caring teachers. They were clearly invested in and committed to his and his classmates’ social, emotional, and academic growth and development. I wanted to be part of such a learning environment. 

I was thrilled when Susan Hinkle, then Head of Lower School, offered me the Third Grade Head teacher position, and I have been grateful to this day.

What was it like to teach in a school that so many members of your family have attended?

In a way, Packer has been a family school for the Turner family. My sons, niece, nephew, and great-nephews have been members of the Packer community, and I have two granddaughters who are currently in Preschool and Lower School. I have always worn my “teacher’s hat” during the work day at Packer, and my family members and I understood and respected each other’s boundaries and privacy. Rarely, if ever, did they come to my classroom or I to theirs. Nowadays, however, on occasion, my granddaughters and I give each other hugs or blow kisses when we meet in the hallways.

Describe a favorite or memorable moment in your classroom at Packer.

I have many favorite moments at Packer, from family graduations, to Dutch School Day, to Chinese banquets. Once, a Third Grader secretly set up a “Have a Heart” trap in our classroom. It trapped a mouse, which Jimmy Dolan, Director of Facilities promised to “set free on Livingston Street.”

Another memorable moment was when writer Paul Auster visited our Third Grade class, of which his son was a member, to talk about writing with our students and answer their questions. It was magical to witness an author of adult fiction have a conversation about writing and his writing life with our young writers.

What will you miss most about Packer?

I will certainly miss my colleagues and friends. It has been a joy to grow and learn with such inspiring, caring, supportive, committed, and fun people every single day. 

But most of all, I will miss “my kids.” I have to say that I was always more than happy when June rolled around and school ended. But I was also thrilled and full of great anticipation each year when Labor Day approached, because I knew with the start of school, I would have a new group of enthusiastic, curious, empathetic, resilient, silly, and maybe even sassy students, who would be eager to explore who they are as learners and individuals.

If you would like to submit well-wishes to Irene, please send them to communications@packer.edu.

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