Dr. Jesse Turner, who has served as the principal of two of the division’s high schools, is returning to Albemarle County Public Schools as its division-wide Director of Student Services, effective July 1.
Turner will be leading the planning, design and implementation of programs that support student learning, the social and emotional wellness of students, and school security and emergency preparedness. His portfolio encompasses oversight of the division’s new student safety coach program; implementation of the division’s anti-racism policy as it impacts students, which includes greater awareness and use of an anonymous online reporting system; expansion of a highly successful program alternative to out-of-school suspensions; school security reviews; crisis planning; and community outreach.
In his funding request message to the School Board earlier this year, Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas said the new student safety coach program will be focused on identifying and using best practices for student, employee, and school visitor safety. Among its benefits, he said, will be improvements in school climate, student attendance, and relationships with students.
“Students learning at their highest potential begins with feeling safe in school, having confidence in relationships with other students and adults, and looking forward to being in class every day,” said Debora Collins, the division’s Deputy Superintendent.
“We have no greater responsibility than to make this true for all students in our care. I remember the day I first hired Dr. Turner as a teaching assistant as he began his career in education. I was impressed then and am impressed today with his dedication to one principle above all others—it’s always all about the children,” Collins added.
Turner began his administrative career in the division as an assistant principal at Sutherland Middle School in 2003 and moved to its largest high school, Albemarle, as an assistant principal in 2005. He became the principal of Monticello High School in 2012. During his leadership, Monticello earned the National School Boards Association’s prestigious Magna Award for academic innovation and excellence. He made his relationships with students a high priority, including hosting “Turner Time,” a highly popular weekly television interview show featuring students. Among the school’s other signature achievements while Turner was principal was a 100% on-time graduation rate for Black students. In 2017, Turner was appointed principal of Albemarle High School, the division’s largest school. He relocated in 2019 to the Charlottesville City school division as principal of Buford Middle School.
“Having grown up in Charlottesville, being able to return to the city had special meaning for me,” Turner said. “I am so proud of the Buford community, parents, staff and children for the progress we’ve made.”
Earlier this year, when Dr. Nicholas King, the division’s prior Director of Student Services, returned to his home state of North Carolina to accept another administrative position, Turner said the opportunity to serve children and families on an even broader scale in the county became very appealing.
“Hard to resist,” he said. “I became an educator because I deeply believe we have a collective responsibility to help our young people succeed. That’s why I am in this profession. I know firsthand how high a priority this is for all the educators with Albemarle County Public Schools and I am excited about the great things we can do together,” Turner said.
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Strategic Communications Officer