Tulare educator's music and classroom skills are a hit with students
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Gospel Whiskey Runners is a South Valley band with a growing number of fans. Ryan Turner plays the melodica and the mandolin. Some of his fans are a bit younger.
That is because he is a popular English teacher at Cherry Avenue Middle School in Tulare. When students walk on the grounds they gravitate toward him. Although kids think its cool his band is on iTunes, it's not the music that draws them in.
"I don't get tired in that class, I'm always attracted to what he's teaching," 13-year-old student Jayden Cain said.
"Them as people are more important to me than them as academics," Turner said.
Turner takes an interest in students as individuals which goes a long way in establishing trust.
"Kids they don't really care how much you know until they know how much you care," Cherry Avenue Middle School Principal Greg Anderson said.
Turner attended the same school where he currently teaches when he was a kid. He knows Junior High can be an awkward stage.
"Growing up being insecure just feeling like you weren't okay with who you are or you weren't sure who you were for someone to come alongside you and love you in spite of that or love you through that that' I think is what makes the difference," Turner said.
He's constantly moving, cracking jokes and making connections at the same time.
"Not a lot of teachers I'd say can teach like up in front of the board the whole class like he's constantly going around asking people what they think about the topic or writing something on the board about it like he's hardly teaching from his desk so I think that's cool," 13-year-old student Caleb Gomes said.
Turner helps kids understand literature at a deeper level.
"Every time I read a book now I think about it a bunch of different ways I hadn't before cause all the diff. Books in class he has us pointing out like the way characters develop and how that changes the story, climax and all that kind of stuff so," Gomes said.
When he isn't teaching English or helping kids improve their grades in study skills class, he performs in community theatre and works on his music, building and maintaining relationships the whole time.
"And in those moments of performing you get to create moments for other people to relate with people they get to come out and hang out or watch you play or watch you be on stage and have a moment with someone else," Turner said.
Teacher, performer and mentor, Ryan Turner hopes he'll leave a lasting impression just like his former teachers left on him.
"Someday when I look back at what I do or what I've done I will hope that somebody would say the same thing that they know they were cared about and cared for by me," Turner said.
You can get to know a few more Valley educators like Ryan Turner this weekend. abc30 will air a half-hour special, Children First: Terrific Teachers on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
tulare, tulare county, south valley, local, liz harrison
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