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Member of Class of 2000 now assistant principal at FCMS
Turonne Hunt points to herself in a 1988 photograph of the original members of the Martinsville Bulletin’s Class of 2000. The students were chosen from the kindergartners at Figsboro Elementary School, and their progress was followed in the Bulletin until they graduated from high school in 2000. Now, Hunt is an assistant principal at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Twenty-five years ago she started kindergarten at Figsboro Elementary School, and the progress of she and her classmates was followed for 12 years in the Martinsville Bulletin’s continuing coverage of the Class of 2000.
Now, when school opens Monday, Hunt will be an assistant principal at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School, fulfilling her dream of giving back to the Henry County School System that fostered her love of education.
Her goal, she said, is to help other students find their passion for education as well.
From being a student to now an administrator in the county schools, Hunt has seen many changes in the educational system. Technology tops the list.
When she was growing up, she never imagined the technological advances that have been made in the schools. But Hunt did picture an educational system similar to what is in place today, she said. Education “must change as society changes” to be able to reach each new generation of learners, she added.
When Hunt began kindergarten in 1988, there were no computers in the classroom. She didn’t see one in a classroom until she entered the sixth grade at Carver Middle School, she said.
She remembers being so excited to type and play games on the computers. “We thought we were doing something” by getting to use them, she said with a laugh.
Today, students “are never going to know a classroom without” technology, Hunt said. It “is a really big part of how we educate our children today.”
When she was in elementary school, she remembers only direct instruction in which the students learned material straight from the teachers and the textbooks.
But students today were born into the world of technology. As a result, teachers can use it to “open up a whole new world” to, for instance, take virtual field trips online that make the textbooks come alive, Hunt said.
When Hunt reached Fieldale-Collinsville High School, she recognized a transition away from direct instruction.
In high school, instruction became more hands-on and technology was incorporated further by holding video conferences in the classroom with other schools, she said.
Also, there was a push for more cooperative learning, such as team projects, she added.
Now, there are team projects, interactive teaching with hands-on projects and the students leading class discussions in all grade levels, Hunt said.
Since graduating from F-C in 2000, Hunt has noticed even more changes. They include:
• Standards are higher and students are learning different skills earlier. For example, students in kindergarten now learn fractions, which she didn’t learn until the second grade, Hunt said.
• Differentiated instruction, in which teachers use various methods of instruction to best fit the learning style of each student, is more of a focus today. When she was in school, all students were taught the same way, she said.
• There is more real-life application now in which teachers apply lessons to everyday life situations so that the students can relate to what they are learning, she said.
• There is more student engagement through active listening and participation, she said.
Hunt feels that one thing that has not changed is the goal of Henry County Schools to make students college and career ready. Only the way that students are reached has changed, she said.
The school system’s goal was not lost on Hunt when she was growing up. She told the Bulletin in 2000, shortly before she graduated from high school, that around the eighth grade she became aware of a greater effort on her part toward being a good student.
Reflecting on what she would say to graduates 20 years in the future, Hunt said she would advise them to “live for themselves and not others.”
Hunt went on to graduate from Radford University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and in 2011, she received a master’s degree in educational leadership, administration and supervision from Radford.
In 2005, she became a special education teacher in the Transitional Day Program for Henry County Schools, and she stayed in that position for seven years. Last school year, she was an administrative intern at Axton Elementary School.
She is excited about her new role in administration because it has always been a dream of hers, she said.
When she first graduated from college, she had offers to teach at other schools, but she chose to work in Henry County so she could give back to the school system that “helped me find my love for education and find what my passion was going to be in life,” Hunt said.