I love teaching. Many educators would agree that the most special thing about teaching is working with the students. Nothing is more rewarding than working with students and setting them up for success. I’ve been fortunate to work with some really incredible and talented students.
Jordan Turner was a part of a really special group of students that I had during the fall semester of 2010. That group’s section specifically met three times a week: every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9:10am. (I must acknowledge that these students were consistent at showing up for class, despite how tempting it was to have unplanned three-day weekends.) For fifteen weeks, my graduate assistant and I worked closely with our students. Together, we learned about all things global…
Jordan always walked into class around ten minutes before our scheduled start time. Despite not having assigned seats, he always made his way up to the front row. We are creatures of habit, but this wouldn’t stop him from being social. Jordan would spend a few moments catching up with his classmates, talking about all the things college students talk about… He had a really calm and friendly demeanor… not a surprise because he almost always walked into class with a big genuine smile on his face. This guy couldn’t be bothered!
He’d walk in with a copy of the New York Times in his hand. (I always started class with a segment I called ‘Hot Topics’, where we’d discuss current events and happenings around the world.) He made a point to tell his classmates that copies were available for free in the common areas of the dorms. Supportive of his peers, yes he was. Before class started, I spent a lot of time checking in with my students, making sure that their semester was going well for them and that our class specifically was meeting their needs. Because Jordan was seated in the front row, I naturally got to learn more about him throughout the semester. He always spoke so fondly and highly of his family. I knew that he had two older brothers that he admired so very much, and I also knew that he loved his little brothers and sisters. He had mentioned that he wish he could see them all more regularly. Throughout the semester, in conversations and discussions, it was evident that his family played an integral role in his personal development. For this course specifically, my students were assigned a comprehensive final exam project focusing on cross-cultural experiences for specific countries. I did not assign the topics, but instead left it up to my own students to choose their focus areas based on their own interests. For his final project, Jordan’s research focused on Honduras. He had mentioned previously that he had traveled there and he wanted to share with his classmates his experiences in its culture.
Jordan passed away at the end of the semester. Because the cohort had developed such great relationships with each other and with him, I felt responsible for them know about his passing. Seeing my students cry and hearing them wail in response to the news was one of the most difficult things to observe. However, with that said, it was also very clear that their paths crossing with Jordan’s was truly special. From the very beginning of the semester throughout the following fifteen weeks, Jordan left quite the impression on his classmates and me. He was an intelligent, thoughtful, and charming young man.
His family and friends created The Jordan Turner Foundation, which provides scholarships and resources for people who are committed to learning, service and athletics–core values that were important to him. Jordan was an avid runner. This past weekend on Saturday, April 27th, tens of people ran the Nashville Country Music Marathon in honor of Jordan. The foundation sent me a “Team Jordan” shirt and I was proud to honor him. He definitely inspired me to stay motivated and finish the race strongly.
All of my students are very important to me. As an educator, I am continually inspired by my students. I encourage you to take a moment to learn more about Jordan and his inspiring story at JordanTurner.org. You can also find the Foundation on Facebook.
Responding to grief and loss can be difficult. I am also a part of a committee on campus committed to providing support. Please refer to this guide for faculty and staff at MTSU.