Construction is underway for the new home of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology.
This $8.2 million expansion and complete renovation, funded from state general obligation bonds, began in January 2018.
The W recommissioned the Demonstration School to support the enrollment growth in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The university’s Board of Trustees authorized the naming of the building formerly known as the Demonstration School in honor of Alma W. Turner (Ed.S. ’81).
The renamed Turner Hall will provide room for growth of the Speech-Language Pathology program, Speech and Hearing Clinic, and a large tiered classroom/auditorium that will be available not only to the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, but also for other university programming.
“The speech-language pathology undergraduate and graduate programs are extremely excited and proud as we anticipate having Turner Hall as our new physical facility. This renovated building will provide larger, state of the art classroom space for SLP academic programs,” said Joy Townsend, interim chair of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology.
“The larger spaces will allow for program growth. The MUW Speech and Hearing Center, also housed in Turner Hall, will be an updated clinical space which should be a huge benefit to student clinicians and the clients served,” she added.
Dr. Alma Turner
Turner served as principal of the Demonstration School from 1985 to 1995. She also taught at the school for 18 years, starting in 1977. During her 10 years as principal of the Demonstration School, the school consistently produced the highest test scores in the Columbus Municipal School District and she was credited with implementing many programs there.
She began teaching in 1967 in the Greenville City School District. For the next 17 years, she held elementary teaching jobs in school districts in Mississippi and in the Republic of Philippines.
Later, Turner served as the assistant superintendent for the West Point School District. In 1999, she was hired at the Institute of Community Services in Columbus, first as the parent involvement director and currently as the Golden Triangle director.
Turner has been honored for her work in education with numerous awards, such as Phi Delta Kappa Educator of the Year, Mississippi National Distinguished Principal, Administrator of the Year and most recently the 2008 Oasis of Freedom of Justice Awards. She was also presented an honorary doctorate by MUW, the university’s highest honor, in 2008.
Her community involvement includes serving on various boards, such as the Columbus Municipal School District, United Way, Greater Columbus Literacy and the MUW Foundation. She also has served on several local and national organizations in support of those with developmental disabilities.
Turner earned her Ed.S. in elementary and special education from MUW in 1981. In addition to her degree from MUW, she has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Mississippi Valley State University and a master’s degree in elementary education from Delta State University. She also has an AAA certification and hours toward a doctorate in education administration from Mississippi State University.
The Demonstration School
Situated at the intersection of 11th Street South and 5th Avenue South in historic Downtown Columbus, the Demonstration School served as Mississippi’s first laboratory school from 1930 until the school was closed in 2005.
While construction on the Demonstration School was completed in 1929, the founding of the school dates to 1907, when Annie Fant (sister of college president John C. Fant) petitioned then-president of Industrial Institute & College to create the school.
The first classes of the demonstration school were comprised of 30 kindergarten and first grade students held in a single room within Industrial Hall on the II&C campus. By 1926, the school supported six grades of students. In 1929 Miss Fant’s brother, John C. Fant, now president of Mississippi State College for Women, decided to construct a formal instructional space for the Demonstration School.
In order to cover the cost of operating the school, the Columbus school district agreed to share in the funding of the Demonstration School.
In the 1990s, the Demonstration School was placed onto the National Register of Historic Places and named as Mississippi Landmark. In 1991 the Mississippi Department of Archives and History placed a historic marker in front of the building, identifying the historical significance of the school.
At the beginning of the 21st Century, the old building began to show the wear of more than 70 years of continuous use, the school closed in 2005.
In 2015, the completion of the revised university master plan found a new use for the Demonstration School. The new plans called for the Demonstration School to be renovated and utilized for the expanding College of Nursing and Speech-Language Pathology, the halls would once again host eager students.
Phase I of renovations to Turner Hall began in January 2018 and the building is expected to be reopened in Summer 2019, the 90th anniversary of the building.