A recently completed $8.2 million expansion and complete renovation will grow enrollment and increase community services.

Turner Hall Funded from state general obligation bonds, 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 Dr. Alma W. Turner (Ed.S. ’81).

“We are celebrating the legacy of the Demonstration School and the present and future of Turner Hall. This building nurtured so many in our community and holds a special place in the hearts of its former students, faculty and leaders. Now named in honor of Dr. Alma Turner, Turner Hall will continue to play a key role in educating and training our students for one of the top-demand occupations while providing service to those in our community,” said W President Nora Miller.

Turner Hall hosts three classrooms with distance learning capabilities with the largest able to hold approximately 140 students. A centrally located materials room and student workroom that includes personal lockers and computers is a new addition to the department.

“Turner Hall means new possibilities. This new space will allow us to expand the variety of services we can offer to the community. The larger class sizes will allow us to grow our undergraduate and graduate programs. This, in turn, will help build the capacity of highly qualified speech-language pathologists in the state of Mississippi,” said Dr. Kathy Shapley, chair of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology.

The Speech and Hearing Center served almost 1,000 clients and provided more than 6,500 hours of speech, language and hearing services to the Golden Triangle community in 2019.

With the relocation to Turner Hall, the Speech and Hearing Center will better serve community members of all ages.

A new preschool-focused area will allow the center to provide clients, parents and families opportunities that will further the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. An in-house audiologist will focus on cochlear implant mapping while simultaneously offering hearing aid fittings and free hearing screenings to the Golden Triangle region. Shapley plans to expand the center’s services by offering treatment for fluency disorders, Parkinson’s, post-stroke clients and social skills coaching to teens with autism.

Shapley said, “Turner Hall will allow us to continue the long history the Speech and Hearing Center has had on impacting the lives of individuals and families in this community and surrounding areas. We have a strong legacy to uphold, and Turner Hall will provide us with additional resources to build this capacity to serve the community.”

Turner Hall features 100% LED lighting throughout the building, high-efficiency HVAC systems and a building automation system to monitor energy efficiency and control HVAC systems. The building has motion sensors for lighting as well as sensors to control power outlets when the building is unoccupied.

An advanced window film has been applied to the original windowpanes that will allow each window to perform as modern-day insulated glass windows while maintaining the historic aesthetics of the building.

PryorMorrow served as the architecture/engineering firm responsible for the design on Turner Hall while also acting as the liaison between the university and TVA to ensure all necessary documentation and calculations complied for the incentive process.

The partnership brought efficiencies that totaled more than $45,000 in incentives the university will receive from Tennessee Valley Association’s EnergyRight Solutions program. The program encourages both homeowners and businesses to make smarter energy use choices.

Situated at the intersection of 11th Street South and Fifth 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 of 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. By 1926, the school supported six grades of students. In 1929 Miss Fant’s brother, John C. Fant, then-president of Mississippi State College for Women, decided to construct a formal instructional space for the Demonstration School.

Dr. Alma Turner

President Nora Miller with Dr. Alma Turner, looking at painting of Dr. TurnerDr. Alma Turner, who has a passion for developmental disabilities, served The W as principal of the Demonstration School from 1985-95, during which she orchestrated a comprehensive elementary learning program. Following her philosophy of providing enrichment experiences for all students, she implemented a Gifted Preschool Program, an after school hands-on science program for grades K-6 in collaboration with the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science and secured funding for a writing to read laboratory, among other accomplishments.

“Humbled, honored and at a loss of words. It is beyond my expectations,” said Turner about the renaming of the Demonstration School. “I hope that the people of the community will be impacted by the outstanding work that will take place behind these walls and families will benefit for years to come.”

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 the 2008 Oasis of Freedom of Justice Award. She also was presented an honorary doctorate by The W, the university’s highest honor, in 2008.