Turnwall to receive award from state colleagues

Barbara Turnwall, assistant professor of English at Northwestern College, will be honored by the Iowa Council of Teachers of English (ICTE) at its fall conference in Johnston on Oct. 2. She will receive the Distinguished Service Award, which is given annually to an individual who is an instructional leader, an advocate for English language arts teaching and learning, and active in professional development and service.

A member of Northwestern’s English faculty since 1966, Turnwall has served as an advisory board and steering committee member for the Iowa Writing Project (IWP). She has also directed numerous IWP workshops and given presentations at meetings of the ICTE, National Council of Teachers of English, and Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

In collaboration with the Iowa Writing Project, Turnwall began Northwestern’s Pedagogy Project in 2000. Through the program, more than 70 Northwestern professors have come together for a year of focused study to reflect on and discuss their teaching practice and to experiment with new strategies in their classrooms. The program has spawned Pedagogy Project II, which engages faculty members in a yearlong focus on integrating writing more effectively into the learning process.

One of Turnwall’s latest ventures has been directing the Hispanic Story Project, which has gathered, translated and published stories of northwest Iowa’s Hispanic immigrants. Some of the stories have been published bilingually by IWP and provided to area teachers for a variety of uses, including curriculum materials and sensitivity training.

Donna Niday, executive director of ICTE, nominated Turnwall for the award. “Perhaps greater than all of her named accomplishments,” says Niday, “is Barb’s enthusiasm for teaching and learning. She embraces the challenges of the classroom energetically and joyously and goes beyond talking by acting upon her beliefs to provide faculty professional development.”

Deborah Menning, instructor in English at Northwestern, also nominated Turnwall. “As a model teacher herself, she inspires English majors to consider how and why they learn, how and why they will teach. She also models concern for and affirmation of each individual learner/educator,” says Menning. “Barb loves and esteems each student. She spends countless hours going above and beyond.”

Last year’s ICTE Distinguished Service Award recipient, Anne Weir, an English teacher at WACO High School in Wayland, describes Turnwall as “a very humble, unassuming person who brings a tremendous amount of energy and grace to her work. If you ask her to do something, of course she’ll do it. She’s willing to assume leadership positions, willing to take on responsibility and do the work,” says Weir, who is co-director of the Iowa Writing Project and a member of the ICTE steering committee.

Turnwall says she is humbled by the award. “I share this honor with the many friends and colleagues over the years who have provided me opportunities, inspiration and encouragement.”

Turnwall, who was honored by the Iowa Writing Project as a recipient of the Star Thrower Award in 2008 and by the ICTE as a recipient of a Literacy Award in 1999, served as chair of Northwestern’s English department for nine years. She earned a master’s degree from SUNY-Albany and a bachelor’s degree from Hope College.