Steven Turner recognized for commitment to psychology education

Steven Turner, MEd, a psychology teacher at Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been named a winner of the 2018 APA TOPSS Charles T. Blair-Broeker Excellence in Teaching Award by the American Psychological Association’s Committee of Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools.

“Steve is unique because he can connect any psychological topic and relate it to a student with ease,” said Maria Vita, chair of APA’s TOPSS Committee. “He takes complex research and makes it applicable to students’ personal lives.”

For example, according to Vita, Turner helped one student apply the concept of framing to organ donations. If a person was asked to check “no” to confirm he or she did not want to donate an organ, instead of having to choose to be an organ donor, the likelihood of donors increased.  This is just one example of how psychological concepts apply to real-life situations to benefit society.  

Albemarle County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Matthew S. Haas, EdD, has a personal connection to Turner – his son is a former student and considered Turner his favorite teacher.

“It is clear to me that Steve promotes critical thinking and problem solving while stretching students to both think beyond and understand themselves,” said Haas. “Steve captures student attention in every class and helps them relate each topic to their daily life.”

Students agree that Turner keeps them thinking about psychology lessons well after the school bell rings.

“I left Advanced Placement Psychology in May with a 5 on the AP exam and a billion more questions than I had started with,” said Peyton Rieger, a junior at Albemarle High School. “To me, that is what makes Mr. Turner a fantastic teacher.”

Turner credits his leadership role in Virginia psychology education as one of his proudest achievements. He formed the Virginia Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools regional network in 2013, which built a relationship with the James Madison University psychology department. Additionally, Turner has worked on a national level as a member-at-large of the APA TOPSS Committee and a working group co-leader at the APA Summit on High School Psychology, held last summer in Ogden, Utah. 

He says the best part of his job is making a difference in his student’s lives. “I enjoy helping other people reach their full potential in life,” said Turner. “Sometimes I feel like helping people is in my DNA.”

Turner will receive a framed certificate, an engraved award, $500 and a complimentary TOPSS membership renewal for 2019. Additionally, Worth Publishers is providing him with a $500 credit to Bedford, Freeman & Worth Publishers and a copy of the High School Psychology Video Anthology DVD.

The award is named for retired psychology teacher Charles T. Blair-Broeker, MAT, who taught for 39 years at Cedar Falls High School in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

In 2017-2018, TOPSS marks its 25th anniversary as the voice of high school psychology teachers within APA. Through APA’s Education Directorate, TOPSS offers teaching materials, professional development, the Psychology Teacher Network quarterly newsletter and programs for high school psychology teachers and students. There are approximately 2,000 APA high school teacher affiliates in APA. Psychology continues to be a popular high school course, with more than 300,000 students taking the AP psychology exam in 2017, an increase of more than 9,000 over the previous year.  In 2017 there were also more than 20,000 students worldwide who took the International Baccalaureate (IB) psychology exam.  On-level and other psychology courses are also taught at the high school level.   

TOPSS’s mission is to promote the highest standards in the teaching of psychology as a science and discipline; promote professional development and other means for lifelong learning for high school teachers of psychology; facilitate networking among teachers from all teaching levels of psychology; encourage recruitment and retention of students in the field of psychology; enhance the visibility and legitimacy of high school psychology; and recommend the appropriate advocacy, education policy and certification issues that impact the quality or visibility of teaching of high school psychology. Learn more about TOPSS here and on its Facebook page.