OCENET Champion: Carolyn Turner

OCENET Champion: Carolyn Turner, Student Services, Gloucester High School
Posted on 01/17/2023

Carolyn Turner, Student Services, Gloucester HS

Starting in this issue, Global Connections will highlight individuals who have been key in supporting OCENET international students.

What are some of your roles with the international students?

My main roles include welcoming our international students to Gloucester HS, orientation, arranging class timetables, and liaising with Homestay. In addition, I work with international students on next steps, such as post-secondary plans and scholarships if they choose to continue studying in Canada. In short, I fulfill the many roles of a guidance counsellor including addressing mental health issues when they arise.

How long have you worked with international students?

I have worked as the main contact between Gloucester HS and OCENET for the past 12 years. Since I started Gloucester’s number of international students has grown from 25 students to 160 just prior to Covid, including many short-term and one semester students. Currently there are 67 international students at Gloucester. Over the years I have seen many changes in the growth of the international student programs, including the accommodation of several transgender students.

What are some of the reasons you decided to become involved as a lead support person and advocate for international students?

I joined the staff at Gloucester as an ESL teacher in 1997 and had international students in my ESL classes, and this experience motivated me to become more involved with the international students. In my view and that of the Gloucester staff and students, the international students add so much to the culture of the school in terms of the different perspectives people from other countries bring and the enduring friendships that evolve....everyone benefits with the presence of the international students.

What are some of the initiatives that your school has taken to serve international students?

We have many ways of supporting the international students at Gloucester, but one of the key initiatives has been the increasing involvement of the international Certificate Program (ICP) students who are of great assistance in providing peer support. One recent initiative has been the creation of an International Friendship Club which meets every Friday to play games and offer social connections.

International students held a farewell party for Ms. Turner (front row center) in the Student Services offices at Gloucester HS

Which aspects of your work with the international students do you find most rewarding?

It is rewarding to see the international students grow and succeed and that I have had a role in their progress. Many students arrive with limited English language skills and make significant improvements. Graduation is always very special. At Gloucester, we strongly encourage international students to get involved in extra-curricular activities such as sports and drama. The international students who get involved seem to be the most fulfilled and happy and tend to make strong friendships amongst themselves and Canadian students.

What has been the impact of your work with the international students upon you and what have you learned from them?

I’ve learned so much from international students. Most of all, I have learned the value of risk-taking since every one of the international students has taken a big risk in choosing to come to a foreign country where everything is different, including language and culture in many cases.

What is next for you?

I have recently accepted a secondment with DND and will be serving as a Guidance Counsellor for the children of armed services personnel who are posted internationally. It’s sort of a twist on what I have been doing here at Gloucester HS except that the Canadian students will be becoming the “international students” where their families are posted. I will greatly miss the international students at Gloucester and working with staff at OCENET.

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