Sampson Independent

Butler principal earns top honors

Robert Turlington began his career in education late in life, but he has enjoyed every second of the last 14 years he has spent molding the minds of young students. Surrounded by his staff and peers, the Butler Avenue School principal received the top honor Tuesday morning as the Clinton City School’s Principal of the Year.

“I don’t have any pearls of wisdom, but I read where our coach said you should work hard everyday to get one percent better,” Turlington said after being given the honor. “This is the game of life, and sitting on the 50-yard line isn’t good enough for me. I came to play.”

Turlington, a native of Clinton, began his journey in the educational field in 2004 as a math teacher for Sampson County Schools. After receiving his bachelor of science in business administration from Western Carolina University, he worked in the business sector until he began teaching.

For the next three years, Turlington not only taught math, but wrote grants, coached soccer, sponsored clubs and wrote, directed and produced the Sampson County Schools Teacher Recruitment Video. In 2007, he became the media coordinator for Union Middle School and continued serving in other capacities as technology representative, grant writer, club sponsor, committee chair and the created and director of the digital yearbook.

In 2012, Turlington returned to Dark Horse country when he joined Clinton High School as a math teacher. While furthering his education, he worked at became the assistant principal in 2013 and was named Butler Avenue’s principal in 2016.

“My philosophy on education is simple, ‘Make every day an opportunity to learn and be better than the day before,’” Turlington noted during an interview in 2016, when he was hired as principal. “I enjoy being a part of the success and growth of our children. To be an active participant in the development of young people from child to a productive citizen is most rewarding.”

Clinton City Schools interim superintendent Dr. Stewart Hobbs Jr. said it was a privilege to bestow the top honors on Turlington, who was selected based on his years of experience as an educator and growth in the school’s overall performance and achievements.

Hobbs made the announcement Tuesday morning at the opening ceremony for staff and faculty returning back to school. Turlington was the only person who received words of encouragement.

“I would encourage each and every staff member to not focus on the negative, but to focus on educating our students,” Dr. Linda Brunson, board chairwoman, said. “The time is now for you to start building relationships with your colleagues.”

Hobbs spoke on the importance of all staff to be a “HORSE” and work to make Clinton City Schools the best it can be. As a HORSE, Hobbs said teachers should be the “hero”, provide “opportunities”, build “relationships”, make the focus “student centered”, and form “expectations”.

Clinton City Schools Principal of the Year Robert Turlington and his wife, Lisa, during the awards ceremony Tuesday morning. City Schools Principal of the Year Robert Turlington and his wife, Lisa, during the awards ceremony Tuesday morning. Kristy D. Carter|Sampson Independent
Turlington Kristy D. Carter|Sampson Independent

By Kristy D. Carter

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.