Summit Spotlight: Meet Jane Turner, Executive Director of Children’s Museum of Atlanta

On July 20, Westside Future Fund held its 13th #TransformWestsideSummit of the year. In attendance was Jane Turner, executive director of Children’s Museum of Atlanta.

Children’s Museum of Atlanta is the only educational venue of its kind in Atlanta, presenting educational programs and exhibits designed for young children up to age 8. The museum features bright, creative, hands-on exhibits designed to promote inventive problem solving, creative thinking and artistic expression.

Check out our Q&A with Jane below to learn more about CMA’s plans to support the Westside community and how she sees the Summit helping her achieve her goal.

What was your biggest takeaway from the July 20 Summit? This was the first time that I attended the Summit. I was overwhelmed with the number of people and organizations represented and the deep sense of community that I felt.

  • Two important takeaways:
    • Appreciation for the amazing residents that comprise this historic and special community and for the great work that so many are focused on to improve the quality
      of life.
    • Opportunity to deepen our understanding of the Historic Westside and the potential for meaningful and positive partnerships.
Jane during self-introductions at the July 20 Summit.

What is your affiliation with the Historic Westside of Atlanta? Are you a resident of the Westside?

My affiliation with the Historic Westside has evolved through my work with the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. CMA’s mission – “to change the world by sparking every child’s imagination, sense of discovery and learning through the power of play” – has guided us to extend programs beyond the physical walls of the Museum in order to reach all children and families wherever and however we can.

We have had the honor of working in the Historic Westside over the past eight years – first in schools and childcare centers, and then with families over the past three years as part of a vocabulary-building program called Spread-the-Word.

Why is the revitalization of the Westside important to you? At CMA, we understand that the early years of childhood are the most important in establishing a foundation for success in work and in life. They are a precious window in time that makes all the difference, and a child’s environment of family, school, church, and neighborhood form a fabric of support that can nurture the best possible outcomes. We view the Westside as our nearby neighbors and seek to support the health and wellbeing of its residents as much as we can.

Photo by Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography. Jane is pictured at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta.

What are you doing for the Historic Westside, and what is your role in improving life for residents on the Westside?

CMA works with the schools, childcare centers, and families to bring robust programs to the Historic Westside. Our educators visit the neighborhood at least twice a month to bring the spark of learning through play to life. Because we are focused on developing the “whole child,” the topics we address are many and varied – including vocabulary development and literacy, health and fitness, science, and the arts.

Our programs take place in schools, community centers, churches and parks – and our work impacts teachers, parents, and, of course, young children. We have brought enriching arts and STEM residencies to the elementary schools as well as fun family field trips to CMA and other cultural institutions. Early Childhood Educators and teachers in the community have attended free trainings at the museum. Our work with families, children and educators is based on their feedback and desires for growth in the community.

How do you feel the Summits can help you in your role? A large part of the success and growth of our neighborhood outreach programs can be directly attributed to the partnerships and open communications with the leadership, teachers and families we seek to serve. The Summit is a fantastic way for us to learn all that is happening in the Historic Westside and to share what CMA can contribute to its success. The opportunity to learn, to expand our network and partnerships is fantastic.

What is your hope for the Historic Westside? My hope for Historic Westside is to see it be a thriving community that maintains its important and deep historic roots, while welcoming new development and businesses to feed that growth.

Click here to learn more about Children’s Museum of Atlanta and its initiatives.