Educator Profile    Educators

Abby Turbak (SD '22)


McKinley Elementary School
Watertown, SD

Subject(s) taught: General Elementary
Grade(s): 1

At the time of the Award, Abby Turbak was:

McKinley Elementary School
Watertown, SD

Subject(s) taught: General Elementary
Grade(s): 1

Biographical Information

Young learners are thriving in Watertown, South Dakota, thanks to Abby Turbak. The first grade teacher at McKinley Elementary holds high expectations for her students and promotes a growth mindset. Children progress at high levels under her care. Turbak differentiates instruction in all subject areas, breaking students up into small groups for math, reading, writing and phonics and by creating Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) to identify goals and measure growth. She understands that every class is different and researches and develops the most effective teaching practices to help students excel.

The building’s resident expert on integrating technology into curriculum, Turbak implemented a ViewSonic board in her classroom, then trained McKinley’s and the district’s instructional coaches on best practices for using the boards in elementary classrooms. When the pandemic closed the building, she helped colleagues create their Google Classrooms to make sure students had high-quality instruction while learning at home.

Turbak has served on the district’s progress and curriculum committees, as well as McKinley’s Response to Intervention team. In the school’s first year using MAP assessments, she shared strategies for using data to support student growth with colleagues. When the district adopted new math curriculum, Turbak helped develop materials aligned with district and state standards. She represents McKinley staff in the PTO and leads summer professional development sessions for district teachers on math grouping strategies, classroom management, technology, parent communication and time management. Turbak develops lasting relationships with the student teachers she mentors and opens her classroom to teachers from across the state for observation. Always looking for ways to improve her practice, Turbak attended the Aspiring School Leaders Retreat hosted by the Midwest Alliance for Professional Learning and Leadership (MAPLE), as well as technology conferences in Nebraska and South Dakota.

Turbak is a graduate of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, earning a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2010 and a master’s in elementary and early childhood education in 2011.

Press release: Watertown First Grade Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Milken Educator Award

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Article: Spotlight: Abby Turbak (SD '22)

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Abby Turbak In The News

School of Education Alumna Receives Prestigious Educator Award
University of South Dakota  |  Jan 13, 2023  |  Vermillion, SD

LISTEN --> Meet the Milken Educator Award Winner
South Dakota Public Broadcasting  |  NPR / PBS  |  Dec 06, 2022  |  Vermillion, SD

WATCH --> Watertown Teacher Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award
KSFY-TV | KDLT-TV  |  ABC / NBC / FOX  |  Dec 02, 2022  |  Sioux Falls, SD

Watertown First Grade Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Milken Educator Award
KGFX-FM  |  Dec 02, 2022  |  Pierre, SD

LISTEN --> McKinley First Grade Teacher, Abby Turbak Receives Prestigious Milken Award and $25,000
KXLG-FM  |  Dec 02, 2022  |  Watertown, SD

Watertown First Grade Teacher Awarded Milken Educator Award
KXRB-FM/AM  |  iHeartmedia  |  Dec 02, 2022  |  Sioux Falls, SD

Abby Turbak, Milken Educator Award Winner
Watertown Radio  |  Dec 02, 2022  |  Watertown, SD

Additional Information


2011 M.A., Early Childhood Education, University of South Dakota

2010 B.A., Elementary Education, University of South Dakota