A Colorful Story by Hulusi Zafer Ecevit
Two years ago, I found myself thinking of who impacted my life the most. The answer came to me quickly: my junior high school teachers, John Scott and Bill Edmonds. It’s been more than 50 years since I graduated from Talas Junior High School, or just ‘Talas’ as we call it, yet I still remember them with gratitude and respect. They were special people who taught me more than literature and science. They taught me to care for my community and the world I live in. Remembering old days inspired me to reach out to other fellow Talas graduates. Together, we established a memorial scholarship fund in the name of our beloved teachers: John and Gwen Scott; and Bill and Anna Edmonds, and have started supporting girls education in Turkey. TPF enabled us to make the memories and names of the Scotts and the Edmondses live forever.
The journey of the Scotts and the Edmondses in Turkey starts in the 1950s in Kayseri. John, Gwen, Bill and Anna had different backgrounds and interests but were all passionate about education. John Scott was the principal of Talas while his wife, Gwen taught English and ran the school library. Bill Edmonds was a math teacher while his wife, Anna taught English. As William Arthur Ward once said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” The Scotts and the Edmondses were great teachers who inspired us immensely. They encouraged critical thinking and discussions on the issues of the day. They organized field trips to orphanages and historical sites in the region. They motivated us to do outdoor activities such as hiking as well as indoor activities, such as theater and arts. They took us to planting trips on the weekends where we learned about deforestation in Turkey. Their understanding of education was much more than theories and lectures. They tried to equip us with the necessary tools to be leaders and emphasized hard work and good values.
I was not a good student during my first year at Talas. I was more interested in sports than my classes. Mr. Scott saw the best in me and encouraged me to focus on my studies. If it weren’t for Mr. Scott who believed in me, I may not have graduated from Talas. Their vision, motivation and kindness greatly helped me become who I am today. They treated us as if we were their own children and Turkey as if their home.
With this epiphany, I reached out to my old friends, Haldun Tashman, Marz Attar and Erkan Esmer and asked if they would join me in giving back to Turkey in the name of our high school teachers. They all responded with enthusiasm and we came together under the roof of TPF. We decided to give the gift of education because quality education empowers you. All of us are a living proof of it and we wanted to empower students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity, the same way we were supported. Other fellow Talas alumni joined our efforts. With the 120K we raised in their memory, each year one girl receives scholarship to attend Tarsus American College. TPF provided a platform for those of us in the US to make a tax-deductible donation and touch the lives of students in Turkey, like the Scotts and the Edmondses touched ours.
It is amazing how people from your childhood impacts you. The impact the Scotts and the Edmondses have on us was beyond ourselves. It was also on our families, communities and later in life on our professions. Their story is just one of the many where giving back to the community creates lasting change. We, as Talas alumni, hope now we continue the change they have created in Turkey by giving in their memory. We are all so excited to see the impact the girls we support will make in Turkey’s social and economic development. TPF has guided us through this journey and helped us honor our teachers in a manner that they would appreciate the most: through philanthropy.