A New Building, A New Chapter

A New Building, A New Chapter

In this fall semester, 2009, our historical secondary school in Izmir began a new chapter in its long history. Founded by our missionary predecessors in 1878, the Izmir American Collegiate Institute has now formally opened a rebuilt Taner building. In addition to the usual classrooms and school facilities, the new Taner has a girl’s dormitory on the top floor.

In this fall semester, 2009, our historical secondary school in Izmir began a new chapter in its long history. Founded by our missionary predecessors in 1878, the Izmir American Collegiate Institute has now formally opened a rebuilt Taner building. In addition to the usual classrooms and school facilities, the new Taner has a girl’s dormitory on the top floor.

The Izmir school, which was formerly for girls only, discontinued its boarding section in 1974. But the graduates of Izmir and the other American Board schools see boarding as a key to the long-term viability of the Izmir school. Acting through their Health and Education Foundation, these graduates have been planning to revive boarding in Izmir. Now their dream has come true.

Betty, who spoke in the opening ceremony, said that buildings don’t make a school. She reminded us of the many parts of the world where children gather for education without a roof over their heads. Our Izmir students are remarkably fortunate in that they do enjoy such excellent facilities. The Health and Education Foundation is investing millions of dollars and providing top quality campuses for these students. But we must remember that it is the students and their teachers who are making the school, not the buildings. And we have been privileged to watch this history unfolding over the years we have served in Turkey.

Thirty girls now live on the top floor of the new Taner Building, enjoying modern, spacious living quarters with a magnificent view of Izmir and its bay. What’s more, these girls are from out of town, from different parts of Turkey. This means greater diversity in the student body. It also means the Izmir school is now a national rather than a regional institution. The pool of prospective students is larger, and there’s more competition to enter. Enrollment is up this year. The graduates are immensely pleased in realizing their goals for their schools.

We had a beautiful opening day for the new Taner Building, with local officials, Foundation directors, teachers, students, graduates, and members of the Taner family in attendance. Ibrahim Taner was a long-serving Turkish administrator and teacher in the Izmir school. When the original building was erected in the 1950s, it was dedicated to his memory. During the opening ceremony his descendants proudly recalled Ibrahim Taner’s reputation and personality. They were grateful that the school continues to honor his memory, and that they could be present on this historic occasion.

We, too, as members of a long line of Americans who were invited to work in the Izmir school, appreciate how it strongly observes its heritage. It is an institution where generations of Christians, Muslims, Jews — Turkish and foreign — have worked together for common ideals of citizenship, service, and learning. It’s a legacy that the graduates are protecting and developing. And it’s a legacy that all Americans who contributed to it can celebrate.

Peace,
Betty & Ken Frank

Ken & Betty Frank serve with the American Board in Istanbul, Turkey.  They share the job of General Secretary of the American Board.  They also serve on the board of the Istanbul Interparish Migrant Program (IIMP).