Alumni Spotlights

Ann Sumner, ’73, M.A.’75: Teaching in Turkey

  • on June 28, 2016
  • by Lisa McMahon, M.A.'09

Ann Sumner had no plans to become a teacher when she enrolled as an English major at Niagara University. She aspired to be an academic, like her favorite NU professors. But to earn money for her master’s degree, she took a job as a substitute teacher in the local high school and found she had a real love for and connection to the students there. After earning her M.A., she began her teaching career in earnest, first in Binghamton, N.Y, then in Tampa, Fla., finishing in Sonoma County, Calif., where she also coached boys and girls tennis, created curriculum for a humanities course at a middle school, and was chosen Teacher of the Year by her students.

 The years in the classroom took their toll, however, and three years ago, Ann decided to look for an opportunity to work with international students.

She found it at the KOC School in Istanbul, Turkey, where she took a position as a department mentor. Today, she teaches students in grades 9 and 11, and mentors the new teachers in her department. The curriculum is conducted in English, and most students are fluent in the language, she notes, adding that for some, English is their fourth language.

Ann’s passion for the teaching profession was reignited at the KOC School, and she loves working with her students, who are among the top 1 percent in the country and have to be admitted through a rigorous testing process. She describes them as “intensely smart, motivated and sweet,” and “endlessly curious about the US.” She adds that teachers in the school are respected and valued, and “treated like royalty by the school’s owners.”

 She also loves living in Turkey. Despite misgivings from her family and friends, Ann found the country to be “a grand and beautiful place,” that enables her to travel to Europe frequently. When her work at the school is done, Ann may move to Germany or back to her first home, Hawaii. However, she points out that she has “no immediate plans to leave Turkey and the wonderful life I have here.”