Teacher Retires To Move To Turkey
After 23 years in the classroom, John Seiple is turning in his grades for the last time. Come July 2, the John Tyler High School teacher will get on a plane with a one-way ticket to Turkey.
He lived in the country for several years in his 20s teaching English, making friends and enjoying the culture. This time around he plans to do a lot of writing, meeting people and relaxing.
The 57-year-old has been contemplating the move for several years. Although he has always traveled a lot, he realized about two years ago that he really wanted to return to Turkey.
"For me I really love that part of the world," Seiple said. "I love the old world. I love the challenge of the old world, to be able to spend time, to go places, even places that people don't normally go to."
Growing up he moved several times living in Illinois, Ohio and Utah, before his family settled in Grand Prairie when he was in middle school. After finishing high school, he attended Abilene Christian University majoring in English.
He then went on to seminary "not to be a preacher or minister ... but just to get into the whole way of thinking."
At 23, he left the U.S. and traveled for seven years, spending most of the time in Turkey. He said it was there that he put a lot of the ideas, beliefs and knowledge he held to the test, especially about religion and faith.
Through that experience he said he learned to separate the cultural parts of Christianity from his beliefs.
"When you put these values to the test, then you really get to be more independent," he said. "Well, it turned me into a free thinker."
Seiple made some money teach-ing private English lessons during his first stay there but eventually decided to come back to the U.S. where he started teaching. For many years, he coordinated the English as a Second Language program at John Tyler and more recently has taught writing and world history classes.
But he never lost that spirit. That desire to travel, to take risks, to see the world. Over the years he has visited dozens of countries including all of Central and South America, as well as countries in Europe and the Middle East. He's rather laid back about his travel plans.
"I have yet to make reservations when I go somewhere," he said. And he's holding true to that for his upcoming trip.
Seiple said it's easy for him to meet people and he plans to check out two Turkish cities -- Bodrum and Marmaris -- before deciding which one he wants to live in. Both are on the country's southern coast. His plans are fluid, and he has no set time for how long he's going to stay there.
His unencumbered life helps him in that regard. Although married at one time, Seiple is now single and has no children. His parents have died, and he's debt free, he said.
The plans that he has made include writing. Some possible topics are education and stories from his previous travels.
Part of the reason he is choosing to retire now is because the focus on standardized testing has taken the challenge out of education for him.
"I'm going to make that transition that continues to stimulate me," he said. "I love the whole cross-cultural challenge. It's such away to challenge one's thinking. I always encourage my friends and my students when you get old enough to buy a passport."
Despite his feelings about the current educational environment, he said he appreciates all of the opportunities he has had in Tyler ISD. He said the classroom is "where the rubber meets the road" and he holds his fellow teachers in high regard.
Seiple said he has learned to be a risk-taker over time, not being different for difference's sake, but to put himself in the position to grow and think.
"It strengthens your will," he said. "It gives you a good place to talk with people because really when you travel, the thing about traveling is you meet all kinds of people, many who kind of think the same way you do and that's why they're traveling, to see and look at things from (a) whole different (perspective)."
Seiple doesn't plan to teach any English this time around in Turkey, but he does expect to teach in some capacity.
"People in that part of the world are very curious," he said. "They're constantly asking questions ... which I totally enjoy and love. It won't be boring by any case. It'll be much more relaxing and simplified to a great degree and it really makes me smile to ... think about it."