Honoring a Legacy: John S. Myszak Scholarship for Future Teachers

Honoring a Legacy: John S. Myszak Scholarship for Future Teachers

By Cristina Medina Dirksen
Communications Coordinator, Community Foundation for Monterey County

Teacher John Myszak went the extra mile to instill in young people a love of learning and to prepare them for success.

After putting himself through college by teaching children (and adults) ballroom dancing, he embarked on a teaching career during which he made it a point discover the way each of his students could best learn. John recognized that stress could be a barrier to learning so was always available to listen and talk through issues with students and their parents. He lent his compassion to troubled teens during a period when he worked evening shifts at Monterey County Juvenile Hall.

“He had a way of relating to kids, making them feel valued. He understood they needed to know someone cared, that they weren’t alone,” said his daughter, Stephanie Hulsey.

The cancer that took John’s life in 2003 has not dampened his influence. His wife Martha “Marti” Myszak established the John S. Myszak Scholarship for Future Teachers at the Community Foundation for Monterey County (CFMC) in his memory.

A Heart for Youth: A Legacy for Teachers

John spent 38 years making kids feel special, stepping in and providing direction as a long-time teacher in elementary schools in Pacific Grove. During the latter part of his career, he would leave his kindergarten classroom at the end of the school day to prepare the next generation of teachers by teaching early childhood education classes at Monterey Peninsula College.

Former students and parents still approach Stephanie and her mother Marti with stories of the difference he made in their lives.

The scholarship fund was created to continue John’s commitment to future teachers by helping to defer costs of college and credentialing requirements. Since 2004 it has helped 28 students with their education. One of their first recipients, Jordana Henry, went on to become a teacher at Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas. In 2015 she was awarded a “Crystal Apple” Award by KSBW.

Martha "Marti" Myszak“We can’t imagine anything greater for him, than to continue his legacy of educating kids, and you do that by having good, committed teachers.” – Marti Myszak, CFMC fund holder – John S. Myszak Scholarship for Future Teachers

Giving Back/Paying it Forward

John and Marti Myszak“I was always taught to give back. No matter how much, it’s important to give back,” said Marti, an active community volunteer and Seaside resident, who met John at an Arthur Murray dance studio, when he asked her to be his dance partner.

“Marti and my dad led and taught by example. They provided enormous leadership,” said Stephanie, who has served on the boards of and volunteers for numerous Monterey County nonprofits, including the Meals on Wheels of the Monterey Peninsula and Lyceum Mock Trial.

Growing up they were my role models. They volunteered for and supported many community organizations.”

Partnering with the Community Foundation for Monterey County

The family started a scholarship 15 years ago in John’s name but brought it to the Community Foundation for Monterey County in 2018 after learning about the CFMC’s vast network and support of scholarship services.

The CFMC manages more than 50 named scholarships funds and operates a free online portal for students. One application can match them up with additional scholarships established by other CFMC donors.

We knew we were partnering with an organization with a wonderful reputation, engaged in our community, able to connect us with people who shared John’s passion.” – Marti Myszak 

“We wanted to have a platform where more students who need scholarships could find financial support,” added Stephanie.

About CFMC Scholarships

The CFMC’s scholarship funds are established by individuals, families and businesses who recognize the value of education and want to extend a helping hand for upcoming college students. Many people start funds to memorialize a loved one or support students in a certain field of study. Others entrust the CFMC with the responsibility of finding and selecting students with the highest need and potential to succeed in higher education.

The CFMC has become a one-stop shop for students in Monterey County seeking scholarships to attend the college of their choice,” said Christine Dawson, CFMC Vice President of Philanthropic Services.

For more information about creating a scholarship, contact Christine at (831) 375-9712 or visit www.cfmco.org/scholarships. Learn about available scholarships or read more scholarship stories.

Cristina Medina Dirksen is the Communications Coordinator at the Community Foundation for Monterey County, where she oversees social media, website support, blogs and content creation and development for CFMC publications. She can be reached at (831) 375-9712 x110.

Photos: Randy Tunnell