It is not usual for a classroom of children to be listening to their teacher in the company of a cat, but Tombi, an orange tabby cat, has made his way into the classroom of third graders in İzmir a few months ago and has been living there ever since.
Tombi was first kept in the school yard with the nine other cats the students looked after, but was soon adopted as the third-graders' "class cat," quietly sitting through lessons while keeping the teacher and her students company.
However, Tombi had to leave the class after a complaint filed by a parent who was concerned of allergies the cat might give to the students. After hearing about Tombi's story, Ömer Yahşi, the Provincial Director of National Education in Izmir, launched an investigation to see whether the cat actually posed a health risk to the students, and ordered Tombi to be taken back to the classroom to stay with his classmates.
Once returned to the classroom, Tombi became a part of the class once again and continues to live in the classroom.
Inspired by the positive effect of Tombi on students, classroom teacher Özlem Pınar İvaşçu penned a book series featuring Tombi as the main character. Aiming to entertain children while teaching them, the book series takes Tombi and his friends to different corners of Turkey.
The first book of the series, "Tombi Şanlıurfa'da" (Tombi in Şanlıurfa) features the little cat with his friends, discovering the historic and touristic sights of the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa. In the first book, Tombi visits Göbeklitepe, the world's oldest known temple.
Tombi's adventures will continue through 10 books and in the second book, he will take a tour through the ancient city of Ephesus.
Speaking about the relationship between Tombi and the students, teacher İvaşcu said that the academic success of the students peaked in the second semester, after Tombi returned to the classroom.
"The harmony is great between the students and Tombi. When Tombi is in the classroom, the students avoid making any noise in order not to disturb him. They listen to the lessons more focused and become more neater."
The book series is written for elementary school students. The revenue of the book series will be donated to animal shelters.