By Marla Levine

Gilbert-based cowboy entertainer and educator Ted Newman knows the value of education.

“As a retired schoolteacher, I’m for anything that furthers education,” he said.

He is not alone.

Residents of The Forum at Desert Harbor in Peoria collected $8,500 in donations during the 27th Annual Scholarship Fund Kickoff, which will be added to monies donated throughout the year and awarded as scholarships in May.

The Forum Scholarship Fund at the full-service, rental retirement community provides employees with financial assistance toward a post-high school education at the college, nursing or technical school of their choice.

“I hear people say, ‘I’d like to go back to school and become a teacher, but would be 40 years old when I graduate,’” Newman told the audience, as he strummed up support at the fundraiser. “I reply, ‘How old will you be if you don’t go back to school?’”

An award-winning educator, songwriter and guitarist, Newman began his career in 1957 with a hit record, “Plaything.” He toured with Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, along with another singer in the audience, George Peck, a Forum resident who recorded “I Ask of Heaven” and “You’re the One” on Phoenix-based labels in the 1950s.

Peck is among the host of Forum residents who comprise the 2017-18 Scholarship Fund Committee, including Chairperson Martha Vickers, and committee members Jean Anderman, Rosalind Barnes, Bill and Lorraine Battis, Evelyn Collen, Ron Green, Tom Judd, Jeanne and Robert Leftwich, Barbara Schreiner and Nancy Zink.

Recently, the 2016-17 Scholarship Fund Committee awarded 11 employees a total of $24,000 at the 26th Annual Scholarship Awards Reception. Throughout the years, Forum residents have generously contributed to 370 scholarships, funding more than $534,785 for tuition and books.

The community is at 13840 N. Desert Harbor Dr. in Peoria.