The Incredible Story of How Our School Started
Lotus's Original Founder Returns After Over A Decade
December 13, 2022
Several weeks ago, the founder of our school contacted Mr. Williams, our executive director, and asked to meet on Wednesday, November 16th to take a tour of Lotus School for Excellence. Prior to the tour, the founder explained how our school came to be. Mr. Williams was beyond amazed, and retells his incredible, never-before-heard story.
The founder of our school is a Turkish man named Bilal Temel, a trained physicist by trade. In 2004, Mr. Temel and his family moved to Colorado to pursue his career, and he wanted to establish a school where his children could receive a high quality education. For reference, at the time, Mr. Temel was not experienced in the educational sphere.
Mr. Williams elaborates that during the early stages of planning the foundations, Mr. Temel, “hired one person to help him with the proposal that he would take to APS. In 2005, they proposed the idea of creating a charter school to Aurora Public Schools and were denied twice.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Temel never gave up. He initially raised $60,000 of his own money and then reached out to the Walton Family Foundation. [The richest family in the US that was formed by Sam Walton. Their family created Sam’s Club, Walmart, and currently owns the Denver Broncos.]
He added, “They tentatively agreed to give the school $250,000 to start. Jeff Walton was the main heir at that time of the donation. Before that donation came through, Jeff Walton died in a plane crash.” With this unexpected tragedy, the process was delayed. However, after the family mourned his loss, they eventually went through with the donation.
In addition, Mr. Temel was able to receive $100,000 from Microsoft that same year. Mr. William exclaims, “Our two major donors when our school first started were the Walton Family Foundation and Microsoft!”
Mr. Temel went down to the Safeway on Havana St., and publicly made a petition where he asked people if they were interested in the school he envisioned. He eventually was able to wrack up 300 signatures.
With this, Mr. Temel felt more confident to go back to APS for the third time. Mr. Williams explains, “How it works with a charter school is you need to get approved many times by a school district to start a school in their area. You need their charter, a type of contract to start a school.” Mr. Temel took his funds, the signatures, and his oriented plan for the education and staffing, to APS who finally granted him the charter.
In 2006, when the school began, there were only 143 students enrolled. The plan all along was to just be a 5-12th grade school. “It was never intended to be an elementary school in the beginning, but ultimately became one after Mr. Temel’s time,” explains Mr. Williams. Originally, the school found leased space at CCA’s Lowry Campus. However, there were several problems.
“After that first year, the city forced Lotus to leave because the fire inspector said the building wasn’t compliant, or safe for the students to be in.” Mr. Williams encapsulates the dilemma as the students were to leave for winter break not knowing where they’d be when they returned. Eventually, Mr. Temel found space at a country club for two months as a temporary solution. In the winter of 2006, he heard of a church in Alameda being run as a private school during the weekdays with allotted space.
Mr. Temel was able to get in touch and managed to move the school to our current location. Initially, there were only fifteen classrooms all on the first floor, with room 144 (now Mr. Well’s room) as the main office. After 6 months, the church decided to sell the building as they were moving further south in Aurora. “Fast-forward, they sold the building and Mr. Temel and the LSE board got a loan and bought the building for $5 million.”
Ironically, the church’s new building was being delayed, so Mr. Temel was able to rent space to them for the time being. Mr. Williams exclaimed, “Lotus started as the tenet, but became the landlords!”
Mr. Temel envisioned Lotus to be a rigorous school where parents could send their kids to grow a strong, STEM-based education. Early on, there was mandatory tutoring every Saturday from 10 am-1:00 pm. In addition, home visits were required by teachers to interact with students and their families to form a community. “It was very different back then, but very attractive,” according to Mr. Williams.
Many people wonder, why is our school named Lotus? Mr. Temel explained that the Lotus is a rare flower that stands out because it grows in unexpected environments. Similarly, Mr. Temel wanted Lotus School to stand out, placing direct meaning upon our school’s name. “Lotus is a rare flower that is unique, distinct, and one of a kind, and he wanted the school to be unique, distinct, and one of a kind,” Mr. Williams quotes. This was Mr. Temel’s vision.
For the first three years of the school, Mr. Temel was on the LSE board as president. Eventually, he moved away in 2010 and currently lives in southern California as a successful business-owner. When he left, his hard work was exemplified as the school remained fully operational.
“When he came on November 16th to get that tour, there were almost tears in his eyes at how proud he was with all we have done with this school,” Mr. Williams proudly states. Today, Lotus has around 950 students, is a K-12 school with several programs, renovation improvements, and provides intensive afterschool clubs and sports.
It was clear Mr. Williams greatly enjoyed the interaction, as he described the feeling of being the current executive director speaking face-to-face with the original founder.
Mr. Williams was deeply moved by the experience and commemorates Mr. Temel saying, His personal sacrifice, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into this school getting started. He didn’t take no for an answer…There were so many challenges getting this school up and running. The fact that we’re still here today, and own this property using every square space, is because of the sacrifice of Mr. Temel, our founder. — Mr. Williams, Executive Director
His personal sacrifice, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into this school getting started. He didn’t take no for an answer…There were so many challenges getting this school up and running. The fact that we’re still here today, and own this property using every square space, is because of the sacrifice of Mr. Temel, our founder.
— Mr. Williams, Executive Director