Saturday, May 01, 2010

When I was a school administrator back then...

I call myself an accidental Special Educator, because it wasn’t my plan to be in this field. My childhood dream was to become a doctor. And I was in medicine proper, in full scholarship, when I realized I was called for another profession.

My exposure to Special Education at the Center for Developmental Intervention Foundation at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center has left me deeply encouraged to be with special children who are in need of time and affection. I realized that if a regular child yearns for attention from people, more so with special children. Unfortunately, most of them have been fed with a diet of leftovers- leftover love, leftover patience, leftover laughter, leftover stories, leftover kindness, leftover energy, leftover everything.

I did not fail myself by not fulfilling my childhood dream, I feel that I am now in a better position. As a special education teacher I don’t look after people’s physical health but the child's mental health. I don’t dissect people’s brain but I open my students' minds in wonder. I don’t cut people’s hearts, rather, I touch their hearts. With what I do now I am able to save lives in a different way...

This morning I missed my friends and wanted to see how they were doing. It's been awhile since I last logged in to my Facebook account. I was guilty of not responding to some friend requests, like Billy, who has been reminding me about it. As soon as I accepted his invitation, the chat box popped up and we started bridging the gap and reminiscing about the times when I was a school administrator (at 23 years old) and he was one of my hardworking staff. Teacher Billy Esmalde just recently finished his MA in Special Education at the University of the Philippines (my Alma Mater). He sent me his photo with the caption "the result of my hardwork and perseverance amid the adversities"...

Billy:Teacher Sol, how are you? t. sol kmusta po?
Me: I'm ok, congrats! ok naman...congrats!
Billy: Thank you, Teacher Sol, for all the trainings and the skills you gave us, thank you so much. The rest of us, Melody and Fretzie, are now in the UK
salamat t. sol sa mga training s mo sa amin, salamat talga, c t.melody nasa UK na at fretzie
Me: you're welcome! I'm glad to hear I made a positive impact on you!
Billy: Of course, we miss Funshine, please come back home so you can give us some more training-seminars, you inspire me Teacher Sol
syempre naman miss namin FUNSHINE, uwi ka pinas mag seminar ka sa amin, idol kita t.sol
Billy: I miss your management, we still talk about you with Melody and Fretzie, we miss Funshine
miss ko management mo talaga pag nag uusap nga kmi nila melody at fretzie
sayang wla na funshine
Me: Funshine will always be with our hearts and minds
Billy: yes
I left a legacy in the Philippines – Funshine Preschool in Lagro QC and Funshine Special Ed Center in Fairview QC.

Funshine - “being bright while having fun”. That was our motto, which suggested a developmental philosophy of teaching students. The logo was a smiling bright sun, with eight rays. Why the sun? Why the sol? The sun is a source of energy, vibrant, shines bright in darkness. Since I was a kid my family called me Marisol.

I miss how the parents and my students called me Teacher Sol. The title is a sign of respect, teachers are highly regarded in my country.

I started the schools with just 4 tutorial students. The students grew to more than 50 in five months, and branched out to two satellite schools in four years. My friends who are taking their MA in SPED were helping me provide the services we offered to the kids before I left the Philippines.

Since its inception summer of 1998, my schools has managed exceptional children who needed academic follow-up and advanced lessons from pre-school to high school, refreshment and review sessions for the next school year, as well as tutorial and therapy sessions for children who are exhibiting infantile autism, ADHD, language disorder, and learning disability.

A lot of entrepreneurs became instant millionaires because of this business of putting up a private school. It was lucrative but I charged a very minimal tuition fee because the parents of my students could not afford the prevailing rates for such services we offered.

I am not an entrepreneur. I am an educator.

Me: How are our students at Funshine? kamusta mga kids natin sa Funshine?
Billy: They're all grown ups now, Funshine has greatly impacted me, look at us now we are successful and having a better life
malalaki na sila, malaki impact sa akin ng FUNSHINE, tingnan mo kung nasan ka po ngayon successful kna at kmi nasan na grabe...maganda na buhay namin
Me: I know...I learned a lot from you guys all made me what I am today
You have been around, what is so different about Funshine? what made it stand out to you?
Billy: Discipline, high expectations, and most of all you treated us fairly and that is extraordinary for an administrator here disiplina at wlang mas mataas sa iba you treat us fair, basta t.sol mismo kaw masasabi pag andito kana sa pinas
Me: I really tried...
Billy: Yup we're now miles away apart but at least you still remember us, Sherwin, T. Car, and Lanie, you will be in our hearts
oo nga ang lalayo na natin pero at least in our hearts t. sol naalala mo parin kami nila melody, sherwin. t. car and lanie
Me: of course, will never forget the bond we forged w/c made us resilient amid the storm
irreplaceable...hard to replicate
Me: T. Billy, now that you have the skills and the wisdom to make a difference to our children, I challenge you to do the same thing...
Billy: i will t.sol

I was in tears after our conversation.


Phil said...

Your story is very inspiring, Teacher Sol. I have been following your blog and I got lots of ideas from it and not only ideas but inspirations as well.

Teacher Sol said...

Thanks Phil. I appreciate it. Godspeed...

Promethean Planet


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