About Me


Almost a year ago during the times when I was very restless, I wrote a reflective entry On Becoming a Teacher Leader. I shared that I spent my college years at the University of the Philippines, the premiere state university in my country, where freedom of thought and expression was exercised which provided me with a complete armory for activism. But then I heeded the advice of my mom to focus on my academic responsibilities and never to get involved in any form of political action. My professors gave me the wisdom and the skills to learn the Socratic way, and the passion to stand up for what is right became an integral part of my words, thoughts and actions.

The prospects are both exciting and frightening where I am now. Keeping body and soul together can be as formidable as any journey especially when the train where we are all in seems to be moving towards the wrong direction...are we still going to the final destination? Thanks to the guidance and encouragement of some significant leaders of our teachers union, I am not giving up hope.

There are so much things happening right now on the local and national level which lead to frustration, anger, and all that is harmful not only to the teachers but also to the children whose lives we continue to influence daily. It is always a challenge to not fall prey to victimization and to steer clear of the blame game. After going through a long and meaningful introspection, I realized that working with the people who have the same mission has taught me to fully understand my role as a teacher leader. As I said earlier, "I realized that when I empower, support, encourage and inspire the teachers to do their best for the kids, I am impacting the lives of more than just the students in my classroom."
While we do our best in the Washington Teachers Union (WTU, Local 6 of the AFT) to make decisions that are best for the kids and fair to teachers, debates and heated arguments happen on the table just like in any active policymaking body. When this happens, I remind myself to choose my reactions. As it is a fact that circumstances don't "make" the teacher; circumstances "reveal" the teacher.

I have learned so much as a member of the WTU executive board (2007-2010), from policymaking, keeping relationships with the staff and partners, to establishing rapport with my colleagues. I have also learned and internalized some core values in life, that it is important for us executive board members to be team players, to respect each other's views, and to collectively adopt a "can-do" attitude and to be willing to pitch in to get the union's work done. It is also required for us to look for ways to build consensus, and respect and support the majority decisions of the board. It is also imperative that we refrain from criticizing fellow board members, discussing confidential proceedings outside of board meetings or interfering in the duties of the officers. There are still many of us who have made a firm decision to keep our integrity and professionalism.

I believe that it is unfair to lay all the blame of the current state of education at the feet of the teachers unions. Our union representatives exist to uphold the due process rights of full dues paying members like me, just as a defense attorney would protect the accused. While many people (mostly are not educators) attack the teachers unions, I strongly profess that I have become a better teacher and a stronger leader because of my teachers union, the WTU. Times have changed (a lot) and I believe that public education has evolved since then. It is very timely that we have a new (and very controversial) teachers contract. I saw that some of the current practices and norms in 21st century teaching and learning are embodied in the teachers contract (see: Ground Breaking New Contract Takes Effect). When giving our thumbs up (or down) for this new contract, I hope we can think about how we should change our traditional practices to better reflect the tasks assigned to our schools, teachers and students today.

Keep the fire burning!
Maria Angala, NBCT (Exceptional Needs Specialist)
WTU Vice President of Special Education 2007-2010


(Class of 2009 NBCT Reception)

Good evening everyone!

I remember three years ago when I was sitting with the audience listening to Zakia Zims and Cosby Hunt deliver their reflections, I was deeply moved with how the National Board process transformed them as educators that I told myself that one day I’m going to be like them: accomplished, confident, and inspiring. In November of 2009, I made it happen.
Now is my turn to share to you how the National Board process has been life changing not just for me but more so, for my special needs students. Six years ago I was directly hired by DC Public Schools from the Philippines to teach in one of our inner-city public schools. I started as a struggling teacher who was in the dark not knowing how and what to teach my students effectively. The educational system was completely different from where I came from adding to the language and cultural barriers. Honestly, I was not ready for my students and I horribly failed them and the expectations of the parents. I spent my first three years just struggling to survive in the classroom.
One of the immortal quotes that Maya Angelou said was: “We will sometimes have defeats in life but you can have defeats without being defeated, you can fail without being a failure. Winners see failure and defeats as merely part of the process to get to win.” It was stuck in my heart. I wanted to be an accomplished teacher, I worked very hard, I survived, and I thrived after my third attempt. Being a National Board certified Teacher is a “dream come true”. I did not become an effective teacher overnight, knowledge and implementation of the core propositions of the national teaching standards and best practices over time made me the educator that I am today. This has been the most challenging but my most rewarding professional development experience as a teacher! Each round made me a better teacher that my students deserve; each year showed increase in my students' achievement as evidenced by their authentic work and not just test scores.
I want to thank my mentor and my master, my help and my hope, my guide and my God, I am so thankful for all that He has done for me! I thank my husband Reiner, and my children, Rae and Rohan, for their love and support. Thanks to my family back home in the Philippines, especially to my Mama, for their encouragement and great faith in me…wish they were here on this important reception. To my wonderful friends, thank you for your understanding, I am back! I am very thankful for all the people who contributed to this accomplishment and who has stood by me in finishing this journey. To my current principal Stephanie Patton for the guidance and push which made me persevere against all odds. Thank you to my WTU/AFT family, who’s always encouraged me and gave me the confidence when I prefer to walk the path less travelled. And most importantly, I thank my students for the inspiration, and the hugs and smiles that gets me through a stressful day. I want to see my former students, I can now look straight in their eyes, I want to tell them that I am a better teacher now because of them.
To my colleagues and aspiring candidates, we need to set higher expectations and higher standards for ourselves so we can inspire our students and encourage them to do what it takes to be successful in life. We need to make a strong decision to take control of our actions and not just to sit by and let others define effective teaching for us. We are the key players in the education arena and not just mere instruments in this education reform. We need to make our voice heard and let everyone know what matters most to our students that we, classroom teachers, better understand. I am proud to belong to the teacher leaders of the nation!
Ladies and gentlemen, standing before you now is not a struggling teacher anymore but an educator who can maximize her students’ potential, a teacher leader, a learner, and a collaborator. I am Maria Angala, special education teacher/ intervention specialist at Jefferson Middle School, Technology Liaison of the DC Area Writing project, Vice President of Special Education of the Washington Teachers Union, Exceptional Needs Specialist National Board Certified Teacher Class of 2009.
Thank you and have a good evening!

Meeting Harry Wong...


Filipino Teachers from PG County MD (3), Washington DC (1) and Baltimore MD (119), representing the Pinoy Teachers Network (PTN), were invited as special guests at the Digital Harbor High School Baltimore MD by the keynote speaker himself, Mr. Harry Wong, last Tuesday August 15 during the school’s New Teachers’ Orientation.

Mr. Wong is the author of “The First Days of School” and the most sought-after speaker in education today. More than half a million teachers all over the world adhere to his wisdom. He is a living legend to every successful teacher worldwide!

It was an honor and a privilege for PTN to be personally invited, to have our books autographed, to casually talk and have photos with him. He overwhelmed us with his presence and motivated us with his practical strategies, common sense, user-friendly, no cost approach to managing a classroom for high level student success. Because of his inspiration, indeed every Filipino Teacher will not only survive but thrive.

A year ago it was just a dream meeting Harry Wong... I made it happen. What's next?

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 us...in 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, powerful...it 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 too...you 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.


Promethean Planet


The following is the opinion of the writer and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. Any view or opinion represented in the blog comments are personal and is accredited to the respective commentor / visitor to this blog. This blogger reserves the right to moderate comment suitability in support of respecting racial, religious and political sensitivities, and in order to protect the rights of each commentor where available.