This September, in celebration of the 2019 National Teachers' Month, we share the stories of four young, passionate teacher-scholars and their teaching journey.
A Classroom Full of Dreamers
Dream, and make others dream.
In her most playful times barely 17 years ago, with the use of a bamboo stick and a makeshift blackboard underneath a mango tree, Karen remembers how she as a child would choose to play “Teacher-Teacher” with the company of her friends instead of the common Filipino childhood outdoor game tumbang preso. While she would play along and take the role of a learner being the youngest, she knew in her heart what she longed to do, where she wished to belong, what kind of heroine she wanted to become: one who champions the cause of learning in the world of teaching.
Karen did have a chance to help her classmates read on the first grade, and her aspiration for teaching only grew bigger throughout her elementary days. However, literacy was a complex challenge one cannot easily disentangle. As she moved on to high school years, her childhood vision of holding a bamboo stick was dimmed little by little by life’s realities. Nonetheless, this did not put an end to her journey of teaching.
Years have passed, and she is now a teacher of Grade 12 students at the Ilocos Norte National High School. What brought her to this? Remarkably, it was the day she had to settle upon which path she would pursue in college. Back then, Karen remembered the words of her mother: “Choose teaching because our country needs thousands of good teachers every year - and you could be one of those.” All in good faith, she decided to do so.
The first two years of college was rigid, both for her and her parents who supported her financially. Despite being a scholar, the stipend she received yearly was not enough to provide for her needs. When she was about to enter her third year, she heard about the STEP UP (Scholarships for Teacher Education Programs to Upgrade Teacher Quality in the Philippines) scholarship program and she immediately applied. Fortunately, she became one of the four recipients who passed the rigorous screening out of the 11 applicants from Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU).
Karen knew that for her to be the Teacher Hero she desires to be, she needed to be fully equipped and ready, just as other superheroes have their own time of dispatch. Hence, optimism welled up in her as she strived to make her way to this point of her journey, when STEP UP provided her with holistic support, covering not only financial but also mentoring programs as a form of psychosocial support.
“Through the mentoring, I became motivated to rejoin various organizations, work harder on discouraging days, achieve more on brighter ones, and become the best version of myself,” she said.
“It strengthened my resolve to help my students fulfill their dreams and become productive citizens of the country.”
But STEP UP’s support did not end after she graduated. The program continued on to provide assistance as she took the Board Licensure Exam for Professional Teachers or (BLEPT). With the preparation she received from the said program, she knew she was ready to take on the world.
Standing in front of students every single day, she realizes a dream fulfilled. Now that Karen is finally a licensed teacher, she carries forward her unwavering passion for teaching and sees that each class is an opportunity for her to grow professionally and even personally. Be that as it may, she acknowledges the challenge that in a society like ours, it is easy to lose sight of education as a blessing and a gift. This is why she is all the more compelled to stir up a young group of passionate visionaries through teaching.
She once was a dreamer, and now she stands in a classroom full of dreamers.
Scholarships for Teacher Education Programs to Upgrade Teacher Quality in the Philippines (STEP UP) is a five-year scholarship campaign by Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), funded by the Australian Government. It gave an opportunity for individuals of different backgrounds to become licensed professional teachers.