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Thank you Teacher Michelle!

Metrobank Foundation, Inc. President Aniceto “Chito” Sobrepeña whose advocacy is to help our educational system, especially our teachers wrote me a request to help them celebrate the National Teacher’s Month which ends today, which is timely celebrated also today as World Teacher’s Day as declared by UNESCO. Their theme this year is “Thank you Teacher”.

I’m supposed to write issues like what I learned from my teacher, but since the last time I was in school was eons ago, I decided to write about a teacher that I personally know. This is the story of Ms. Michelle Therese G. Yap, a Teacher in Cebu City’s Quiot Elementary School who handles Science, Music, Art, PE and Health and the Campus Ministry, training the choir on ukulele and flute ensemble. She is a graduate of the Ateneo de Davao University, Major in General Science and has been working for 21 years. She is a distant cousin of my wife.

Teacher Michelle enrolled at the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) where she took up Bachelor in Elementary Education major in General Science. Education was not a very popular course in that prestigious university so her schoolmates were shocked when they learned that she was an Education major. One guy even told her, “Kasayang nimo, Ateneo ka unya Education lang?!” She was hired and assured of a teaching position at the Elementary Dept. of AdDU.

A few years later when they moved to Cebu, she applied to teach at the Public Schools. It was her first time to be at a public school and she experienced a culture shock, as it was a different world from the Private Schools. Teaching at AdDU, she was provided with all the resources needed to teach her subject, from the red ball pen to the Pentel pens, Cartolinas and Manila papers. But that was not to be in the Public Schools.

In the public school she discovered to her consternation that she had to provide her own. She even had to ask her dad if he could help finance the landscaped garden in front of her classroom since her principal pressured her to have that area landscaped. She also asked him if he could help renovate the toilets and have a sink installed inside the classroom since their school didn’t have a common lavatory and toilets. Everything she needed she and her father had to provide.

And since there were no textbooks, she had to look for ways to provide them with learning materials. This is the reason why she got so dismayed over the news that Department of Education (DepEd) returned Billions of pesos back to the treasury when there was so much unspent budget because the teachers are spending their own money for these essential tools in their teaching.

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If there is anything she truly hates, it is the Internet café, those small Internet shops that are home-based scattered in the community. She has no problem if they operate their business after school and during weekends. They lose pupils because of these Internet cafes since she cannot compete with the graphics of Data or other computer games.

One time, she went around the Internet near her school during school hours because a pupil had been missing school and was reportedly seen at these distractions. She finally found him, wearing his uniform and carrying his backpack. He was pretending to go to school so his mother (she worked as a labandera) who was really financially hard up could give him his “Baon” so he can use the money for his computer games. I’m sure that Teacher Michelle is not the only teacher having these problems with their school kids.

A few years ago, her former pupil surprised her when he called her and told her about his achievements since he graduated with top honors and a lot of awards. He is now a doctor. Another joy came to her when her most difficult pupil contacted her through Facebook and informed her of the good life he is now enjoying in Canada. I guess these are achievements that make our teachers proud about themselves. 

Teacher Michelle is currently the Music, Art, PE, and Health (MAPEH) District Coordinator in her school. She also trained a choir which won their Division Daygon Contest. She is currently training elementary pupils for the Ukulele and) Flute Ensemble. Her class got blessed when a group of doctors and friends donated and painted 46 ukuleles and provided her pupils with art and painting materials and storybooks. Her relatives also provided assistance to supplement meals to her malnourished pupils. I especially chose write about Teacher Michelle because for me, the years in Elementary school are a child’s formative years, the most important years for learning. If we have good teachers like Teacher Michelle, then there is hope for a better generation of Filipino citizens in our nation’s future.

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Email: vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com.

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