The Filipino Teacher

Reva Lachica Moore

Most schools all over the nation started last week, and even though I no longer have children in school, something triggered flashbacks in my mind.

When I was in grade school in the Philippines many years ago, a typical study night at home would start after supper. My siblings and I would gather around the dining table to study and do homework. And who would be at the head of the table? My father – an elementary school teacher and principal at the same time.

As he grades papers and makes his lesson plans, he would look around to see if any of us would need his assistance. We’d all stay quiet, reading and doing our homework. Study time at home was like being in a library – where no one could talk.

My father taught in a public school 8 miles away from home and we children went to a church school half a mile away. Since we didn’t go to the same school, I thought my father’s public school academics weren’t the same as ours, so why would I need his help? Yet, each night, he’d sit on the dining table waiting for us to ask for help from him. One night I got curious and asked my father, “What grade are you teaching?”

“Third grade,” he replied.

“Oh? Just like me? I am in third grade.”

“I know. I teach the same grade that you are in. Last year I taught second grade.”

“But why? How can you teach any grade, and why do you follow me?”

“I am the principal. I can teach any grade I want. Besides, I want to help you.”

Right there and then I realized my father wanted so much to help me. And since he was so good in math, he taught me problem-solving until I got proficient in this subject. Each year as I advanced to another grade and all the way to 6th grade, my father taught the same grade in his public school.

Teaching was his passion and patience and discipline were his virtues. He made sure we all understood our lessons and we made good grades.

When it was time for me to go to college, I told my father that I wasn’t going to follow his footsteps. I didn’t want to take education in college. And none of my 9 siblings did either. It probably broke his heart since nobody wanted to be a teacher like him.

Until one day many years later, I started teaching medical technology students here in the States, so I called my father, “Dad, would you believe that I am a teacher just like you?” I could hear chuckles on the other end.

Teaching is one of the most satisfying jobs there is. The major goal of each teacher should be the development of their students in accordance to the basic demands of the modern world as independent, intellectual, social, and responsible citizens. The basic goals of education and teaching in particular, may be achieved in different ways, and the effectiveness of teaching depends on the teacher. This is what typifies a Filipino teacher. I also know these are the same ideas of American teachers and others.

As the educational system here in the U.S. struggles to meet the federal ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act’s requirement of “highly qualified” elementary and secondary teachers in every classroom, the U.S. school districts keep looking beyond the country’s borders to staff their classrooms.

No wonder why the Philippines, which has long supplied the United States with nurses, has emerged as a recruitment center because of the surplus of education majors and it’s English-speaking population. The US schools prefer Filipino teachers because the accreditation requirements are very much like the American requirements.

And so not long ago, I met several of the almost 200 Filipino teachers from the Philippines who are currently teaching here in Louisiana. Unable to recruit enough teachers from America, a Human Resources team from a Louisiana Parish School System here recently traveled more than 8,000 miles to the Philippines to fill in critical vacancies for this school year.

“I was very impressed with the candidates and their desire to come to the U.S. to work,” said a personnel administrator. “They were very knowledgeable about their subject matter and I was shocked at how many of the candidates had their master’s degrees.”

Classes started last week here in Louisiana and I asked some of the Filipino teachers how they liked their students. One said that she has well-behaved and smart students because she teaches at a Magnet School.

Another one said that she lost her voice from talking loud at rowdy kids. One said that one bully student told her to go back home where she came from. Another said a student pushed a chair toward her. But all the teachers smiled.

They know they have tough jobs ahead of them, but they will do them well.

The excellent work of the Filipino teachers has been recognized here in the U.S. Some had been given Teacher of the Year awards and just to name a few: Feliciano Jaime Atienza – New York Times

Teacher of the Year 2008, Marie Alexis Relampagos – Teacher of the Year in the Houston District, and Ophelia Miraflores-Barizo – Private school Teacher of the Year in Hagerstown/Washington County.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence will stop.” Henry Brook Adams

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.” Psalms 32:8 ~ Our Heavenly Teacher

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