H.D. Woodson Senior High School, Geometry and Algebra II, Teacher for 13 years
Why did you become a teacher?
I always believed that teaching is the noblest of all the professions. A teacher can make a difference in the lives of the students and the community to which they belong, and I wanted to be able to do that.
Who was your favorite teacher (by name) and why?
I have two. My second grade teacher, Ms. Regulto, discovered my potential, and Mrs. Manalo, my sixth grade teacher, developed it. I was moving from the big central school in a town, to a rural area near Manila in the Phillipines.
This was a hard move as I had to learn how to succeed in the rural environment that didn’t have the same level of education that the bigger school did. They both taught me to compete and encouraged me to keep my sights wide, to compete against students in other districts. I just continuously get better from there and it was because of them.
Three adjectives that describe your job:
Challenging, rewarding, empowering.
What is one thing that you wish someone had told you when you were a first year teacher?
I wish someone had told me that students are just like glasses: you have to handle them with extra care, and in your hands you can make them beautiful—with students it is helping them to achieve their dreams.
When I started teaching, I thought my students would be closer to where I was when I was a student. I had graduated with honors and assumed my students could learn the same way I did. That is not true and not something you can ever assume. It isn’t the right way to teach but I had to learn that.
Students have many challenges and can give you problems if you don’t know them and make the effort to build the rapport and teach them with care. You have to inspire them!
What's one thing your students have taught you about being a better teacher?
My students taught me that it doesn’t matter what race or size you are, you can still be influential in their lives. I am small, only 5’4”, and I speak with an accent and grew up in the Philippines.
But at the end of the year I receive letters from my students, they slip them under my door, and one recently showed me that even when students know this, they are open to you as long as you are teaching them. Two letters I just got this year:
[Reads] “I appreciate you because I learned a lot from you this year. You might be the shortest man, but there is a lot you bring to the table. If I could take you every year I would, because I know math because of you, and now math is my favorite subject.”
“Dear Mr. P,
I really and truly appreciate you and everything you do for me. You are the best teacher and I wouldn’t trade you for another teacher. You have taught me a lot. You might be little, but you have a big heart. It is open for everyone, even the wild kids. You have helped me to become a star student…”
I save all of these letters, because it makes me feel happy and more dedicated to my job. To students it doesn’t matter what you look like or how you speak, they want to learn.
Answer one or the other:
Tell a little about a time when a student's accomplishments completely exceeded your expectations. Or, tell a little about a time when you were inspired by a student.
I had a student who had many challenges with his family. But he worked so hard. Children are lost sometimes, but at the end can still excel, and he did. He was the first in his family to graduate with a high school diploma. He went to college on a full scholarship, and is in his second year. I am so proud of him.
Why is teaching an incredibly important job?
A teacher can either create or destroy lives. To teach is to touch a life for a lifetime.
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