I never knew I would find myself teaching. As a little girl, I was scared of teachers. They were the kind who punished, the kind who seem to do nothing but watch every false move you make. They were the people who pinched your ears when they caught you talking in line or make you stand through out the period.
They were responsible for depriving you of not taking recess for failure to make assignments, or smack your dirty fingernails with a ruler and make you write “I will not disobey my teachers again” fifty times on the board while the class resumed behind you. Except for a few of those who did take time to be friendly after classes, teachers to me were authorities to be feared.
My view of them eventually changed as I met some remarkable teachers along the way. It was in college that I met one who was lovingly dubbed by students as the “living saint” of our school because of her patient ways and charming smile amidst unpleasant conditions. She was not one to judge or punish but one to listen, understand, counsel and inspire.
Her students in high school and college loved inviting her to their parties because she was the type known as “game” or one who enjoyed whatever or however a party went. She’d go as far as accompanying students or nieces to a rock concert. I even brought her to be my chaperon on a date at a concert once. She was the first one who introduced me to the practice of speaking to God like a friend, something I found difficulty in doing because of how I perceived God as one who ruled with a whip.
Her name is Gemma Abellon, “Gem” to her friends and a gem to students. I grew to love teaching because of watching her motivate those under her care. I witnessed how important a teacher’s job was in helping students develop their potential, build character, form values and inspire them to go for their dreams. She encouraged me to write poetry and put music into my poems. She was there to applaud and support me in contests and school performances. She never grew tired of showing me the beauty of numbers and wonders of math and would give out a hearty laughter when I wear my quizzical look, after her tedious explanation during one-on-one tutorial sessions.
In my sophomore year in college, I became a Drama club moderator for high school. For years, she was my teacher, mentor, friend and spiritual guide. She still inspires me until now though we don’t get the chance to see each other often.
I left to work in Manila for five years and decided to come back to Cebu to accept a job offer of teaching play production class for the Mass Communications Department in my alma mater. Along the way, I partnered off with my siblings to start a consultancy firm and then moved to opening an informal school for musical theater teaching kids as young as three years old. I grew to love training children. They always kept my spirits up.
Years past and I met a teacher-administrator, ten years younger than me, who owned a preschool and taught me more than I could ever imagine. She revealed the loving tender God I have never met before. She showed me how God is her best friend, going about the day chatting with each other, sharing tender moments together and the like. She revealed this loving God who would just listen as she went about ranting and raving at Him while He calmly looks at her with gentle eyes and hugs her when she’s done. She even asks Him to wake her up when she needs to take her medicine in the middle of the night during feverish days and asks Him to go with her on dates!
Is this blasphemous or too radical? No, it was endearing and liberating. I knew God was revealing the truth of unconditional love through her. This loving relationship she had with God is evident in the way their school is run. I have been a witness to how they lived out their slogan of “nurturing minds to learn, love and live” with every activity they planned for the little ones.
I was awed at how the kids in their school went about activities with twinkling eyes, cheerful smiles and contagious laughter. I was warmed by the way the 3-year olds went about taking their snacks like responsible adults. Getting the cue from the teacher they first get their respective place mats, put it on their desk, get their food and drinks from their bags, position their food on the place mat, take their seat, open their sandwiches or ask assistance from the teacher in tearing biscuit wrappers and then proceed to eat quietly and contentedly. I never knew 3-year olds could be as disciplined, quiet and act responsibly with very little supervision! I just knew their school was unlike any other. They were doing something right.
This teacher-administrator-owner goes by the name of Michelle Simtoco known also Ripplemaker on Hubpages and my co-author in this site. Co-owner and principal is Stella Cabilao and together they make Dynamic Minds Learning House, Inc. an ideal second home for pre-school children. It is not surprising for parents of students who graduated to call back or visit and express their gratitude after reporting that their kids made it to the honor’s list in their new schools.
I stop to ask, “What then makes an effective and great teacher?” I smile as I recognize the truth. It is the presence of Love that makes all the difference. Love always teaches the most profound lessons. Now, I know why God is the perfect teacher.
By: Daisy Ba-ad