When Thank You is Lame

Vicky is my good friend from my MA Sped class.  She teaches Grade One at St. Bridget’s. I saw Vicky in the faces of my St. Scho teachers at the Homecoming – caring, creative, resourceful, kind, warm and generous.  Thank you doesn’t seem enough but really, what is there to say?  🙂 What is there to do but hug them and thank them for all they did for me and for the many generations of Scholasticans they taught.

After the mass at the grade school chapel, Mrs. Conti was complaining that no one was saying hello to her. My sister, Minette, and I didn’t recognize her but of course she knew us.  How could we not know and remember our very best English teachers?  In grade school, it was Ms. Sarmiento, Ms. Leyva, Mrs. Orden, Mrs. Cachola, and Mrs. Calbes. In high school, it was Ms. Jaymalin, Mrs. Conti, and Mr. Aquino. They made me appreciate words, made me pay attention to subject-verb agreement, made me appreciate reading, language and literature. Thankfully, I learned proper diction and enunciation too.

Mrs. Fitero was my adviser in I-H (with Ms. Annette Flores-Garcia, now a children’s book author based in NZ), and in 2-G.  In freshman year, I didn’t join any club because I just didn’t feel like it.  I was class president and Mrs. Fitero was aghast that I didn’t have a club.  She said I had to join ANY club to make it to the honor roll. I’m sure she doesn’t remember this but she told the upperclassmen in the Art Club to just take me in.  She said, “well, you can make yourself useful by cutting the lettering for our many school programs… marunong ka namang gumamit ng scissors, di ba (you know how to use the scissors, right)?  And so for one year, that was what I did – cut letterings and buntings for the school programs!

I’m more right brain dominant (creative) than left brain (logical). But because we had the motherly Mrs. Confiado and the lovable Ms. Motas for Algebra, the fabulous Ms. Gabor for Geometry, and the pretty Mrs. Sierra for Trigonometry, I learned to analyze, persevere and problem solve. These skills would come in handy as an adult as I cared for a sickly child. There were math geniuses in our batch like my friend, Fatima, who would nail the solution more often than not with a smile.

We had excellent teachers in Science too. Mrs. Itay and Mrs. Bautista in grade school; Ms. Delos Reyes, Mrs. Cuanang and Ms. Tugab in high school.  My friend, Amarjit, would love for me to write about Mr. Azurin but he wasn’t my teacher in Physics, unfortunately. As kids, we were awed and inspired by watching mongo sprouts (mung bean) grow from seeds. In sophomore year, all who had Mrs. Cuanang for Biology went through frog dissection and a timed exam to identify the parts of a frog. I’m thinking now what those experiments taught me. Faith in miracles? Grace under pressure? Compassion for the poor frog? 🙂

And who would forget the sports, music, and crafts that so enriched our lives growing up in St. Scho?  Ms. Medina passionately taught us music history and the classification of musical instruments. Mrs. Yusi made us look forward to chorale competitions. Ms. Mataban in grade school and Mrs. Centeno in high school taught us cooking, sewing, cooking, putting on make-up and changing baby diapers, among many other practical things.  Mrs. Fitero and Mrs. Delfino taught us to dance gracefully or tried their very best anyway.

These teachers (and the many others whose names escape me now) cared about their students and tried to get to know us as individuals. They weren’t just about editing grammar and syntax, or making sure that solutions to algebraic equations and theorems were correct. Even when we misbehaved, didn’t pause for the Angelus, or didn’t sing our alma mater song in perfect pitch, they loved us anyway, genuinely cared, and wanted us to succeed. So really, thank you seems rather lame.

I’m 42 this year, at midlife, and redefining my metrics for success. I’ve been greatly influenced by Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive” (Harmony Books, 2014). In it, she wrote, “our eulogies are always about the other stuff: what we gave, how we connected, how much we meant to our family and friends, small kindnesses, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh.” So guess what, I’m going back to teaching! I took too many detours but have found my way back by God’s grace. I know I’m in a really good place.

*originally published in St. Scho’s FB page on the occasion of our batch’s 20th year.  

 

 

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