Many people say that teaching is the noblest profession.
This is probably the reason why many high school graduates enrol in the Education course, be it for the elementary or secondary level. Not only that, many degree holders enrol the course to earn the minimum units required to be allowed to teach or take the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET).
With the starting basic salary for a newly-hired teacher in the public school system which is over twenty thousand pesos, it is really very tempting to join the teaching profession. Being a teacher entails a lot of considerations. It is not always a bed of roses; there are thorns that inflict pain at times.
As a teacher for more than 20 years, Teacher Ella has tasted the joys and pains that go with the job. Her first teaching experience was in a private elementary school. She finished the degree Bachelor in Secondary Education so she was supposed to teach in high school but due to the offered teaching position by her landlady who owns a private school, she decided to accept the job right after graduation. For her, it was a way of repaying her landlady for all the kindness extended to her through the years of her stay in that boarding house.
Making adjustment was not that easy especially so that she was used to dealing with high school students during her in and off-campus teaching then she suddenly shifted to elementary graders. She handled Grades 3, 5 and 6 with class sizes as 11, 5 and 3 respectively. “What a class size”, you may say. Indeed, teaching was somewhat of a tutorial because of the small class size. The salary she received was not that big but she enjoyed each day because teaching was full of fun and enjoyment. To Teacher Ella, it was a nice set-up while waiting for the release of the result of the Licensure Examination for Teachers. The moment the result was released and she successfully passed, Teacher Ella prepared herself for application in a public school. She bid goodbye to her friends and pupils in her first teaching station and tried her luck in her own birthplace, in her Alma Mater.
Back then, application for a teaching position requires a lot – effort, time, money and connections. Teacher Ella was lucky enough not to be a victim of the rampant alleged selling of teacher items. However, she was advised to secure a recommendation letter from a political figure and the process that she underwent was no joke. She had to return several times with the help of some “go between” people who happened to be close to the politician. Her efforts did not go in vain when gradually she was given the said recommendation letter. Teacher Ella thought that with that letter, everything will be alright but it was not. She had to bring the letter to the Regional Office and hand it to another “go-between”. After that, she passed through the usual process for a teacher-applicant – written exam, interview, but no demonstration teaching. After all have been done, she stayed put while waiting for the result of the hiring process, only to learn that another teacher-applicant from a very far municipality got the position she applied for. According to a reliable source, the said teacher-applicant was recommended by a politician. Feeling frustrated, Teacher Ella conditioned her mind that probably it was not yet the right time to be employed in her own Alma Mater, much more in her own birthplace.
Days later, Teacher Ella was notified by the school head of her Alma Mater that she had to report to the division office and she did. Once there, a division official asked her how she happened to get a recommendation as well as how she came to know a certain regional official. She explained the entire process that she had undergone. When she left the division office, she had with her a much-coveted document for a teacher applicant – an ADVICE LETTER which is a proof that she was already taken in for a teaching position and in her own Alma Mater. However, her joy was put on hold when she noticed something in the letter. What kept her wondering until now was that there was an erasure in the name of the addressee. In other words, that was intended for somebody else but it did not matter to her that time because the erasure was countersigned and the Schools Division Superintendent affixed her signature. You might be wondering, “What happened to the other teacher-applicant in her Alma Mater?” That, Teacher Ella did not know until somebody said that the said teacher-applicant was assigned to another school and it his own hometown.
After seven years of teaching in her birthplace and due to marriage to someone from another place, another division, Teacher Ella had to seek for transfer. She thought probably it would be different that time. She underwent the hiring process, this time, with demonstration teaching. The policy then was she had to file her application in three schools of her choice and she did. To her knowledge, out of the three schools, she ranked first in one of the schools but it was a bit far from her residence. In the second school where she applied which was farther from the first, the result was pending until she complied with one condition; that is, she resigns from her present work station that time. With that condition, that said school was out of the picture because Teacher Ella could not understand the logic why she should resign when she was seeking for a transfer. Unfortunately, in the third school which she preferred because it was close to her residence, during the interview, a member of the school selection committee said that another teacher-applicant was seeking for transfer. What gave an edge to the said applicant, according to the committee member was that she is a native resident of the barangay where the school is located unlike Teacher Ella who only became a resident of the place by virtue of marriage. Teacher Ella’s husband knew that the other transferee was not a native to the place as was said by the selection committee member. He had a friend at the division office so he asked about the result of the ranking and right before his eyes, he saw that Teacher Ella ranked first and the other applicant placed third. When the result was released, the other transferee was taken in. Curiosity got the best of Teacher Ella’s husband, so accompanied by his friend from the division office, he went to the school and asked the member of the selection committee who said that the other transferee was a native to the place regarding the rank of Teacher Ella just to test. Without batting an eyelash, the committee member answered, “She ranked third.” When asked, “What about the other transferee?” Still, without batting an eyelash, she answered, “She’s first.” Teacher Ella’s husband bid goodbye and thanked the person for the “precious” time spent in answering the queries. What a luck, right? “Poor Teacher Ella”, you may say. Indeed, because with the impossibility of being hired in her most preferred school, she tried to follow-up her application in the other school where she ranked first but she was informed that the position was already filled up.
Teacher Ella’s husband wanted to file a complaint but Teacher Ella stopped him and asked, “Have you ever heard of the wide range of discretion being employed in the hiring process? This just proved it. One thing more, I want to be taken in not because you complained but because I was really wanted to be in.”
With that, she resigned to her fate that she stay in her Alma Mater despite the inconveniences of commuting daily where she had to leave the house too early in the morning and be back home late at night. If possible, Teacher Ella did not want to transfer because she loved her birthplace and the people in it but what really urged her was the continuously rising transportation expenses. You may say, “Why not stay there on school days and go home on Friday afternoons?” The answer is, Teacher Ella has school age children to care for and look after who are studying in their place of residence.
Days and months passed by, Teacher Ella went with her usual daily routines, still enjoying teaching and the company of her students and her colleagues who happened to be her former teachers. When the year was about to end, an unexpected news reached her when she came home one night that an employee from the school where she preferred to transfer went to their house, telling that there was already a vacancy and she was advised to report to that school. In addition, the school head of that school personally talked to Teacher Ella’s husband, telling the same news. Gladly, she reported as advised and she was given instructions on what to do. That included getting a recommendation from a politician. To herself, Teacher Ella muttered, “Oh no, not again.” But she complied just the same.
Back to her work station in her Alma Mater, she disclosed the good news but what met her were teary-eyed colleagues, who, if possible, did not want to let her go. Teacher Ella was supposed to be happy because transfer was already within her reach but the days that followed were gloomy. What saddened her so much was the crying students, who, upon knowing that she will leave them begged her to stay. Teacher Ella said that she wanted that too but the rising transportation expenses drains her financial resources as her daily fare costs much because she had to pass by three towns before she can reach their school which is quite far from the town proper. What shocked her was the students reply in chorus: “We will contribute daily for your fare, ma’am.” What a silly idea, don’t you think so? Those students had the guts to say that when in fact they did not even had regular daily allowance as their parents are mostly farmers.
The processing for the transfer took place and since it was a division to division transfer, Teacher Ella had to return several times from one division to another until the entire process was over. She opted not to have a send-off party because for her that would be for the best as she did not want to leave the place with a heavy heart. Text messages and notes from students begging her to stay flooded but she had to be firm in her resolve that she was doing what was best for her family.
She started teaching in her new work station at the start of the last month of the year. The first weeks were not easy but her consolation was that it was as if she was still in her former school because the uniform of the students was similar to that of her previous students. That enabled her to get by whenever she missed the students she left behind.
Right now, she is already at home in her new school and she enjoys every single day until a news reached her that their school head who took her in and who became her idol will be reshuffled to another school. When asked about her reaction, misty-eyed she said, “I will go back to my former school and division and be a teacher-applicant once again.”