For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a teacher.
I remember figuring out early on that I would have the summers off with my children. I would have tenure. I would have great benefits, and a pension. I would have the same hours at work that my children would have at school. (But of course, we also know that teachers keep way longer hours than that.) But ultimately, if I wanted to be a wife and a mother, the career path that becoming a teacher would provide me with, would be a priceless addition to becoming a parent.
I received my degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Multicultural and Gender Studies, from SUNY Cortland many years ago. What I have realized along the way, is that working with kids was always my passion. It didn’t matter whether that kid was diagnosed with a special need or not…I just wanted to provide my students with the opportunity to be more, be better, find success, and hopefully, if I was good at what I was doing, perhaps change the world one student at a time.
As the years have gone by, and I have birthed four beautiful human beings together with my husband, Nino, I have not been able to find my way back to the “traditional classroom setting.” I’m ok with this, because I have been given many opportunities to work with kids of all ages and abilities through the years, and for this I am grateful.
So instead of going to work everyday in a school where I have my own classroom, I have chosen to teach in different ways. I have taught yoga to children. I have taught religious CCD classes. I have assisted in coaching little peanuts in soccer, and I have led a girl scout troop with my co-leader back home in NY.
After the birth of my daughter, Evangelina, I have also been gifted with the opportunity to work with children AND adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
But the kids that I find the most rewarding to work with, are of course, my own.
Each of my children have different ways in which they learn. I fall back on my education as a novice teacher and what I studied back in college, when I look at what works for each of them in their studies. Their strengths all lie in their different multiple intelligences.
This is why, when my friend Cat Juan Ledesma invited me to the Open House of Beacon Academy, I jumped at the opportunity to explore another secondary school for my boys. Gia will be graduating this year, and she fairs very well in the traditional school setting.
I didn’t want to explore and learn more about Beacon for her.
Rather, I wanted to see for myself, if Beacon would be a good fit for my boys, with all things considered.
Beacon Academy is located in Biñan, Laguna only 5 minutes from Nuvali, 20 minutes from Alabang, and 40 minutes from Makati. It is very easy to get to from our place and the campus is sprawling. There is room to grow and from what I understand, in the future, there will be dorm like housing put up for students making it easier for those who live further from the campus to achieve a greater sense of independence.
DISCUSSION BASED LEARNING
@beaconacademyph is a school that believes in facilitating the learning process in quite a few ways. Teaching through the #Harkness method encourages a “round table” discussion amongst the students where they learn by sharing their own thoughts and ideas rather than taking notes. Teachers present a thought provoking idea and can also participate in the discussion by guiding students as they develop their ideas rather than lecturing in the front of the classroom. This type of collaborating (instead of competing) ends up creating a greater understanding of the topic at hand for the students, and a community where they are more respectful of one another’s ideas. Thus, making the classroom a safer and more generous place to learn and live. Look for my upcoming post where I visited Beacon Academy during their #openhouse and was a high school student for the day. #community #beaconacademyph #alternativelearning #highschool #harkness #inmyhood #education #manila #secondaryschool
The Harkness method originated in Exeter. This basic premise alone, is revolutionary when you are teaching students. I recall my professor in college referring to the “teachable moment.” This moment occurs when you inspire the student’s curiosity. It can happen anywhere. It’s when kids ask “Why, When, and How?” It’s when the lightbulb goes off and kids suddenly realize they want to know more, understand more, and apply what they have learned in their daily lives.
This is the ultimate “lightbulb moment.”
But this is not the only aspect of a Beacon Academy education that impresses me.
The time I spent with some of the students from the student council opened my eyes up to the confidence a teenager can build when they are successful, accepted, and able to explore the different facets of their potential. I heard how they spoke. How they listened. How they interacted not just with the parents who were touring the school, but also with each other.
I didn’t see the culture that I have seen in some of the other schools I have spent time in. There was no obvious bullying…
Gosh, and being a teenager is hard enough without being bullied…
Some of the classes that I chose to sit on were equally impressive. I realized that the faculty that Beacon has employed are the same teachers I would have wanted to hang out with in the teachers’ lounge when I was a bright eyed, bushy-tailed novice teacher hoping to change the world. These teachers are actually walking the walk they talk. I was inspired by the way they taught, spoke to their students, and incorporated basic principals of required classroom learnings in a fun and exciting way that reached each of their students individuality.
Physics through HOT WHEELS?
Music through history and study, as well as performing arts?
History through film? Current events through round table discussion?
Leadership through club activities that are well rounded and student led?
Guidance in choosing the university that is the right fit for your soon to be college kid? Beacon Academy graduates are in universities ALL OVER THE WORLD!
I suppose that these are the main reasons why Beacon attracts the brightest minds in the country. Their level of individualized education, is something that many open minded parents desire for their children.
Even more important, Beacon Academy has one of the fastest growing scholarship programs in the area. About 20% of their student population is either on a full or partial scholarship, making it easier for parents to play on the strengths of their children.
These scholarships are not only offered for academic merit, but also for creative excellence, athletic achievement, leadership, and community service.
Talk about well-rounded…
We all wanted to raise well-rounded children who will grow into becoming productive members of society who will contribute in positive ways and make us proud.
Well, Beacon Academy also requires that each 10th grade student come up with their own idea of community service and give back to help solve some of the country’s problems. If I do this as a parent, my kids understand the need I have for our family to contribute to a cause that is greater than us. Bigger than us. But, if students do this together, and come up with a plan to help, how to execute the plan, and change the world just a little bit at a time, then I believe they are already on their way to creating the change we want to see.
Work in Progress Fair SY 2015-2016 from The Beacon Academy on Vimeo.
If all those years ago, I wanted to make the world a better place by reaching one student at a time, and now, as Best Buddies Country Director, I want to make the world a better place through one friendship at a time, I see the obvious parallels in choosing an education for my sons at Beacon Academy through alternative learning experiences because Beacon Academy’s vision is one with mine.
Next on the docket?
Visit the school with my boys and my husband.
Peter A Ressa says
sounds great Michelle!