Individualized, Deliberate Instruction
I must make my instruction very deliberate when using English books to teach Filipino children. It takes a lot of schema or background knowledge activation. Most of the time, I could not even use an English text because of cultural disparities. In addition, every child needs to learn to read Tagalog first (native language) before teaching Reading in English.
Another addition to my current skills is my graduate subject – EDR 255 (Adult Literacy). I taught in a remote mountainous place (Apia, Rizal) and taught adult learners (ages 25 to 60) whose skills ranged from non-readers and writers to beginning readers and writers. I taught them in the context of their work – agriculture. So the approach was very different from teaching beginning Kindergarten readers and writers. My sight words were the names of the fertilizer, stores, soaps, and signs they would see daily. I created pre and post-diagnostic assessments to measure their progress. All the instructional materials were designed to complement their daily lives. When I taught, I could not use the books I used with my elementary kids because of their different interests. I had to devise ways, and I created materials that would engage them to read authentically.
I continued this deliberateness of instruction, and I was able to prove it when I passed the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in the USA. While undergoing NBPTS certification in 2008, I was a volunteer Bible small group leader for grade four at Kids Quest in Mclean Bible Church. I was blessed to have it attained one shot with flying colors.
Several teachers are knowledgeable. However, few people know the curriculum, those with teaching expertise and those who care and are passionate about teaching. And that is what distinguishes Young Scholars Circle teachers from the rest.
How did Young Scholars Circle start here in the United States?
I did not have plans to migrate to the United States until a series of events, which I thought was a tragedy, hit my two sons and me. There were no other options for me. I had explored all the possible ways to solve my situation for ten years, on my strength, but the Philippines’ laws had flaws. They could not protect my and my sons’ lives, so the only way left for us was to go. We flew here to the USA in 2005 and left the preschool I built, Young Scholars Learning Center in the Philippines, which was at its height then. Unlike other immigrants, I came here not for economic opportunities, but as an asylum seeker, for protection.
Adjustment to a foreign country was difficult. In the Philippines, I had three maids that do the laundry, housekeeping and cooking for my family. My parents, relatives, and friends were all nearby, for help, at any time. I had real estate properties that earned passive rental income. Of course, it was different here in the USA, where I had to start everything from zero.
There was a time when my youngest son was sick. I brought him to the emergency room at midnight, and my oldest son had to remain at home alone, though he was too young for that. I was physically present with my younger son in the emergency room, but my mind was on my oldest in our Leesburg home. During that time, I was only left with $65 in my bank account. This and other numerous events made me fall to my knees. I just surrendered. Looking back, these dilemmas were blessings in disguise because without them; I would never have given my heart to Jesus Christ!
As a single mom with two sons, I needed to provide for my family. With all the medical bills piled up, relying on a single income in Northern Virginia was insufficient. So, in addition to working for Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) as a full-time Reading Specialist, I also did tutoring after school. In 2007, a group of five parents approached me and asked if I would tutor their children in preparation for the TJ examination. So, I taught them for about six months every week, at the kitchen table, with my portable whiteboard. This was my first coaching experience for TJHSST entrance exam preparation.
It was successful! All of them passed the first round, and only one did not get admitted. I coached them from the first to the final round, and they made it and graduated from TJHSST in 2013. From 2005 to early 2009, I experienced tremendous success in private tutoring: 100% of my students qualified for entrance into the Academy of Science (i.e., Academies of Loudoun), including a severely dyslexic student who had difficulty writing. My PSAT and SAT students boosted their scores to 300-400 points in both Critical Reading and Writing. Even the learning-disabled students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) drastically improved their scores; all of my struggling readers improved their Reading to be on the level. My second and third graders were placed in FUTURA (gifted program in LCPS). There came to a point where I had so many parent requests and referrals that I could not tutor all the students by myself.
So, in July 2009, I started incorporating the Young Scholars Circle and hired equally capable and passionate teachers. The success has continued up to the present day.
All Glory to God
Isn’t it amazing what God does to our life? I praise Him, for He is the perfect Father. He lovingly disciplined me. He physically saved my life and my sons’ lives. Our Heavenly Father opened the equivalent of the Red Sea for us when we could not find an escape. This was when I was still an atheist. He knew that I was stubborn. He removed everything I relied on – family, business, and all the comforts, which encouraged me to rely on Him. After getting to know Him, I no longer need anything else. He is sufficient for me! Because of all the things that my sons and I experienced, I feel that I can face anything without fear. It molded me!