By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
All schools, both public and private elementary and secondary levels, were enjoined by the Department of Education (DepEd) to hold activities that will honor the educators as it led the kick-off of this year’s celebration of the National Teachers’ Month (NTM) on Monday.
The formal declaration of NTM was led by DepEd Undersecretary Tonisito Umali and Region 10 Director Art Bayocot. The ceremonial kickoff of this year’s NTM was held at Initao National Comprehensive High School in Misamis Oriental.
The event coincided with the launching of “Salamat Po Teacher” and the unveiling of NTM. Umali and Bayocot were joined by Philippine Postal Corporation Postmaster General and CEO Joel Otarra and Bato Balani Foundation Executive Director Ching Jorge.
DepEd said that it “continuously recognizes the significant role of teachers in educating the Filipino children” through the NTM starting September 5, and its culmination on October 5 in celebration of the National Teachers’ Day (NTD) and World Teachers’ Day (WTD).
According to DepEd, this year’s theme, “Gurong Pilipino: Handa sa Makabagong Pagbabago,” stresses the “crucial role, loyal service, and dedicated commitment of teachers in developing globally-minded citizens, nurturing families, strengthening communities, and building the nation.”
Meanwhile, DepEd lauded teacher Mary Ann Laguitao of Compostela Valley (Region 11) for her dedication to Filipino learners.
According to DepEd, the 49-year old Laguitao of Mabini Central Elementary School (MCES) was considered a “reading warrior” for “her quest to combat illiteracy.”
Despite being a solo parent raising a 15-year-old son diagnosed with severe autism, DepEd noted that Laguitao “still managed to spare her valuable time to teach struggling readers and non-readers” not only in MCES but also in the entire province. “Like a rare wildflower that radiates beauty and hope amid wilderness, Ma’am Ann brought colors to the once dim lives of 3,030 struggling readers in the entire Division of ComVal since 2013,” DepEd shared.
DepEd said that Laguitao, who was “fueled by her vision and advocacy to eradicate illiteracy,” wrote and published a book entitled “Beginning Reading” in the hopes that it “could make a difference in the lives of the schoolchildren of ComVal who do not know how to read yet.” To help little children learn how to read, Laguitao authored another significant book entitled, “Have Fun in Reading! Workbook for Grade 3 English” which is used throughout the ComVal Division.
Meanwhile, DepEd shared that the provincial government discovered Laguitao’s expertise in teaching reading and requested her to craft another substantial reading material — the “Summer Big Brother – Reading is Fun (SBB) for grades 2 and 3 to help the non-readers and out-of-school children in the ComVal.
Laguitao’s brainchild, DepEd said, became the “teaching resource” used in the Bayanihan Para sa Karunungan (BPSK), a program of the provincial government dubbed as “Summer Big Brother” which has “significantly improved the reading competencies of the learners.” Due to the “significant improvement” in the reading proficiency levels of the learners brought about by her book, DepEd said that the Conrado and Ladislawa Foundation Inc. (CLAFI) adopted it and sponsored supplies distributed to the other public schools in Mindanao, specifically in Davao City, Iligan City, Zamboanga City, and Saranggani Province.
After the implementation of the reading program in CLAFI-sponsored schools using the books, DepEd said that the number of non-readers and struggling readers dwindled from 1,739 to 40 non-readers.
Laguitao’s books, DepEd said, have “traveled within and across the islands and ignited learners’ hopes.” According to DepEd, the books were also used in one of the schools in Thailand when her good friend and a former teacher of Mabini District introduced the books there.
DepEd also noted that Laguitao “does not craft books for recognition or appreciation” because “it is her own way of selfless extension of her skills to those in need.”
Given her efforts, Laguitao was awarded a certificate of recognition as nominee in the Achievement of Great Instructional Leadership Award (AGILA) of Region XI Division Reading Specialist in 2018, which led her to become one of the national learning resource evaluators of quality Assurance and recently a recipient of Governor’s Award for Excellence for her exemplary performance in the field of education.
Laguitao was highly commended by DepEd for “sharing knowledge in curriculum and leadership through mentoring and coaching colleagues, observing classes and administering implementations of special programs, maintaining linkages with stakeholders, and taking the challenges of ancillary services” as well as her efforts of serving as the school paper adviser since 1998.
DepEd noted that Laguitao also teaches evening classes at Maco Institute of Technology to “financially augment” occupational therapy sessions of her son. “Despite all these, she has been sponsoring some 80 scholars since 2005,” DepEd said. “Many of them are now earning a living without knowing who sponsored their tuition,” it added.
Laguitao, DepEd said, has also been serving as the coordinator of the Clean and Green Program of her purok in Barangay Binuangan, Maco since 2007 and has helped formulate the Local Climate Change Action Plan for 2017-2018.
DepEd noted that Laguitao’s advocacy to alleviate illiteracy “enabled every beneficiary of her acts to redeem themselves” and be given a chance at a better life. “She believes that teaching is a privilege, a gift from God to be shared,” DepEd said. “For her, when one is a teacher, one’s influence is so far-reaching that it changes people’s paths, and eventually, their entire lives,” DepEd ended.