She wanted to be a journalist, but ended up as most outstanding teacher

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TEACHING has become more than a vocation for teacher Cherry Vinluan. A public school teacher from Guagua Elementary School in Pampanga who teaches English, Mrs. Vinluan said that teaching became her passion and she’s happy to serve children, the community people and fellow teachers, as well.

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“I taught for 22 years and two months now in Guagua Elementary School, Guagua East District, Guagua, Pampanga since my first appointment as Teacher I in 1991 and at present I am now a Master Teacher II,” Mrs. Vinluan told The Manila Times in an email correspondence.

Mrs. Vinluan shared that she did not want to become a teacher when she was young. She said her preferred career in life was to become a journalist, but because her parents could not afford to enroll her in this course; she was forced to take up teacher education.

“It was quite expensive to study in Manila or out of town, and the big factor is that my parents could not afford to enroll me this course (journalism), so, I prepared myself to love, embrace teaching,” she said.

When asked what pushed her to become a teacher, “My dream was to become a mentor to children and to uplift the economic status of my family.”

“I always want to finish my studies and become a degree holder since I was surrounded by people in our community who are non-professionals then because of our status in life (we belong to a poor community). After finishing my course, I’m so lucky for I became the first degree holder in our family since my eldest brother chose to work rather study after graduating in elementary just to send me in high school, then college because he helped my father who is sick of epilepsy (which started since I was born, 1967) and could not work. With this, when I graduated and start teaching I stand as an inspiration or model of the other parents so they started to value education and send their children to school,” she said.

Mrs. Vinluan also believes that life is a continuous learning process especially in her profession as a teacher where one needs constant improvement in terms of updating knowledge and expertise and be able to cope with the ever-changing practices in knowledge sharing and propagation.

“Every day is a journey in our life that we need to conquer whatever consequences we may face along our way. After fulfilling once dream or desire, we should not stop there. As long as we live, we continuously fight and struggle for the triumph that awaits us. I say so that life is a continuous learning process because this is a nonstop activity,” she said.

For her, learning, while it should be designed as relevant, informative, and timely, it should also be entertaining and interesting. She ensures that she uses different strategies to be able to enhance student participation and engagement, — from classroom skits to academic games that foster social interaction, creativity and critical thinking.

“Today’s generation (21st century) is already exposed with e-generation. Speaking of e-life, they easily get bored with traditional although relevant, informative and timely technique or approach in teaching is given to them. So, I should not be left behind among my students. My principle is that I should at least be a year ahead of what they know,” Mrs. Vinluan said.

“This is the reason why I need to make every lesson interesting and entertaining and think of a way that my students have fun and entertainment while learning the lessons presented to them for I believed, in this way, lessons learned will last,” she added.

Mrs. Vinluan is yet another example of a resourceful teacher. She is passionate and determined enough to deliver the best learning experience for her students even if at times they have to face a reality of being situated in a flood-prone area.

“Guagua, our town, is a flood-prone area. Every year, we’re already preparing ourselves for the coming of the flood. As a committed teacher, flood is not a hindrance in my teaching. Although, it’s flooded, teaching life must go on. I and my students go to school riding ‘banca’. As usual, I stand in front of my students wearing my “black rubberized boots” in a classroom surrounded with floodwaters,” she said.

“Another, is that if we’re foreseeing a bad weather for the next days and impossible to come to school, I already think of ways that we will not miss our lessons even they are at home. So what I do is I made modules and these modules will be brought home and stand as the teacher of my students because this is a teacher-made student-friendly instructional materials for they are designed for them. And when regular class day comes, that’s the time that we will do the checking of the activities assigned to them at home and proceed to the new lesson. With this, we are still updated on our competencies in every subject,” she added.

Through the assistance of the local government unit and non-government organizations, school alumni and other community members, she was able to put up an Extensive Reading Center in her school to develop the passion for students to read books.

“Our goal in putting up this Reading Center is to encourage our pupils to visit and read here regularly and also spend their lunch break in reading or viewing instead of playing under the heat of the sun or make some noise that annoys other students. This is also our way of showing the importance of books to the children and that through books they can expand their horizon. Our very purpose for this is to inspire the children of Guagua and Pampanga to have a genuine love for reading that is the dream of every reading teacher like me,” Mrs. Vinluan said.

Believing that “reading is the tool of all learning areas,” the Kapampangan public school teacher also developed instructional materials and conducted research on improvement of reading comprehension, especially for slow readers. Her action researches also focused on children’s reading comprehension through the Catch Them Early Intervention Program and the Five Words a Day and Single Question Technique, which yielded good results, minimizing the number of non-readers in their school.

“I feel so saddened when there are non-readers in our school after conducting the annual Philippine Reading Inventory Test given to grades one to six pupils. If the students are incapable to read, how can they pass their Mathematics, Science and other subjects since this is the basic that they should know how to read and comprehend the text. And when I learned about the students who are tagged as non-readers, I will convene the concerned children together with their teachers and plan to conduct an intervention class. I personally hold a remedial or intervention class for these non-readers. This is being done after class hour with the consent of the parents,” Mrs. Vinluan said.

“This intervention or remedial class that I am holding becomes an instrument in saving our students to become permanent non-readers and will not be left behind among their classmates, academically speaking,” she added. “In this remedial class, I prepare and developed instructional materials for slow readers such as small and big books personally written for them and own invented simplified materials since they are slow learners just to answer the needs of these readers-at-risk. This is the kind of problem that I successfully solve in my action researches I am conducting in our school.”

Aside from the students, Mrs. Vinluan also shared her knowledge to her fellow teachers in her division and region as a resource speaker in Reading and Mother Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education, and in the Teacher Induction Program and National English Proficiency Program.

“Whenever the DepEd-Pampanga or DepEd Region 3 sends me to a national seminar workshop or training, I make it a point that I share to my co-teachers what I learned from the training because not all teachers are given the chance and opportunity to be part of the said trainings. I’m doing this for the benefit of our school children and also for professional growth of my fellow teachers. I’m not selfish when it comes to what I know. I love to share as long it helps people who are in need especially our students,” she said.

She also takes pride in her culture, serving as a Kapampangan curriculum writer.

“I had the chance to become a curriculum writer in our Mother Tongue (Kapampangan) and it started last 2010 when I fortunately chosen as one of the representatives from region 3 to attend the Mother Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education training. I was trained to write in the national training I attended and this curriculum was used in our Mother tongue and I also guided the Tagalog, Ilocano and Zambal (from Zambales) speakers to produce their own Primer in our region,” she said.

As president of the Pampanga English Teachers Association, Mrs. Vinluan said she voluntarily provides leadership training among English teachers in her province.

“I conducted different trainings like leadership training among the English teachers in Pampanga and particularly in Guagua East District. In 2001, I conducted a 6-day training (3 days for primary teachers and 3 days for intermediate teachers) in our district regarding “How to make intervention materials for slow readers.” We were able to come up with materials personally authored by the teachers and presently using them in their remedial classes to save the children who are at risk in reading,” she said.

Furthermore, as chairperson of the Christian Education in their barangay [village], she initiated the Bantay-Kalusugan and Feeding Nutrition program to improve the health of indigents and malnourished children in her barangay.

“When I was the Christian Education chairperson, I initiated the Bantay-Kalusugan wherein part of it is the feeding program. We fed the 100 indigents and malnourished children in our barangay sponsored by our church members working abroad. We regularly do it until they turn out to be normal in height and weight. Another highlight of this project is the street cleaning of the youth in our barangay to free our ‘kabarangay’ especially kids from sickness brought by polluted surroundings,” Mrs.Vinluan said.

Because of her service, the Metrobank Foundation will recognize her as one of the country’s most outstanding teachers for this year. She is the first-ever awardee from Pampanga province.

She and other winners were conferred with gold medallions. They also received plaques and a cash prize of P350,000 each during the formal awarding last September 5, as highlight of Metrobank’s 51st anniversary celebration.

Now on its 29th year, the search honors the teaching profession, recognizing those who exhibit competence, remarkable dedication to their work, and effective educational leadership, as well as their various community involvements.

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