IF not for a different uniform she wears as she goes to the workplace, one would mistake her for one of the children inside the room. But her angelic voice notwithstanding, she always commands respect as she greets everyone, “Good morning, pupils!”
Loud and in unison, they respond with a cheerful, “Good morning, Teacher Ayeen.”
Irene Games is a daycare teacher at Pao 1st in Camiling, Tarlac. She has been sending off her charges to the big schools for the last 20 years and does not seem to tire of it at all. In fact, she says, she can be doing this for the rest of her life.
Ayeen, 42, stands four-feet-five-inches – not much taller than her pupils. But this big little woman has a heart as big as her mind and numerous accomplishments in her pocket.
“I really love children, that is why when I finished college I decided to teach them in the way I know I can deliver,” says Ayeen, who graduated from the Tarlac State University in 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences degree.
Ayeen always makes sure her pupils know that learning is not all about reading books and passing exams. She makes classroom work an adventure, an activity to look forward to, not a chore to be completed and get good grades for.
In her classroom, there is book learning, writing and arithmetic but there are games too, a lot of them fun and educational. The pupils are also much involved in cultural programs.
Teacher Ayeen’s hobbies – singing, dancing and drawing – play a huge part in the way she handles her classes and the kids’ extra-curricular activities.
“I can see myself in them and want to see them develop. I had this ‘addiction’ for teaching and each day I get excited to share new songs, stories and, of course, lessons,” she says.
Ironically, Ayeen and her husband, who will not be named upon her request, who have been married for 11 years have not been blessed with a child yet. Devoting much of her time and effort to teaching her pupils, she says, more than makes up for not having kids of her own.
Despite that, Ayeen takes the limelight whenever the Department of Social Welfare and Development gives recognition to outstanding workers in daycare centers. She has received numerous citations from the department such as First Place for Best Child Development Worker 2017-Provincial Level and Outstanding Day Care Worker-Very Competent Award 2016.
“I have no child of my own but these children provide the missing piece in my life and I am proud to say that all of those I handled since I started teaching have graduated with high honors,” she says.
And Ayeen’s handicap – being smaller than average – was never a hindrance for her. In fact, she takes advantage of it to win more friends than the typical person.
Even local officials always like to see her everyday at the center. Camiling Mayor Erlon Agustin, for example, has openly declared Ayeen as his favorite employee.
Ayeen’s height is also unique to her. Her parents and three siblings are of normal height but seeking medical attention for her has never come to mind for them. Growing up, she said she had always been loved and taken care of just like any child that as she went out into the world, she never felt she is handicapped in any way.