Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes, they’re inside the four corners of our classrooms, making a difference every day and igniting the spark inside us.
From Sept. 5 to Oct. 5, we celebrate National Teachers Month and thank teachers for all they’ve done and for being like our second parents.
Growing up, I always admired my teachers for going to school hours before classes started; teaching different lessons and topics every two hours (sometimes they have three- or four-hour classes); making daily or weekly lesson plans; going home late—and still fufilling their roles in their own homes.
What makes them more admirable to me is that they’re not only passionate about what they’re doing, but they’re also leaving a lasting impact on every student. They have changed lives for the better, whether it’s through the things they teach in the classroom, or the little conversations they have with their students, the compliments that encourage them, or their simple acts of kindness.
They have shaped a lot of us to become better and progressive individuals in society, and for that, they’ll always be remembered.
Looking back on my life, I know each one of my teachers influenced me to see life in a better light and contributed to who I am today. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be celebrating and loving myself, being socially aware, compassionate and motivated to pursue my dreams.
My teacher taught me there’s nothing wrong with me
There’s this one vivid memory that I have when I was 5 years old. I was that kid who always styled her hair in pigtails and covered it with a lot of colorful butterfly hair clips. I was also that kid who always covered her nose and mouth with a handkerchief—a shy kid that wouldn't talk to anyone but my parents.
I had two classmates who always poked fun at me because of my appearance, the way I acted, and for not talking. They called me ugly, they called me a rabbit because my two front teeth were big.
I felt humiliated and cried in front of my classmates and my teacher, Ms. Jona. She didn’t scold me for crying. Instead she tried to comfort and calm me down. I can still recall her telling me that there was nothing wrong with the way I looked and acted.
She told me not to listen to what my classmates said, and to just continue styling my hair the way I wanted.
While my self-confidence wasn’t immediately boosted, Ms. Jona helped me realize that there was nothing wrong with me. I still hold on to her words, making it one of my mantras in life. Whenever I feel people belittle me, I always remind myself there’s nothing wrong with me, and that I’m still learning to become a better version of myself.
My teacher awakened my mind and consciousness from slumber
Prior to senior high school, I didn’t bother to get involved in social and political issues. In our household, we weren’t encouraged to participate in such discourses because we were “too young to understand.”
I didn’t make an effort to read and study national issues. I didn’t know what the SOGIE bill, abortion, feminism, and divorce were about. I didn’t even know about Martial Law—except that my mom participated in the EDSA People Power Revolution and hated Marcos.
Everything changed when I entered senior high school. At 11th grade, my social sciences teacher Mr. Mark changed my perspective. He explained every topic clearly. He made social science—a subject that I initially found boring—easy to understand as we covered the most essential details of each topic.
He awakened my mind and consciousness from slumber, pulling me out of the dark tunnel and helping me realize how to become a progressive individual. Mr. Mark and social sciences were among the highlights of my senior high school because they were the reasons I became a fierce advocate for feminism, the SOGIE bill, mental health, and human rights.
He ignited a spark inside me and empowered me to become a catalyst for change.
My teacher made me feel valid with simple acts of kindness
Teachers are no stranger to adapting and adjusting, but the challenges brought by the pandemic are quite different. Despite these, they continue teaching to the best of their ability and try to ensure that students learn.
I admit there are lessons I don’t remember during this year and a half of distance learning, but one thing that will surely stay with me is that despite the hardships we face, teachers still treat their students with compassion and kindness.
One professor I had last academic year, Ms. Elaine, is one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. She always checked in on us, asking how we were doing. Whenever she felt that we were overwhelmed by the workload from other subjects, she would adjust the deadlines in her own.
Ms. Elaine never failed to let us know that our feelings are valid, and we should treat ourselves with kindness. I will always remember her for her words and acts of kindness, her enthusiasm in teaching—and her remarkable red lipstick.
These teachers are some of our modern-day heroes and most important people in our lives who shape us to become better individuals.