By: Mary Ann Gomez – Balajo
When I first met my advisory class for the current school year, mixed emotions flooded my heart as I was reflecting on my previous experience with my students. It was a combination of nostalgia and gratitude. The former brings a feeling of remorse when I think whether I should have done more to help everyone in need especially in terms of emotional and even financial support or I should have done less to avoid hurting their feelings. The latter, on the other hand, brings a feeling of bliss especially when I think of some students who were in the verge of failing some grades but my colleagues and I encouraged them to attend their classes just to make up with their flunking records; thus, they were able to finish high school.
I wanted to create positive change to my students and treat them like my own children. I wanted to reach out to them and make them feel that they are important. When I started showing them my good intentions, I have felt their genuine respect and obedience. They have started to open up and reveal themselves to me.
I have this student who often comes to school late in the morning. When I asked him why he is often late, he simply said, “My mother wanted me to finish all the household chores first before she lets me attend my class.” I couldn’t help but asked him why his mother would want him to do that. I think all parents would love to see their children do well in school but this one. “She’s not my real mother. She’s just my stepmother. She doesn’t treat me well. She wants to see me suffer a lot!” he uttered these words painfully. He started to sob uncontrollably. From that day on, I started to have a constant exchange of text messages with him. I wanted to make him feel that he is cared for and he is special in God’s eyes. Then one text message from him surprised me but brought me extreme joy. “Ma’am, can I call you ‘nanay’? was one of the most ecstatic questions I’ve ever got from my student. “Yes, definitely, it would be an honour on my part to be a part of your life” was my immediate and honest response.
William (not his real name) lost his mother when he was seven years old. His father worked hard and supported him and his siblings singlehandedly for several years until he decided to get married. Perhaps he wanted to have a suitable partner who would help him raise his children especially when he started to work abroad. His father works as an OFW while he and his siblings live with their stepmother. Typical treatment of a stepmother to her husband’s children is seen in William’s. She would have all the luxury while her stepchildren would have nothing but lack.
One morning, he came to school late again. I didn’t reprimand him since I had already known what he was going through. He approached me and without saying any word, he just cried and kept saying, “_ _ _ t!” I asked him why. His face turned red but didn’t say anything.
That night of the same day, I texted him and advised him that no matter what happens, he should never think of doing anything wrong nor doing rebellious thing since these would lead him to nowhere but destruction. Again, to my amazement, he replied “Nanay, wag po kayong mag alala. Hindi po ako magrerebelde. Hindi po ako ganun. Ganito na nga po ako, lalo ko pa po papahirapan sarili ko.” At that point, I didn’t stop myself from getting emotional.
Tears just flowed from my eyes. I was grateful for the wisdom that God has given William that despite his tough situation, he never thought of giving up and doing something amiss.
His father came home sometime in October. When William saw his Dad, he was overjoyed and for the first time in his senior year, I saw genuine happiness in his eyes. Everything seemed so right for him when he was with his father. He was always early in his class since his stepmother could no longer demand him to work before going to school. Remember the famous quote, “When the cat is around, the mouse cannot move. On the other hand, when the cat is away the mouse can play.” This really applies to William’s young life. After a couple of weeks, his father returned to Australia (name of the country has been changed) and he was left under his wicked stepmother’s supervision. Old habits returned, old treatments have been refreshed.
My role as his teacher and adviser is to constantly remind him that he should keep on doing good and in due time, he shall be rewarded. Luckily, his response would always be something positive.
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