How do we measure professionalism of a teacher? Is it through the blazers that our teachers are wearing despite the lack of an air-conditioning unit in a classroom amidst the sweltering summer sun? The number of dusty chalk sticks that they keep on grinding on an old green board that witnessed more than ten years of teaching? The golden voice that stays the same even after talking in front of a class of more than 50 students everyday in a room where your enemy is the honks and beeps of passing vehicle? Or the piece of laminated paper showing off your perfect smile framed with your face showing your passion for learning and teaching bordered above by creased forehead?

Is persistence, dedication, focus and license enough to call someone a genuine and professional teacher? Well, technically yes however, we are now enlightened that being a teacher is not just someone who teaches values and subjects inside a classroom, modern heroes (as others call them) can be seen outside the school teaching young and even old learners and continuously touching lives other profession cannot do. License will allow us to teach in a government-accredited institutions but inspiring others does not require anything, just compassion and the sincere intention to make their world a better place.

I have a teacher when I was in my 3rd year HS in a public school in Las Pinas (This is also the year I transferred from private school due to financial problem that struck our family. Who doesn’t experience financial woes by the way?), she is in her early 40’s and she has an adopted daughter since she doesn’t have a husband. She jokingly mentioned to me one time that having a husband is a headache, and one child is a blessing enough to fill-up her life as a mother.

Well she’s also a blessing to others, during that time she is actually supporting two students who have nothing including family, but these two students didn’t give up and instead they have “work” after school – one was selling balut every night and the other one was doing extras in construction site. Despite their hard work, the two students don’t have enough resources to the point of that giving up their school is the only way to earn more and provide their own needs. The two students belong also in my same year but they are placed on a different section. Our teacher (who doesn’t want her name to be known) knew the story of her two students since they are always absent from her class and immediately, she started to encourage her co-teachers in helping the students by providing them with uniforms, notebooks and allowance. Her initiative and the teachers (in the Science Dept.) effort created the success road of the two students toward graduation – the two were able to finish HS with merits.

As I write this, I don’t have any news about our teacher with the heart of a professional teacher and a warm mother. Also, I heard from one of my former classmates that one of the two students is already a manager in a fast food restaurant in their province. I am personally moved by this story – a life-based story that should be shared and served as inspiration to create folds of goodwill and compassion. My adviser and two students’ teacher (and second mother) proves that teaching is really a career that goes beyond the definition of professionalism; it is a lifelong job that develops the mind and nurtures the heart of those who wants to develop and nurture themselves.