The way I look at and regard teaching as a profession is more than just a statement of nobility and respect. Despite the mental demand and emotional requirements of this career, teachers are still facing the day with smile that is invulnerable against the challenges of teaching and passion that is tempered by invaluable years of teaching.

An effective and professional teacher is someone who is not just capable of sharing knowledge to his or her learners and strengthening the student’s moral values – instead, someone who goes beyond the concrete walls of his or her institution, someone whose vision is not just bound on the pillars of teaching but has a heart to make our society a better place.

Michael V. Lardizabal, MPA, is one of the teachers that I have met when I moved here in Quezon City last 2013. Mr. Lardizabal is 34 years old and has lived in San Jose, Bulacan for 7 years, married to Maryvie Lardizabal who is working in our office as our department’s Sales Assistant. He got his degree in Mass Communication in Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU), achieved his Master’s degree in Public Administration in the University of Caloocan City (UCC) and presently taking Doctor of Public Administration in the same school. Presently, “Mike”, as he wants to be addressed, is teaching at OLFU and UCC as Assistant Professor, teaching English and Literature for 10 years already.

Mike comes from a family of educators, his parents are both teachers in college and his brother is teaching in a private high school. He actually did not have any intention of teaching, because before, he found teaching as a boring and tedious career with minimal pay. But that notion changed when he accompanied his mother at the school her mother was teaching at. He was only in his college days, his heart pounded with awe and he was mesmerized as he saw how her mother taught passionately. That fateful moment changed his perspective and created a surge of excitement and interests within him. Then, with his parents support, he decided that he will be a teacher someday. Hence, the realization of his dream is now at the palm of his hands, and he is doing more than just teaching – that made choose him as one of the most outstanding teachers in their community.

In the years that he has been teaching, Mike says that having good relationship with colleagues is one of the biggest factors that made him stay. Of course, he also mentioned that the school, besides being a working environment of educators and leaders, should also be able to provide professional growth and support him financially.

I felt nostalgic when Mike shared his memorable experience. A few years back, he was chosen to be a coach for a group of students who have competed in an inter-city quiz bee competition. I could imagine his delight and happiness when his students won in the said event. I have been a contestant many times over for different school competitions when I was in high school so I could definitely relate to what Mike says when he said “ecstatic”.

Mike was selected as an adviser for a student organization in the school – English Society which aims to make the students proficient both in written and oral English. It was a progenitor of sorts because this was the first time the school has initiated the creation of such a student-based and academically –inclined organization. As an adviser, it was part of his task to take care of the funds, temporarily albeit, of the said group. One of his colleagues though robbed him of the funds, probably because of jealousy and also to create mischief and confusion. He brought the case to court. The plaintiff retorted with a slander case. Mike won his case – the teacher and was terminated from the school. The slander case was dismissed.

Further deep in our interview, Mike shared with me some of his experiences that have enriched my understanding of the issues our educational system is facing right now. He believes that there is a need to provide more training to teachers as well as personal growth and developmental programs. He says that the government should spend more money to teacher welfare on a holistic sense since their role as character builder and intellect media is very important in nation building. In a general sense, he thinks that the current K to 12 program would be favourable to our students and the country in the long run since it will prepare the students in the growing demands of the higher education and of the real world. He categorically stated his approval of the use of mother tongue as a language of learning and instruction. He says this can be reflected through student participation in class – when a student becomes at ease with the mode of instruction, they participate more and therefore, learn more. When asked if there is any urgent need for any post secondary and graduate studies specialization in the higher education institutions in the country, Mike says that what we have now is fine, we just need to enhance the curriculum.

But, what made Mike stand out is the fact that he is providing free English proficiency trainings in his community every week that run 3 hours every Weekends whenever he doesn’t have any prior commitments in his work. Also, his family is active in social outreach programs and they are also volunteers in Red Cross. Recently, Mike holds classes for the street children every year whenever he is staying in Cebu for vacation that usually runs a month. As we can see, being a teacher isn’t all about teaching inside the classroom, it’s about extending the learning opportunities of the learners and providing care and extra-service with or without compensation. Now this is professional growth through beyond-the-class teaching.