Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reblogging: Incredible Teacher

I just found this story being shared in my FB timeline. The heading of the story didn't much capturing but once you go down and patiently reading the entire contents you would surely be in tears. As a teacher, I would always tell myself to transform the lives of my students & imprinting goodness in their hearts that somehow when they grow up remembering what I have taught them and be the professionals and future leaders they may be.
On the contrary, I think I am on the opposite side of my desire to be a transformational teacher. Reading this story had brought so much tears and reminders in mind that I haven't done my part accordingly.
I guess, it's not yet too late to change my ways, isn't it? The story is based on true to life, long years before I was born.

This Man Wrote A Heat Wrenching Letter To The Teacher Who Changed His Life. Wait 'Til You Read It!

From the age of one (1966) my sister and I had lived with my maternal grandparents, my mother was an alcoholic and had been in and out of several tumultuous marriages. In 1974 she had gotten married again and decided she wanted her family together so she came and got us from my grandparents and moved us from Oak Forrest Elementary to Vidor Elementary early during my second grade year. To say the least things were less than perfect, my mom and her husband continued to drink and fight. My grandparents came often to visit and I can remember them always leaving sad, my grandfather would hug us and usually shed a tear or two. It was not until later in life that I realized it broke theirhearts to leave my sister and I in this situation yet there was not much during the early 1970’s that they could do.
Now don’t get me wrong this note is not to receive pity or sorrow, because the truth of it is when you are a child of a parent, or parents, battling addiction at the time you do not really realize it, sadly the chaos you see and live daily becomes your normal. You get home from school and let yourself in then you play outside until your parents get home which was usually late because they would meet up at the bar after work. When they got home you would stay low profile while they drank and fought until they finally drank enough to pass out. Then you would get up and fix yourself something to eat, if there was not dinner made that night which was about sixty percent of the time, watch a few shows then get yourself cleaned up and ready for the next day. My grandparents would usually call us late in the evening, if they did not come by, and my grandmother would remind us to set our alarm to get up for school the next morning. My sister and I would get ourselves up, dressed, and off to school usually on our own. I give a lot of credit to my sister, a fifth grader, who rolled me out of bed and helped me get ready. Now I am sure we were not the cleanest or neatest dressed students in the school but we got by.

In 1976, I was a fourth grader at Vidor Elementary School. My teacher was a wonderful lady named Jessie Gilstrap. She was an older lady, soft spoken, extremely caring, and tolerant of all of her students. My mom had the grand idea of being the homeroom mom for the year; now for most kids this would be awesome, but over the past two years of living with her I knew this was probably not going to work out well. Mrs. Gilstrap immediately took to me, and I can fondly remember thinking that I must be her favorite student. I would get picked more than most for the funtask of feeding the hamsters and she would call on me often to answer questions or do mathematics on the chalkboard. When it came time to hand out our lunch cards she would call each student up and give them their lunch card that would be punched by the lunch ladies at the register. She always would forget a few in the lunch room mine always being one of them, and tell us she would tell the lunch lady when we got to the register that they already had our card. I realize now that myself, and a couple others usually did not have a card and Mrs. Gilstrap was making sure we were fed. Funny looking back I can always remember having more on my plate than most of the kids and there was always an extra milk and usually an extra dessert. Now most would say all teachers would do this but the sad truth is I can remember going through many days in second and third grade without a lunch.

As I said it was 1976 so it was the year of the Bi-centennial. I can fondly remember all of the hoopla building up to the celebration, making all the red, white, and blue hats and banners. We had a party in our class and we each read about a different president, I of course got to pick mine first and chose Abe Lincoln, the parents all came up to watch. I can remember my mom showing up and I immediately knew she had been drinking as did the teachers, and it got to the point they had to ask her to leave. Needless to say as embarrassing as it seems now, back then I was glad that they had asked her to leave, and do not really remember being embarrassed about it at all. Amazing how tough the shells are that you can build up at that age. After she left Mrs. Gilstrap came up to me and said “I need to see you in the cloak room”, now those familiar with Vidor Elementary knew that the cloak room was used for one thing and that was a paddling so I remember being a little nervous to say the least. As we went in to the cloak room Mrs. Gilstrap bent down and I remember her having tears in her eyes and she said “I want to tell you something and I want you to remember this for the rest of your life. You can be like her, or you can become something incredible, it is your choice”. 

Not long after this my mother and her husband filed for divorce. My mom brought us back to our grandparents house and disappeared on and off for about 6 years occasionally showing up for a birthday or Christmas. My grandparents let us finish the year out at Vidor Elementary and then transferred us back to Oak Forest. On the first day of fifth grade I showed up to class and there was Mrs. Gilstrap talking to my new fifth grade teacher. I found out later she had come over to fill in my teacher, Mrs. Low, on the details, and to make sure I was settled in. She gave me a big hug and then hugged my grandmother and headed back over to Vidor Elementary to meet her new group of students.

I never saw Mrs. Gilstrap again, and as I said earlier it was not until later did I realize what a HUGE impact she had on my life. I am sure Mrs. Gilstrap had a “special” student or two in every class she taught. So many teachers pick their favorite students and it is usually the ones that are the smartest, best dressed, the most popular, or the ones who have the great home room moms that are always up at the school helping, these are the students that are sitting in the front rows and “feeding the hamsters”, but Mrs. Gilstrap would always pick the ones that she knew NEEDED to be the favorites.
I have always regretted not finding Mrs. Gilstrap later in life and letting her know how much she meant to me and what an impact she had on my life. Sadly she passed away before I got that chance, so I wanted to let her family know how awesome a teacher she was. I have resorted to putting my story out there and hoping it finds its way to them. So if you have a moment share this story and hopefully one day it will connect with someone that was kin to this fine lady.

My wife is now a first grade teacher and I always tell her to find the students that seem like they need the most attention because chances are they do.

Disclaimer: Text taken from Godvine

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Photo Diary: Throwback Winter Photos

I have here an old photos taken back 2012 if I weren't mistaken. It was a winter Sabbath morning and didn't expect these photos would just came out from my Picasa file in my newly purchased phone.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


I came across of this blog in my FB timeline that brought so much pails of tears. As an OFW myself, I spiritually salute this big guy who happens to be the co-founder of Nuffnang from Malaysia.
I have no words to say but...THANK YOU SO MUCH FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART. With or without your permission, I'd surely spread the word by reblogging it..down here is the story of a big hearted man.

Mr. Timothy Tiah - the co-founder of Nuffnang..

For the past 2 years I’ve had the honour and luxury of having a wonderful Filipino maid. I won’t say her name her but lets call her Geraldine.
Geraldine first started working with my wife and I two years ago. I remember her first few days with us. She was very shy and quiet. Sometimes I couldn’t help but feel that she might even be afraid of us but I guess having to live for the first time under a stranger’s roof far far away from home can make anyone scared.
In the first few weeks I often found her in her room looking out the window. When she looked at me I could see the tears in her eyes that would immediately prompt me to ask her what’s wrong. But she always just brushed it off and said nothing.
We thought that perhaps to add to the anxiety of being away from home alone, she probably missed her family too. So my wife and I arranged for her to call home as often as we could. She would give me a phone number with a +63 prefix on it written on a small torn piece of paper with pen.
When I dialed the number I could see her eagerly waiting….. sometimes nobody would pick up the phone on the other side. Then I would see her turn away disappointed.
At the times when someone did pick-up though, I left her with the privacy of my room to talk and I could always hear her excitedly talking to her family in Tagalog. I never knew what she said but I could sense nothing but happiness in her tone. It was like the only thing she looked forward to each day.
Two years passed and things changed.
- We got to know more about Geraldine. How she had 5 kids back in Philippines. The eldest being 17 and the youngest being 4. years old.
- She had gotten a lot more comfortable with us so she talked and joked more with us. She smiled a lot more too and I never saw her again with teary eyes.
- She had discovered other things to look forward to. After dinner she would watch American Idol or The Voice on Astro. Or sometimes she would watch some Filipino drama on TV.
- She had become family… so much that I almost don’t like referring to her as our maid. I prefer the word “babysitter” since she now helps take care of my newborn son.
Then as the two years came to an end, she had a decision to make. She could either go home for good with whatever money she earned, or she could extend her stay with us. She decided to extend her stay… but to go back to the Philippines for a month before she returned to continue work for another two years.
Geraldine returned from her month off yesterday with a new hairstyle and looking happy. I don’t know if it was happy to see my son FIghter or happy to see us again but she was happy nevertheless. I asked her loads of questions. Like what she did at home during her month off (she said she spent most of it doing housework, washing clothes and doing laundry for her family… we joked that even at home she had to work).
One of the stories she told me got me a little teary. When she left the Philippines to work in Malaysia, her youngest daughter was 2 years old. By the time she returned, her daughter was 4.
Geraldine’s daughter didn’t recognize her as her mom but spent a month to get to know her. She would bring her daughter around and her daughter would often call out to her “Hoi hoi… buy me candy”.
Finally the month came to an end and it was time for Geraldine to head back to Malaysia. As she said bye, her 4-year old daughter asked her not to go.
Geraldine said to her 4-year old “I need to go so I can earn money and buy you more candy”.
Her daughter disappeared for a few minutes and then came back with something in her fist. She announced “I have money. Don’t go…”.
Then she opened her fist to reveal a few coins.
Geraldine smiled.
This story made me remember the sacrifice that Overseas Filipino Workers (or workers from any country for that matter) make day in and day out. The cost isn’t just being away from their country. It’s being away and not being able to see their kids grow up. Geraldine would never know what her 4 year old daughter was like when she was 3…. and there are many many more overseas workers just like her.
We often talk about how hard we work. The long hours, the stress we face. But compare it to the sacrifice Geraldine and workers like her make and it’s really nothing. Suddenly the fact that I could see my son every day after work was a luxury beyond anything else I could ever ask for.
Society has us admire people who work hard and become successful businessmen or artists or actors or any of these things. But what can be harder than having to leave your kids for two years at a time and miss watching them grow up?
The worst part is that we sometimes forget. Heck we sometimes even forget that our maids or helpers are mothers to some kids some thousands of miles away. So my hope of this article is that whoever reads this is reminded of the people our maids are and the monumental sacrifice they make. And that they are mothers to kids back home who really really miss them.

Story taken from : 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

The Power of Purpose

The story that I posted now is a fictional one which I read a couple of years ago. I thought of updating my blog with this story because it inspires me much as a teacher so as it gives me the view of loving my students more regardless of their race, color and status of life.
I might have read this story a thousand times in the past but, it tears me up inside.

The Power of Purpose

Elizabeth Silance Ballard

There was a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her fifth grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, as a little boy named Teddy Stallard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was. She put it on and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.

Teddy Stallard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."

After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day she quit teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.

Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "pets."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life. Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer.

The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stallard, M.D.

The story doesn't end there. You see there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did.

And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stallard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

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