By: Laurita P. Arca
“Thirteen and counting.”
Yes, I am. I’m already thirteen years as a school head and, I really feel grateful to God that I am. Being one is not easy in every aspect of the job. And if others will ask why I stay, I will answer them with a brief story about my career.
There it is!
Being a teacher just like other teachers was not among my opted careers. What I wanted at first was to become a medical doctor. An obstetrician-gynecologist to be exact. I used to collect ice tube plastics when I was a kid and placed something inside of them before pouring some water and tying them. I would then get something sharp, would ask my playmate to shout “Manganganak na dok!” then I would cut it in the middle until that something inside went out with the water as if a baby came out. So happy to recall that play of mine as a kid. Maybe I got it from being near my mother when she was giving birth to each of my siblings. I used to be her errand being the eldest.
I also wanted to be a lawyer. The movies that showed how lawyers are doing in court never failed to amuse me. Being a singer also came across my mind. I do not know where I got this notion that a woman who sings well is beautiful and I love the feeling of being praised for being beautiful. My talent in arts also made me think I was meant to become an architect or a fine artist. But my parents woke me up from my dreams when I was already deciding what course to take in college by giving me no other option but education. We had a series of bargaining agreements but still, my parents won. I became a teacher.
I promised myself that I would take my dream course when I already have a salary of my own. But, when I already started to teach, I had no time anymore to fulfill my promise. I already got hooked on writing lesson plans, preparing instructional materials, checking students’ outputs, and taking up post-graduate studies in education. A heartbreak experience in my early twenties became my push in finishing my master’s degree and then in taking up a doctoral degree.
The break for promotion to being a school head started when my friend asked me to join her in going to a Mercury Drugstore. While paying at the counter, I bumped into the Assistant Schools Division Superintendent of our division, and she told me I was included in the list of the National Qualifying Exam for School Head (NQESH) takers. The said exam was already one week to go from that date. May 15 was the date. I looked for announcements on the bulletin boards in our school and confirmed! My name was there on the list. How I got listed there without my consent did not matter to me anymore. That same day, ABS CBN called me and said that my slot in playing the very famous Wheel of Fortune hosted by Kris Aquino was scheduled on the same date as the NQESH. I never had a second thought when I prayed, “Lord, I want to be rich first before I become a principal. If the date of the exam will not change, I will opt to play the Wheel of Fortune and drop my chance of taking the NQESH.” God seemingly played a joke on me that time. He quickly answered my prayer. ABS CBN called me back on that same date and said that my slot was made a day earlier than May 15. I must admit I did not mind reviewing for the NQESH. I focused more on watching Wheel of Fortune on TV to know its mechanics. I was really interested to get a million prize.
May 14, 2022. My nerve wrecked while playing the Wheel of Fortune. The lights, the sounds, the shouts of the live viewers, and the presence of the Queen of All Media were so mental blocking. I felt like there were heartbeats in all parts of my body. The question for entering the jackpot round was so related to school but I was not able to press my buzzer ahead of my co-players. But still, I won ten thousand pesos for the answer Bahay-bahayan.
May 15, 2022. I was feeling tired, so I planned not to take the NQESH anymore, but my sisters woke me up and pulled me out of bed, pushed me hard to take a bath, and then went to the testing center. The rest is history. I passed the exam; got my first assignment as a school head; was culture-shocked being from the classroom for nineteen years and then transferred to a management position; got promoted to Principal II in my year three as school head, and to Principal III in my year five. Stopped thriving for promotion for a long time but here I am again preparing my documents in eyeing a promotion. Where I reach before I retire, I do not know. Just one thing is sure, I never reached where I am now that easy. Many stumbling blocks came my way. Too long if I will elaborate on them one by one. But indeed “When God calls, God enables.” Despite the many heartaches and pains, I remained standing by His grace. Teaching might not be one of my career options then, but I believe it was God who led me in this direction. God is too wise to be mistaken. He made me realize I am an educator not by chance but by passion. That thought alone is enough for me to remain rejoicing about my job as an educator despite the odds being constant along the way. May God bless me and keep me always!