A surprising true calling

When Norma was a young girl growing up in the Philippines, she never dreamed of being a teacher.

“I wanted to be a nurse,” she explains, “their uniforms were just so good-looking!”

Norma, a preschool teacher at our Leo J Ryan Child Development Center, found her true calling by coincidence. When she moved to Manila to attend university, she accidentally enrolled in the school of education instead of nursing. After Norma’s first class, “I knew that teaching was my true calling.”

Norma is always finding new ways to engage each child. Her students eagerly await new science experiment demonstrations. Everything is hands-on. Norma helps children create erupting baking soda and vinegar volcanos or rock candy on the classroom window sill.

“I always find it so rewarding to watch the kids work through open-ended problems,” Norma explains, “you can really see their imagination at work.”

Norma knows that emotional development and self-esteem are the pillars of her practice.

“I’ve watched them learn how to help one another, how to share, how to communicate and wait their turn.”

Norma’s holistic teaching style goes beyond teaching colors, numbers, and shapes. By engaging with each child one on one, she earns their trust. In doing so, she ensures that each child can manage their emotions during any moment of crisis.

Norma says: “You are [a child’s] parent, their sister, their friend. Sometimes the kids need love and affection. We need to fill whatever vacuums they have and whatever needs they need. Some, if not all, of the kids we work with are separated from one of their parents so if they are missing a parent’s affection you need to give that to them. It’s a tough job but it’s worth it, especially when they graduate from your room and they know how to socialize and they’re not afraid to try new things or trust new people — and they know all this from just one year with you.”

Reminiscing about her childhood dreams of being a nurse, Norma has no regrets. “I think if I could do it again, I would still be a teacher,” she reflects, “this is my passion.”

Today, Norma works with a team of motivated teachers, dedicated to helping our students build a foundation for a better future. Thanks to all of their hard work, our children graduate stronger and smarter, with a lifetime love of learning and the home environment to support them along the way.