As the year comes to an end, many are saying goodbye to all the uncertainties and troubles that characterized 2020.

For the Philippines, the year started with a big bang – the sudden eruption of Taal Volcano in January 9 causing the cancellation of our Junior Student Convention in the area. We never thought that that was just the beginning of something bigger that would affect the activities of School of Tomorrow® Philippines and the operation of schools in the country in general.

On January 30, the first COVID19 case was reported in the country and by March 9, the President declared an emergency health crisis in Metro Manila and suspended classes for one week – and that one week was “extended indefinitely” in the entire country. Quarantine, and lockdown became “normal” words in our vocabulary. For us in education, the words online, virtual, and remote turned out to be the “words of the year.”

This pandemic changed the rules in the middle of the game! No matter where you are in the spectrum of views – whether you are on the “this is a real medical crisis” or you are on the end that says, “This is conspiracy” – one thing we know for sure, this pandemic changed the way we live our lives.

2020 is truly a crisis-filled year. Others may consider this year the worst – and that is a reality for many because we have witnessed businesses closing down, families separated for months, and some losing loved ones to COVID19. Then, as we were preparing for the Christmas celebrations, a series of typhoons ravaged parts of the Philippines from north to south. Our hearts go out to those whose year was marked by pain and loss.

However, 2020, in the midst of the crises, opened doors of opportunities for School of Tomorrow® Philippines.

The pandemic gave birth to the Remote Learning Center Education that allowed us to transition as a community of schools into the remote – virtual or distance – mode. Going online was not without challenges but the fact that SOT® is a system made the transition easier for us.

I was reminded of the Devotion I shared in this year’s CET webinar – “Crisis gives birth to creativity.” 2020 gave SOT®P many opportunities to meet the needs of our schools and homeschoolers.  John Maxwell said one of the characteristics of a creative person is creative stretch, meaning his mindset is “there will always be an answer.” We may not have an answer to every problem but, by the grace of God, He gave us many open doors to address issues we faced as an education community.

I love what Casey Crawford said – “Real opportunities only happen when you think of others.” That is the key. In the midst of a crisis, think of others. When it became apparent that the lockdown will be prolonged and the coverage will be nationwide, the question that came up in the SOT®P leadership was, “how can we help our schools?”

I am not going to write on how we helped the schools, rather, I wish to simply challenge each one of us as we bid 2020 farewell. Though we are hoping for a better year ahead, it looks like there will be more challenges. Let us look for opportunities by asking ourselves, “how can we help others?” – How can we encourage other schools? How can we reach out to our school families and students? How can we strengthen one another?

If 2020 was a year of opportunities, let 2021 be the year of greater opportunities.

Let me end with

Ephesians 5:15-17 – “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”

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