School of Tomorrow®, Philippines (SOTP) held its first ever virtual Pastors, Administrators, and Principals’ Conference (PAPCON) last April 12 and 13, 2021. PAPCON is a two-day online conference designed to equip decision-makers with the necessary knowledge regarding relevant and pressing education issues in the new normal. It was well attended with 511 participants representing 244 schools across the nation and Cambodia
The first day started with the message delivered by Rev. Delbert Hooge. He expounded on the theme, “ANNEAL,” which aimed to highlight the importance of being strengthened in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is in line with SOTP’s current theme, “Strengthening Our Hands.” The second session was delivered by Rev. Erich Bernard Santos with a lesson on “Proactive Management in the New Normal.”
The second day, Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada gave a lecture on “Legal Issues Affecting the Schools in the New Normal” with emphasis on how online learning can be executed and reinforced in the classroom without violating copyright laws. He also spoke on “DepEd Issues in the New Normal” concentrating on issues regarding Data Privacy policies. Pastor Erich served as the webinar host while, Mrs. Maria Mimosa Pranza, Consultant for Executive Support Services (ESS) served as the facilitator.
From the final report based on the evaluation forms submitted by the participants, it states that, “Overall, this PAPCON experience proved to be very vital in addressing the equipping needs and uplifting desires of the school ministries’ decision-makers. During this crisis, schools’ stakeholders mostly depend on the principals and administrators to forge the path ahead. Thus, designing conferences and regular meetings (as one participant suggested that the online fellowship like that of the Kapihan be scheduled quarterly) for fellowship and sharing of best practices will be critical in seeing more schools stay strong and emerge stronger—annealed: strengthened through trial.”
The five-day Pastors, Administrators Training Seminar-Advanced Course (PATS-AC), dubbed as “EMPOWER,” held last May 17-21 proved to be an enriching experience for all the participants both in the area of training content and in the use of a video conferencing tool. A total of 52 delegates from 38 schools from NCR, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao participated.
PATS-AC is one of the signature trainings of SOT®P which is designed for school heads who need to take a refresher course. This training aims to empower the school leader with the concept of individualized system of learning, biblical approaches in dealing with internal and external conflict, updates from the DepEd, and more.
This is the first time ZOOM was used by School of Tomorrow® Philippines as the main platform in conducting a training seminar. The variety of activities in the usual face-to-face training was made possible through the use of breakout rooms for discussions as well as the “main meeting hall” for general lectures and reports.
The advantage of going virtual was the ability to accommodate more participants compared to the limitations of a face-to-face gathering. An administrator from Cavite City commented that had the PATS been conducted in that usual mode, she would not have been able to attend. Others agreed and added that the online training turned out to be as effective as the usual practice of meeting together in a venue.
Based on the evaluation report by the Executive Support Services, the participants rated all the sessions and PACEs as of “great relevance,” signifying that all the prescribed requirements for PATS-AC were greatly relevant to the participants’ school ministries.
The most common themes that emerged as suggested topics for PATS-AC are: DepEd matters, school management in the new normal, assessment on staff performance for promotion and salary increase, current issues on misuse of gadgets among students, handling students with special needs. motivating demotivated students, and motivational topics about prayer and discipleship.
The two-leg Christian Educators’ Training (CET) webinar, held last June 14-15 and 17-18, aimed to equip all school staff of schools using the SOT®P system with appropriate knowledge and the skill necessary for implementing the SOT®P system efficiently and effectively. This training meant to uphold and promote individualized learning in Christian character as well as academic excellence.
Each leg kicked-off with the keynote address of the SOT®P’s Executive Director, Rev. Delbert Hooge. As the pioneer and founder of the ACE School of Tomorrow® System in the Philippines, his challenge was captured in three major points: 1) Quality of Purpose, 2) Quality of Priorities, and 3) Quality of Produced Character. The talk was a great reminder on why Christian educators do the things they do and how that sets the foundation for everything done in the system.
Mrs. Christian Grace Kaiser, an ACE thoroughbred and currently a preschool teacher of Philippine Christian School of Tomorrow (PCST), spoke on “Foundations of Early Childhood Education.” She pointed out three key areas in SOT®’s early childhood education programs, which are physical development, language development, and cognitive development.
Day one ended with the session on Remote Learning Center Education best practices that was discussed by three school heads – Mrs. Harriet Barrera of PCST, Ms. Rachel Mar Carbonilla of Icthus Christian Academy (Bohol), and Ms. Queenie May Cargo of His Greatness Christian Academy (Bukidnon) – with different approaches in the actual implementation of their online delivery.
The second day started with the session on “Handling Mini-Classes.” Mr. Jemuel Ocampo, another ACE thoroughbred and a teacher at Jesus’ Flock Academy, presented practical ways to improve classroom engagement by identifying three key principles – clarifying objectives, providing feedback, and involving students in the learning process. A major concern raised during the question and answer period was the difficulty of maintaining student attention and participation in the online classes.
The Deputy Director SOT®P, Pastor Erich Bernard Santos, spoke on the topic entitled, “Parent-Staff Relationships.” He discussed ways to develop positive parent-staff relationships highlighting communication as the key. He emphasized the importance of establishing mutual respect and appreciation by using proper language and by being generous with “good news.” He also added that Christian schools should develop a sense of community and a culture of caring relationships.
The last topic was lectured by Mr. Ryan Navarro, a PCST staff member, who presented solutions to the pressing concerns facing many students right now – mental health issues. He mentioned that the goal of a “counselor” is not to be a hero who will solve things for the students but to be a “helper” by showing genuine compassion that will lead to the experience of the unconditional love of God. This will usher them towards a spiritual transformation leading to lasting change. He stressed that teachers should show empathy and practice non-judgmental listening to students who may be experiencing mental health issues.
The CET webinar, hosted by Pastor Erich and moderated by Mrs. Maria Mimosa Pranza, was designed to complement the annual CET where Learning Center staff go through training PACEs in the actual face-to-face format. First and second time trainees are still required to undergo the actual PACE training while schools are encouraged to do in-house training for their other staff members.