STRENGTHENING OUR SCHOOLS FROM THE RUBBLES
TURNING DIFFICULTIES INTO OPPORTUNITIES
TEEDJ ERMITAÑO

It has been four (4) years since the infamous worldwide pandemic and life has never been the same. Yes, our activities are already face-to-face and last year’s events were mostly in person, but a feeling of uncertainty is still in the air that slows down our progress. The grief of losing a loved one and even a business or career is still being processed. Academic progress of our students is still slowly picking up and financial stability hasn’t yet been regained. But, PRAISE [BE TO] OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, because these difficulties are just opportunities for growth. James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

As we pursue quality Christian Education, we inevitably have to squeeze through these challenges and endure the pain until we emerge to the other side victorious. These struggles are evident in our on-going School Assistance Visits (SAV). As one of the Field Representatives who visit your schools, I feel the weight of the burden that the school heads are carrying. I see the needs of the schools as I walk around each learning center. I also hear gut wrenching stories that some of our students go through. But, despite all those things, our schools are still standing and operating. I am amazed of God’s goodness and grace to these schools who have gone through so much and still make an impact in their communities. With that said, I would like to share notable principles that I have seen during my visits that might help our struggling schools.

  1. CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY in every process. The A.C.E. School of Tomorrow® System has been used in the Philippines since 1978 with processes and certain non-negotiable items that are manualized. During my SAV, I have seen schools that have consistently implemented these procedures and reaped good results. It is my desire to see these schools understand the importance of sticking to the manual and not veering off the design of the system. From the everyday devotions, handing out of the congratulations slips, tri-weekly trips or treats, and even the PACE averaging of the student’s quarterly grade are important parts of the whole program.
  2. ALWAYS REFER BACK TO THE MANUAL for procedural concerns. I have said in the previous point; our system is manualized. We have an ADMINISTRATION MANUAL, two PROCEDURES MANUAL, PRE-SCHOOL MANUAL, ABC’s WITH ACE & CHRISTI MANUAL, and even a FURNITURE MANUAL. People have painstakingly documented every process for the benefit of the schools. So, when in doubt, open your manuals and search for the answer. Just like the Bible’s being the basis of the progress of our life, the A.C.E. School of Tomorrow® manuals are the basis of the school’s journey.
  3. BUILD GOOD RELATIONSHIPS not just with your stakeholders, but also with the government and other SOT®P schools around you. Deepen your relationships in every area.
    1. STUDENTS & PARENTS – They are your stakeholders. They have bought into your implementation of the system; therefore, you need to strengthen your connection with them. You need to have a deeper understanding of the dynamics they have as a family and how it affects the academic progress and even the character of the student. Don’t just limit your interaction with them during quarterly fellowships and be intentional during parent conferences.
    1. COMMUNITY – Your school has a part in the progress of the community. Your school grows with the community. So, get your students involved in outreaches for the improvement of the community. Make regular visits to community leaders and connect with them for future collaborations. Never underestimate the kind of help your community can give you.
    1. GOVERNMENT ENTITIES – May it be the Department of Education (DepEd) or the city government, always make it a point to cultivate a lasting relationship. God has allowed these entities to exist over us and our response should be with humility and graciousness as salt and light of this world.
    1. SCHOOL OF TOMORROW®, PHILIPPINES – Yes, we desire a good working relationship with your school and we want nothing more than to help you and your school ministry to achieve a higher level of operations. So please do not think of our visits as a nuisance or a threat. We are partners in this journey of reaching the Philippines for Christ, one child at a time.
  4. DOCUMENTATION IS VITAL in the management of schools. That is why, even minutes of the meetings are encouraged to be formally documented in the Administration Manual (Item No. 3, Last Paragraph, Page 132). I understand how tedious this could be, but for the protection of your school, staff, and even your students, important transactions and conferences should be documented and signed off by both parties. One good example is our Parent-Teacher Conferences. Whether you are discussing the academic progress of the child or settling a violation, the teacher and the parent should be in agreement at the end of the conference and addendums to the planned items to be discussed should be noted and filed for future reference.
  5. KNOW YOUR SCHOOL’S PURPOSE BY HEART. This might sound a little cliché, but everyone involved in the operations of the school should know the mission and vision of the school—Pastor, Administrator, Principal, Supervisors, Monitors, and Non-academic Staff. They may not know it word for word, but in general, the people who have invested their time and effort in the ministry should be working toward a common goal. Ultimately, the ministry of School of Tomorrow®, Philippines envisions a world of Biblically trained professionals who have Christ-like character interwoven in their being. We journey with almost 400 schools in the Philippines with different cultures and tendencies but with the same goal—Reaching the Philippines for Christ, one child at a time.

Starting and maintaining a school is not easy. A lot of financial planning, staff training, marketing, and divine interventions will need to happen. Defending our system is also a daunting task, since the procedures and methodology are unfamiliar with mainstream education. But, despite all of these, we continue to strengthen our schools. Many schools have closed in the past 5 years, but a lot more have stayed the course. Some of these schools were knocked down but did not stay defeated. They rose from the rubble more determined than ever. This is a testament of God’s faithfulness and provision, because He causes everything to work together for what is ultimately good to those who choose Him.

So, dearly beloved, as our team of Field Consultants and Representatives finish their scheduled SAV at the time I am typing this, I pray that your school would continue to be a beacon of God’s faithfulness within your community. Let’s persevere until Jesus comes!

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