IN THE NEWS: Palo, Leyte teacher gets recognition from corporate giants

Photo source: Manila Bulletin
Photo source: Manila Bulletin

ALL MAY BE dire and bleak, but there is hope. This is something Ernani Fernandez, a teacher at Palo National High School, learned on November 11, 2013, two days after Super Typhoon Haiyan leveled his town, Palo, in Leyte province.

Fernandez was still reeling from the onslaught of the typhoon when he received word that he made it to the prestigious Microsoft in Education Global Forum, a worldwide educator recognition program.

“When I read the congratulatory remarks, I didn’t really know how to react and I ignored what I saw in the announcement,” recalls Fernandez. “I only thought of one thing at that time: ‘God, let my family live and that is enough blessing for me’,” he says. Fernandez was among those airlifted to Manila due to the widespread devastation left behind by the typhoon. Palo alone reported more than 800 casualties and thousands of families were rendered homeless.

“Little did I know that this phenomenon, which brought misery to my family, would bring me to new and higher heights in my life as a teacher,” he says. Fernandez was a graduate of the Global Filipino Teachers (GFT) Program, an initiative of Globe Telecom and the Coalition of Better Education, that aims to train teachers on the integration of Information and Communications Technology in the classroom, as well as problem-based learning approaches.

As a Global Filipino Teacher, part of his responsibilities and advocacy is to ensure quality education through technology integration in teaching. Thus, Fernandez decided to design a Project Based Learning (PBL) project for his Business Technology class to motivate students to learn and acquire business and accounting skills through technology integration.

This earned Fernandez one of the spots in the Innovative Teachers Leadership Awards Competition in 2012. Because of his vision and skill, he was chosen to be one of the 30 GFTs nationwide to serve as a peer coach, allowing him to share his GFT expertise to his colleagues.

All these led him to bag a place in the 2014 Microsoft in Education Global Forum. Focusing on making Accounting exciting, Fernandez’s entry featured innovative and engaging ways to teach an often dreaded subject. Using Microsoft Excel, designing comics on Microsoft programs, and eventually, establishing real-life applications of what they learned, his students truly maximized technology to bring learning into the 21st century. “In this project, my students didn’t notice that they are still working with accounting because their apprehensions turned into excitement,” he says.

“We are proud of our GFT graduates. A number of them have been recognized by various local and international organizations for their projects which started in the GFT program. It shows that we are on track with our goal to make our teachers globally competitive,” says Issa Cabreira, senior vice president for Globe Consumer Mobile Marketing.

The GFT Program is part of Globe Prepaid’s strategy to improve the quality of education in public schools and is one of the pillars of Globe Telecom’s Project Wonderful, which aims to assist in nation-building and to help Filipinos live better lives.

Meanwhile, the Microsoft forum took Fernandez to Barcelona, Spain last March, where his project became one of the top picks. His group entry, along with other delegates in the “Learn-a-thon”, fared much better—it landed them the top prize.

Fernandez shares, “I am proud of this wonderful achievement. Amidst the horrors of surviving a devastating typhoon, I found solace in the fact that my innovation in teaching has proven to be globally competitive.”
Republished from Manila Bulletin, December 14, 2014

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