Mama's 7th Death Anniversary: 7 things that made Carmen R. Paypon an excellent teacher

February 08, 2015

Today is my Mom's 7th death anniversary.  I was thinking about what to write and it came to me that she has been a teacher most of her life and, apart from being a Supermom, this is another part of her life that she totally owned.

So I thought that in celebration of this part of her, I'd write 7 things that made her an excellent teacher.

As far as I remember, my mom had taught the English subject for Public High School for most of her career.  I know she taught at UNO High School when she first started ( I don't know if it's still there).  I also remember her bringing me with her to Esteban Abada High School and her last stint was at Claro M. Recto High School.  I write these qualities from what I've seen when she's teaching, from seeing how her students behave in class and around her and as someone who was always asked to help out when preparing stuff for her to teach with.

1.  It was her passion.  Her vocation. 

She wouldn't have lasted 40+ years in this profession if she didn't love it.  She loved that she was able to teach kids to read.  She loved that she was able to inspire them to be better students and more importantly, people.  She loved it when she sees students suddenly understand the lesson, when it dawns on them that they understand it.  She loved the bright ones who had no problems with the subject.  BUT, she loved the difficult ones even more because it's not just the subject that's the problem.  It's having to figure out why they can't understand or why they won't.  And then having to figure out How to help.  She was more than just a teacher.  It was never about the money.  It was about learning.  It was about understanding.

2.  She knew her subject well.

English can be a hard subject to teach especially to public school students who aren't as adept as speaking and writing in English as private school students are.  Therein lies the challenge if your teachers aren't as good with it as they should be.  My mom knew English better than all her co-teachers if I do say so myself.  That's why she had the respect of the students.  That's why she had the respect of her other co-workers too.  And that's why other teachers were also jealous of her and her relationship with the kids.  Not to mention the fact that she also tops teacher professional exams too.

3.  She understood the psychology of teenagers

She believed that to be an effective teacher you had to think like your students.  What were they passionate about?  When you know what interests them, then you can incorporate that into your lesson plan.   That's how she was able to relate with the kids.  She can talk to them about Dragonball Z.  She knew all the Pokemons (yep she did).  I just remembered a funny story.  She was teaching in class when she overhead two kids discussing which character my Mom would be if she were a Pokemon character.  One kid had the misfortune to say that my Mom was Psyduck.  They didn't know Mom knew the character.  Mom told him, "Of all the characters to choose from, you had to choose Psyduck who is probably the most stupid out of all the Pokemon characters!  I take offense at that."  It was hilarious because the kids were surprised and they didn't know she would understand what they were talking about hahahaha

4.  She was strict yet she was well-loved

In school, she was often called a Terror Teacher because she's strict with rules, with homework and discipline in the classroom.  You had to be well-dressed and well-groomed before you enter her class and sometimes, that was a puzzle to the other teachers because when it was their turn, students wouldn't be as well-dressed and well-groomed :)  She set high standards for the students knowing they could meet those.  She would push but she would also help them get there.  She can be harsh but she was fair and treated everyone equally.  That's why during Teacher's Day, she always went home with the biggest pile of flowers and gifts from her students.

5.  She got on well with the parents

Learning effectively relies on both the teacher and the parental support system.  She had the respect and support of the parents of her students ALWAYS.  There was one time I remember she asked to see the parents of one of her students who was always cutting class.  The mother tried to coddle the boy and was blaming my mom for not doing her job.  The father, on the other hand, got pissed off at his wife for always taking the boy's side even though he was clearly on the errant side.  The father then apologized to my mom for his boy's actions and told her that if she felt the need to punish him for any wrongdoing then she should with the father's blessings.

6.  She had the respect and support of her fellow teachers and administrators

Even though my mom was brilliant at her job, she never showed off or bragged about it to her co-workers.  In fact, she didn't want it publicized or talked about because she knew that it would ruffle some feathers, so to speak.  Some of her co-teachers who weren't afraid of her intellect would usually ask her for help or advice to better themselves and Mom would wholeheartedly help them and support them.   Student teachers would almost always request to be assigned to her because they said they learn the most from her.

7.  She was a teacher 24/7, 365 days a year

Our house was open for her students.  Most would drop by to consult.  Some would even bring their parents around to meet her.  Others would stop by for a chat because they had nothing better to do.  I remember getting to know Novy, Redeemer, Cernan, Jerome because they were always at the house LOL  They were 4th year honor students then.  Even after they graduated, some would still drop by for a quick hello.

I think I'll end this post with a story.  One time, my mom was walking home from school and she was accosted on the way.  The man was going to rob her when he was stopped by another man  Apparently, they knew each other.  The 2nd man said, "What the hell are you doing, dude? You can't do that to her.  She's my teacher."  This man escorted my Mom home and was profusely apologizing all the way.  She was never bothered after that.

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