A Teacher for all Seasons

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By Evangeline Murillo

Tea For Two

Thursday, March 6, 2014


MA'AM Charie or Ms. Cordero has been called by many names. One of them is the "eternal principal" of the St. Louis Girls’ High School.

She was our class adviser during our last year in high school, and the adviser of many classes thereafter. Later as each of us moved on to journey through our individual lives, she too moved on but within the same institution, this time as Principal of the High School department. That went on for many years and even in her retirable years, she continued to do so, hence the monicker, the "eternal principal."

Her skills at school management and administration were based mainly on the countless years of experience as teacher, adviser, friend, colleague, employee, consultant and assistant to the ICM sisters of Baguio. She was an indispensable part of the educational wheel.

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Our class of 48 or so went to different directions and fields and many chose to go outside the country. Ma’am Charie was always around, however. When one needed information or anything about the St. Louis Girls’ High School, there was always a Ma'am Charie to run to. She was full of praises when she read anything good about anyone of her former students. Her compliments would reach us and a glance at past memories of high school days became a "reward after the long haul." What was she like as a teacher and adviser? In our Filipino classes were she taught par excellence, we never saw her get mad or angry at anyone of us. She was always cool and friendly, slow to judge people, but quick to praise and to compliment. Yes, our class would be boisterous at times, silly at other times, loud and quick to laughter like any high school batch. And there was Ma’am Charie, laughing with us, frightened with us, but always there, an icon to run to when you needed an ear, a shoulder, or some time to spend. She was serious with her teaching, but in a gentle manner. She encouraged us to ask questions and to ask her to repeat explanations that were not understood! No matter how many times. Would you believe?

The last time I saw her was on the hospital bed where she animatedly spoke about her condition. She said the first time she went to the hospital she was afraid her diagnosis would be dengue and she hoped it was not. The next time she was brought back to the hospital, she said she hoped it was dengue, not leukemia. It was the latter, unfortunately. But she spoke about living a full life with so many blessings that if it’s the end, she would accept it wholeheartedly. As we spoke, there were no tears in her eyes, but there was a lilt in her voice as though she was giving a lecture or a seminar about life. Two weeks after that hospital visit and before Christmas, she was gone. As fast as that. The ICM sisters must miss her tremendously. She was one of the pillars in the school. Most of all, the students whose minds were molded with her kindness and gentle nature would keep her always in their hearts, as I do and always will. The sweet lady that she was and will always be, shall linger long, her memories will be lasting.

Teachers define and create many possibilities in a growing child’s heart. They spell the difference between taking the right path through life or plummeting down to uncertainties. These they do by the attitudes they instill in the delicate and vulnerable character that starts to form in the young. Most of these attitudes are learned mostly by the presence of the nurturing teacher. Each teacher carries in her hand a significant part of a student’s future and depending on how she has nurtured and nourished each one of them, the student may bloom, or wilt or pass life without feeling. Let teachers always be blessings from heaven ...like Ma’am Charie, and not the bane of life. Where you are, Ma’am, look upon us now with favour and guide us still by holding our future in your hands! God bless You!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 07, 2014.

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