MA. Elena Zaldarriaga is “crazy about kids.”
The founding director of Play House Children’s Center and B.R.I.G.H.T. Academy said helping them grow and succeed is her goal every day as a teacher.
Her venture in education was born out of her love for kids.
“I remember one time, my son, John, asked me years ago a terrifying question. ‘Mom, what is it that you really want to do in life?’ And he knows I am crazy about kids,” shared Zaldarriaga.
Twenty-five years ago, she started Play House, a day care center in their home garage at Paradise Village. She had five students then, including her youngest, Michael. She was the only teacher then.
Through word of mouth, Zaldarriaga’s small school grew. Parents entrusted their children’s education to Play House, which has a teaching method centered on providing each child a holistic learning experience at their prime years.
From a small classroom, it grew one level at a time. Now, the school has grown into a total children’s center situated in a 1.26-hectare property in Banilad. Aside from offering pre-school sessions, it expanded to grade school and senior high school through B.R.I.G.H.T. Academy.
The campus houses spacious and dual air-conditioned classrooms, indoor, and outdoor play areas, a library, information technology center, home economics room, science laboratory and a multi-purpose hall.
It also has a mini soccer field and two swimming pools.
From five students, the school has grown to 659. And from one teacher looking after the children’s welfare, the school now employs about 75 teachers.
For Zaldarriaga, school is not just about excelling in academics but an institution that propagates a caring culture and promotes a well-balanced educational program, one that is eclectic and holistic.
“We wanted to transform the life of a child. We wanted to bring out the best in them,” she said.
“The school’s primary goal is to develop well-balanced children who are self-disciplined, confident, academically prepared, happy with high emotional intelligence,” she added.
One of the school’s teaching initiatives are students’ exposures abroad. Next year, the students will go to Sydney to participate in the week-long Australian Music Festival.
“We have plenty of talented students here and one way to help them build their confidence and excel in what they do best is to give them opportunities like this,” said Zaldarriaga.
Amid the growth of the school, Zaldarriaga dismissed plans of expansion for now, saying they are happy with how the school is currently performing.
As they celebrate their 25th year in the education business, the school is mounting a two-day musical play dubbed Seasons of Love this Dec. 14 and 15 at the SM Seaside Centerstage.