I remember how it all began. My friend was looking for a physics tutor for a student from Woodrose. My first question was: “Woodrose? Ano ‘yon? Saan ‘yon?” Needless to say, I had not heard of this school before. But looking back, I am thankful for that phone call. One referral led to another and another until I met the family that encouraged me to apply in Woodrose. And, despite its distance from my home back then, I decided to give it a try.
I fell in love with Woodrose the moment I saw it. It is not a typical school. Away from the noise of busy streets, its atmosphere seemed to be conducive to serious study. It was such a well-maintained school and the campus was clean. There was also a certain elegance that permeated the school. The teachers who were there that summer were welcoming. Everyone was smiling and the few who happened to pass me by while I sat, waiting, asked me if I had been attended to. I was so impressed by the atmosphere and community that when I was told that I had been accepted for a position in the school, I felt very lucky indeed.
And, as it turns out, I later realized that it might not have been just luck that brought me to Woodrose, but something more. I discovered that the center I visited a few times in my early college years and Woodrose are connected. Back then however, I was so busy studying to make the grade in college that the spirit of the center did not really leave a lasting impression on me.
Thirty years later, I definitely cannot say the same thing about not being able to understand and be moved by the spirit of Woodrose. I’ve been a classroom teacher, a homeroom adviser, an administrator, a mentor, a mentee, and a parent. And in all these aspects, Woodrose has touched my life.
As a teacher, I have been privileged to have had in my class many, many fine young ladies. 30 years ago some of them began to teach me how to teach. I’d like to think that I was technically competent, but teaching was more than delivering lessons in class and making sure that students learned the lessons taught. From them, I learned that true teaching only works when the teacher looks into the heart, understands, and respects what she sees. Insights gained from my daily conversations with them on any topic, especially those outside the lesson, helped me prepare to deal with my own children. A few of these young ladies eventually became the mentor and teachers of my daughter, and one even became my immediate boss. Such is the cycle of life. Thank God they did not get back at me for giving them a hard time when they were my students!
As a parent, I took to heart the philosophy of the school: integral formation and parents as the primary character educators of their own children. Years ago, we had a chance to transfer my son to a school which could hone his strengths more but eventually we decided to stay in the PAREF system. My husband and I believed then that we could support him academically, since we were both educators by degree. But we both wanted a school where there is unity of criteria between the home and the school, where values we adhered to are likewise upheld. We wanted character building to be as important as academic formation. We wanted the opportunity to collaborate with the teachers to bring out the best in our children. We wanted a school that could help us develop our children in all aspects: spiritually, socially, morally, physically – not only academically. These are hard to find anywhere else.
The support given by the school for professional and personal development undertakings is one of Woodrose’s best features. I have benefitted from the countless seminars and trainings – in-house, local, and international - and from the scholarship for continuing education. The school is committed to keeping teachers up-to-date in their respective fields anddeveloping them so that they become instructional leaders. I have been given responsibilities which I consider opportunities for growth. Sometimes I doubted myself but the assurances and support I received from my colleagues pushed me to achieve more than I initially thought I was capable of. I guess our growth depends a lot on how much we are willing to go out of our comfort zone. And in all of these choices, I was always free to decide.
Woodrose extends its program of integral formation to her teachers and employees as well. Here in this institution, I met genuine, selfless people who care about me not just as a professional, but who are also concerned about my personal and spiritual growth. The warm, understanding, and caring relationship with my mentor provides stability and balance in my work and family life. And it is because of such consistent personal care that I found my Faith again – that and the fact that the means of formation are always available.
In one closed-door session with the high school faculty and the accreditors during the PAASCU visit last February, a question asked was: “In one word, what is Woodrose to you?” Spontaneously, the faculty members answered “Family”. No ManCom or middle management member personally witnessed this for we were excluded from this group interview. We were just informed about it after. And yes, that’s exactly what it is. Woodrose is a family – in good times and in bad. In good times, we always find an excuse to celebrate – be it as simple as sharing a new concoction from someone’s kitchen to something as momentous as placing in a licensure exam or completing graduate studies with honors. But it is when you feel down that you most appreciate being a part of this family. My Woodrose family was there at the lowest points in my life, when I lost both my parents. I got so much emotional support from my colleagues. And even in the seemingly smaller problems in life, I have always known that I can count on the prayers of my Woodrose family. When people from my school say they will pray for you or for your intentions, it is never lip service. They will really pray for you and you will feel the power of those prayers being lifted up for you.
Another way Woodrose has touched my life is by teaching me how to look at work. I have always been a hardworking person. I have always given my best in the things that I do. In my eyes, my output was an extension of me. I wanted it to be perfect, if possible, because I thought it defined me. Nothing really wrong with that, I guess. But looking at the work that I do as an offering to God elevates it. Indeed, in Woodrose you will find a true embodiment of what St. Josemaria said: “For there is no human undertaking which cannot be sanctified, which cannot be an opportunity to sanctity ourselves and to cooperate with God in the sanctification of the people with whom we work” (cf. Christ Is Passing By, n. 122). We work with the slogan “Hindi pwede ang pwede na.” I’ve learned to pay attention to details, even those that perhaps no one will notice, because this work is for the glory of God.
May I make it clear, however, that not everything turned out the way I imagined it to be when I first stepped onto its grounds. Woodrose was only 10 years old when I joined and I only had four years of teaching experience behind me. I practically grew up in and with this school. It took a little while for me to understand what she was trying to say and do for I was a reluctant learner. My head was so full of how things 'should be', that there was very little room for how things 'were'. But through all the obstacles, Woodrose herself has helped me to see things through, with the loving and generous support of my colleagues, with the true spirit of the community, and with all the graces that are made available to us in school.
For all that my Woodrose family has done for me, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my colleagues for their support and friendship. They are exemplars of selfless dedication and of what it is to serve faithfully and with humility. Their desire to always reach out to the poor and marginalized is inspiring and edifying. I thank them too, for the notes of appreciation, words of encouragement, sharing of resources, and time. But mostly for their sincerity and trust. I will also be eternally grateful for what you have done for my family, especially for my three children. I hope they make you proud. I say the same to our brother school Southridge.
Thank you also to the members of the PAREF School Board, the PAREF Central ManCom, and PAREF Board for always keeping in mind the best interest of the teachers.
As I said earlier, this journey started with a single phone conversation. And it is because of that phone call that I have been blessed with the opportunity to grow and develop in my calling as an administrator, teacher, wife, and mother.
[A speech given by Mrs. Divine Adajar, Assistant Principal, Senior High School, PAREF Woodrose on the occasion of PAREF's 40th anniversary, 13 August 2016.]