Forty-four year-old Special Education Teacher-I Theresa Rachel C. Venegas of Dipolog SPED Center could never forget the ridicule she received from her colleagues when she accepted the challenge posed by her school principal to become a SPED teacher. At that time, she was pregnant by her first child and her “concerned” friends told her that God will also give her a blind child because she is catering visually-impaired pupils. That was in 2003, just about three years as a SPED teacher and barely a year old after DepEd-Region IX Office approved the application of the school head of Dipolog Pilot Demonstration School to put up a SPED Center Program in her school. Instead of backing down, Teacher Che asked the guidance of the Almighty that she would be given the strength and focus to serve the less fortunate VIs of Dipolog City.
This is just one of the unforgettable, if not heart-breaking, stories that mark Che’s 16 years in teaching special children, a career decision that she initially met with apprehension but which she now happily claims as “the greatest moment I’ve ever made for myself because God has transformed my heart for the special children.”
Recognitions such as 2011 National Finalist for Outstanding SPED Teachers for Special Children with Visual Impairment from DepEd Central Office and the 2011 Outstanding SPED Teacher for Children with Visual Impairment from the DepEd Region IX Office and many other awards given by the DepEd Division Office, the Zamboanga del Norte Province (2012 ZANORTE Achievers Award) and Dipolog City LGU (2012 Tribute to Public Servants Awards) are proof of her devotion to the profession.
She believes that God put things in order and that the transcendental role of a SPED teacher overcomes the current dismal resources and support of the country’s educational system. It is in the innate love for the less fortunate special children that ordinary classrooms are transformed into a magical world that is inclusive and non-discriminatory.
“Che showed a passionate commitment to her calling as teacher to her special students. The lack in physical and material resources didn’t dampen her spirit. It brought out resourcefulness and creativeness in her instead. Her love for her students encompassed the sharing, skill, time, resources, and works of hope, “says Teacher Elba, Che’s proud non-SPED colleague who shared the Music room to her.
She has been extending a helping hand to her co-teachers as a friend, confidante and you-name-it-all roles, she has it. Professionally, she’s extending help as an advocate of the SPED Visually Impaired Program through print and radio broadcast, a coach, a facilitator and a resource person to SPED teachers from the district to the region, a Bible Teacher, Worship Leader and Counselor to DSWD Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth Offenders at Polanco, Zamboanga del Norte since 2007 up to present.
As one of the pioneer SPED teachers in Dipolog City Division, Che, as her colleagues are right to say, is the “eye” and “joy” to her visually-impaired and poor school kids worthy of emulation.